Launch and control

KeyboardLink turns your average keyboard into a program launcher and media controller.

KeyboardLink is a great little tool for turning your standard Windows keyboard into not just a program launcher, but a program controller, as well. Open source and using a scant 3MB of RAM, getting started requires configuring the activation keys, called the Master Keys, in the program's General features tab. Users can set one or two master keys, an important feature that prevents you from accidentally launching a program. Other basics, such as running the app when Windows starts, also live in the General tab.

The second tab controls your media player. Here you can set basic track and volume controls. You can also check off a box that supersedes your default media player and controls whichever media player is currently running. The Software tab is where most of the action is, though, with hot-key commands for Notepad, Calculator, your Web browser, media player, MS Paint, and WordPad. For the Web browser and media player, users can specify which program they want the hot key to activate. It'd be nice to see future versions of KeyboardLink extend this feature to more program types.

The Office and System tabs control more generic functions: global volume, mute, emptying the recycle bin, launching the screen saver, and the Microsoft Office suite. The only problems are that it can't be configured to recognize other applications and launch them, and the installer is a ZIP file, not self-extracting. Nevertheless, KeyboardLink is a must-have for power users who hate repeatedly jumping over to the mouse.

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