How to add new custom hotkeys in Windows 10

One of the most powerful features of Windows 10 is the ability to customize your own hotkeys. The OS is certainly known for its tweaks that make the user experience more personalized, such as the ability to add new shortcuts to the context menu . Using various hotkeys allows you to launch programs, load websites and perform many other tasks with a single keystroke. Windows 10 has several built-in keyboard shortcuts, as well as powerful third-party tools that give you access to more options. In this article, you will find useful information about using both approaches to create custom Windows 10 hotkeys.

Adding hotkeys to program and website shortcuts on the desktop

First, let’s try one of the easiest approaches to adding hotkeys. You can add a hotkey to the shortcut of any program or website on your desktop.

  1. Right-click the desktop shortcut and select Properties from the menu.
    Windows desktop menu
  2. Click the Shortcut tab as shown in the screenshot below:
    hot key
  3. Click the Keyboard Shortcut field and enter a new keyboard shortcut for the program or web page. Just enter a letter there to set up a new hotkey. Note that the shortcut will be a letter combined with Ctrl + Alt . So, if you type “I”, then the keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Alt+ I. You can also type one of the function keys (F1 to F12 on most keyboards) by pressing it when the focus is in the keyboard shortcut text box.
  4. Select Apply , and then click OK to close the window.
  5. Press the new hotkey to test it. The program or webpage you specified will open.

Customize Keyboard Shortcuts for Shutdown, Restart, and Logout

You can also create shutdown, logout, and restart hotkeys in Windows 10 without using third party packages.

  1. Create a desktop shortcut for the desired function. To do this, right-click on the desktop and choose New > Shortcut . This function will open the window shown below:
    win hotkey2
  2. In the Enter the location of the item: box, type “shutdown.exe -s -t 00” to set up a shortcut to shut down Windows 10. Type “shutdown -r -t 00” for a shortcut that restarts Windows 10. Type “shutdown.exe – L” to exit Windows 10.

  3. Click ” Next ” and enter a suitable name for the shortcut. For example, you can name a shortcut “shutdown” if the shortcut is shutting down Windows.
  4. Click Finish to exit the Create Shortcut configuration. This adds a shortcut to the desktop as shown below.
    win hotkey 3
  5. Give the shortcut a hotkey as discussed above. Right-click it, select Properties , click the Shortcut tab , and then enter a letter in the Keyboard Shortcut text box.
  6. Select OK to exit the window.

Now, by pressing this key and Ctrl + Alt , you will shut down, restart, or log out of Windows 10, depending on what you entered in the first text field of the Create Shortcut Wizard.

Adding Custom Hotkeys Using Third Party Software

You can do a lot more with additional third party software. There are several programs available for Windows 10, some of them are free programs. WinHotKey is one of the packages that you can use to set up custom Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts. Add it to Windows 10 from the WinHotKey Softpedia page. Click the ” DOWNLOAD NOW ” button to save the installation wizard and then open it to add WinHotKey to Windows.

win hotkey4

The WinHotKey window in the picture above contains a list of default Windows 10 hotkeys. Please note that you cannot edit them with this package. What you can do is set up new keyboard shortcuts that open programs or documents or customize the active window.

  1. Click New Hotkey to open the window shown in the screenshot below.
    win hotkey5
  2. Click the ” I want WinHotKey :” dropdown and select “Launch Application “, ” Open Document “, or “Open Folder “.
  3. Click Browse to choose which action hotkey to open when it is pressed.
  4. Choose from a variety of key combinations hotkeys by checking the Alt, Shift, Ctrl and Windows checkboxes . Then, click the Along with key : drop-down list to add a unique key to the hotkey.
  5. Click OK when you have selected all the required options.

The new keyboard shortcut should be listed in the WinHotKey window along with the others. Press the hot key to try. The software, document, or folder you selected will open.

You can also set up some window hotkeys with this package.

  1. Select the ” Manage the current window ” option from the ” I want WinHotKey :” drop-down list .
  2. Click the “Create Current Window:” dropdown to expand it as shown below.
    win hotkey 6
  3. Select an action from the dropdown list.

Another useful software package for setting up custom hotkeys is NirCmd, which is available for most Windows platforms. You can add the utility to Windows 10 from this NirSoft page . Scroll down the page and click “Download NirCmd” or “Download NirCmd 64-bit” to save the file (depending on whether you’re running 64-bit Windows). Since NirCmd saves as a compressed zip archive, you will also need to select its compressed file in File Explorer and click on the ” Extract All ” button. Choose a path to extract the folder.

After extracting NirCmd, you can set up desktop shortcuts with a command line utility and turn them into hotkeys.

  1. Create a desktop shortcut as before by choosing New > Shortcut from the desktop context menu.

  2. Click Browse and select the path to the NirCmd executable, but DO NOT click Next yet.
  3. Add your command lines to the path that are listed on the NirSoft page. For example, try adding “mutesysvolume 2” to the end of the path, as shown below.
    win hotkey7

  4. Click on the new NirCmd desktop shortcut. If the sound is not already muted, this will complete the action.
  5. Turn the NirCmd shortcut into a mute hotkey by right-clicking it, choosing Properties , and typing the key in the Shortcut text box.

You can set up many NirCmd hotkeys in much the same way. For example, if you add “setsysvolume 65535” to the end of the NirCmd path instead of “mutesysvolume 2”, the hotkey will increase the volume when pressed. Alternatively, adding “empty cart” to the end of the path will create a shortcut that empties the trash.

win hotkey8

As you can see, Windows 10 has both native hotkey settings and third-party hotkey integration. The NirCmd and WinHotKey programs offer more keyboard shortcut options than the default Windows 10. With these hotkeys, you can open programs, documents, website pages, shut down or restart Windows 10, adjust volume settings, and more.

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