Polyphony's Keyboard Manager Deluxe is a sort of super macro utility that can assign hotkeys to shortcuts, objects, and text, including plain or formatted text, but it does much more. It can activate pretty much anything in your system with a few simple keystrokes: programs, printers, drives, files, folders, Web pages, and even DOS files. You can use it for click-free pasting of objects, sounds, images, and stuff like logos and links in documents, which can save time if you find yourself inserting the same things over and over.
This compact utility downloads and installs quickly but requires a reboot to finish the installation because it changes the keyboard's relationship to the operating system, though the interface is accessible prior to rebooting. The interface itself is intriguing; a keyboard facsimile with three big control buttons: Key Combination Assignment List, Options, and Help, the latter accessing a fully indexed Windows-style help file that does a great job explaining how the program works. There's also a button to buy or register the program, which is free to try for 30 days, though the basic demo version has some limitations, such as the inability to create hotkeys to shortcuts or objects.
We tried Keyboard Manager Deluxe in Vista and Windows 7. It's totally easy to use: Click a color-coded key image to select an available key, choose a hotkey combination, and configure it in a pop-up dialog. Clicking the key combination activates the hotkey's action, which is not only cool but also incredibly useful. We recommend it to all users.