HotKeyMan makes hot keys easy

Set custom hot keys with HotKeyMan.

Hot keys make life easier, at least during the time you spend at your computer. Properly configured hot keys can save you time and effort by reducing the keystrokes you need to perform common tasks, such as minimizing open windows, entering data, and triggering macros. Hulubulu's HotKeyMan is a free tool that makes it easy to set and use hot keys in Windows.

HotKeyMan's installation wizard gave us the option to start HotKeyMan with Windows, but this choice is easy to change later on via the program's settings. The setup process establishes a few basic hot keys that use the Windows key, but after the program is installed, you can edit the settings and add new hot keys by right-clicking HotKeyMan's system tray icon and selecting Settings. You can also click Show Hotkeys to display your available hot keys in a compact view; clicking or left-clicking the tray icon also brought up this view.

We opened the settings dialog, which has tabs for Hotkeys and Other settings. The hot-key tool is very easy to use. It displayed our Active hot keys, each with an Edit and Delete button and options for selecting the Shift key and another key. You can choose the Alt, Ctrl, Shift, or Win key as the Shift key; enough choices to avoid any conflict. The program only has two more settings, a check box to start HotKeyMan with Windows and a button to check for updates. HotKeyMan's Web page offers documentation and screenshots, but anyone who understands the basic concept of hot keys can use it.

We selected one of the default hot keys randomly and entered it: Win + S, the screen capture command. Typing the command opened our default screen-capture tool with our desktop displayed. Next we opened the Settings, clicked Edit, and changed the hot-key combination. We clicked OK and then pressed our new hot keys. The screen capture tool opened normally with the new hot-key combo, just as it was supposed to. Too few users take advantage of custom hot keys in Windows. HotKeyMan could change all that.

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