Assign a Keyboard Shortcut to Any Installed Program

Looking for a lightning-quick way to launch, say, iTunes? Or Microsoft Word? Or any other frequently used program?

Sure, you could drag its icon to your Quick Launch toolbar (or the Windows 7 taskbar), but then you still have to reach for the mouse every time you want to run it.

(Actually, that's not entirely true. As Vista and 7 users may recall, each toolbar/taskbar program icon is automatically assigned a number and corresponding Windows-key shortcut.)

If you hate reaching for the mouse as much as I do, there's a splendid alternative: assign your favorite program(s) a keyboard shortcut. It's easy; here's how:

1. Right-click the desktop icon for the program in question (let's use iTunes in this example), and then choose Properties.

2. Click inside the Shortcut key field, then press whatever key combination you want to assign to that program. For iTunes, you might use Ctrl-Shift-I or Alt-Shift-A (as in Apple). The only requirement is that the shortcut start with Ctrl-Shift, Ctrl-Alt, or Alt-Shift. (You can't, for example, just go with Ctrl-I.)

3. Click OK and you're done! (Windows may ask you to approve administrator privileges, which you can go ahead and do.)

Now just press that key combo and presto: the app launches, no mouse required. You can set up as many of these shortcuts you want for as many programs as you want--though unless you have a really good memory, I'd limit it to a handful.

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