Which Windows programs do you use day in and day out? Most of us use the same three to five programs every single day. If you are in the same situation, you can save time by creating keyboard shortcuts to open them. I use shortcuts to quickly open Outlook and Firefox. It saves me a couple of minutes every day, and those minutes add up to several hours of saved time over the course of a year. Plus, pressing a few keys to make Excel open instantly makes me look awesome in front of co-workers. And isn’t that really the point of technology?
To create your own shortcuts in Windows:
- Browse to the application in your Start menu, also known as the Windows button for Windows 7. You might have to browse to the All Programs menu and find the application there, rather than finding the application in the ‘frequently used’ initial section of the Start menu.
- Right-click on the application name, and choose Properties.
- On the Shortcut tab, type a letter in the Shortcut Key field. I find it easiest to use the letter that starts the application name. For example, I use “E” for Excel.
- The new shortcut to open that application will now be Ctrl + Alt + the letter you chose in Step 3. In my Excel example, I use Ctrl + Alt + E.
Occasionally, I find an application that does not let me add a keyboard shortcut. In those cases, once you right-click in Step 2, choose either Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start Menu to create a shortcut on either the Taskbar across the bottom of Windows, or the Start Menu, respectively.
If you pin a shortcut to the Taskbar, you can use a built-in keyboard shortcut to open that application instantly. The shortcut is the Windows key and a number, where the number you press is the application’s position in the Taskbar. The Windows key is the key with the Windows logo on it, usually found on the bottom row of your keyboard. For example, in the screenshot below, I would press the Windows key, and then 2 to open Internet Explorer.
A word of caution: when choosing a letter in Step 3, do not create a shortcut already using the Ctrl and Alt keys. For example, Ctrl + Alt + Delete brings up different Windows options. Similarly, Ctrl + Alt + Arrow keys can change the orientation of your monitors.
Now go out there and show off your super speedy Excel-opening skills!