Free hotkey program supports multimedia keyboards

Hotkey shortcuts can make life a little simpler when you're in a hurry. A free utility called HoeKey lets you assign key combinations to many different actions in Windows, including actions involving specific applications.

Windows has a number of preprogrammed hotkeys to make life a little simpler when you're in a hurry. For instance, pressing Winkey (the Windows logo key) and the L key -- Winkey+L -- locks the workstation (or switches to the "Welcome" screen if you're using Windows XP). If you want to create your own key shortcuts, however, that's more difficult without support from third-party applications.

HoeKey goes a long way toward solving that problem. This freeware program, a mere 12K (!) in size, lets you assign key combinations to many different actions in Windows, including actions involving specific applications. When you first run the program, press Winkey+Q to open it and then click "Edit Config" to look at the configuration file, where all the key assignments are kept. Many useful key shortcuts are set up by default, such as Winkey+N to open Notepad, but many more are possible.

The library of commands available to the program include the ability to move, hide, resize or change the transparency of existing windows, send keystrokes to applications, invoke dialog boxes and do things like open or close a CD drive. HoeKey understands the commands used by a great many multimedia keyboards as well, such as Mute, Fast-Forward and Pause, or other hotkeys that do things such as open a Web browser or a search function. A full list of the key commands is available on the HoeKey Web site.

Because the program's so compact, a number of features aren't yet available. For instance, it isn't possible to have the program attempt to determine what the keycode is for a given keypress if you have a key on your keyboard that doesn't seem to correspond to anything. That said, it's still possible to wring a great deal of functionality out of this little program, and its author is constantly adding support for new features.

 


Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!


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This was first published in November 2005
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