How to Add New Custom Hotkeys to Windows 10

One of the most powerful features in Windows 10 is the ability to set up your own custom hotkeys. The OS is certainly known for customizations, making the user experience more personalized, like the ability to add new shortcuts in the context menu.

How to Add New Custom Hotkeys to Windows 10

Using various hotkeys lets you start programs, load websites, and do many other tasks with a keystroke. There are several built-in keyboard shortcut options in Windows 10, and there are also powerful third-party tools that will give you access to more options.

In this article, you’ll find helpful information on using both approaches to create customized Windows 10 hotkeys.

Adding Hotkeys to Program and Website Desktop Shortcuts

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

  1. Right-click the desktop shortcut and select Properties from the menu. Windows desktop menu
  2. Click the Shortcut tab.
    win hotkey
  3. Click the Shortcut key box and enter a new keyboard shortcut for the program or web page. Just enter a letter there to set up the new hotkey. Note that the shortcut will be the letter combined with Ctrl + Alt. So if you type “I,” then the keyboard shortcut would be Ctrl + Alt + I. You can also enter one of the function keys (F1 through F12 on most keyboards).
  4. Select Apply and then click OK to close the window.
  5. Press your new hotkey to test it out, and it should open the program or web page you specified.

Set up Shutdown, Restart, and Logoff Keyboard Shortcuts

You can also create shutdown, logoff, and reboot hotkeys in Windows 10 without using third-party packages.

  1. Create a Desktop shortcut for the desired function. To do this, right-click the Desktop and then select New > Shortcut.
    win hotkey2
  2. In the Type the location of the item: box, type “shutdown.exe -s -t 00” to set up a shortcut that shuts down Windows 10. Type “shutdown -r -t 00” for a shortcut that restarts Windows 10. Type “shutdown.exe –L” to sign out of Windows 10.
  3. Press Next and type a suitable title for the shortcut. For example, you can name the shortcut “shutdown” if the shortcut shuts down Windows.
  4. Press Finish in order to exit the Create Shortcut configuration. That adds the shortcut to the desktop, as shown below.
    win hotkey3
  5. Give the shortcut a hotkey.
  6. Select OK to exit the window.

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

Adding Custom Hotkeys With Third-Party Software

You can do a lot more with extra third-party software. There are a few programs available for Windows 10, and some of those are free programs. WinHotKey is one of the packages you can use to set up customized Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts. Add it to Windows 10 from the WinHotKey Softpedia page. Click the DOWNLOAD NOW button there to save the setup wizard, and then open that to add WinHotKey to windows.

win hotkey4

The WinHotKey window in the shot above includes a list of default Windows 10 hotkeys. Note that you can’t edit those with this package. What you can do is set up new keyboard shortcuts that open software or documents or adjust the active window.

  1. Press New Hotkey to open the window shown in the snapshot below.
    win hotkey5
  2. Click the I want WinHotKey to: drop-down list and select Launch an Application, Open a Document, or Open a Folder.
  3. Click Browse to select what action hotkey will open when you press it.
  4. Choose from a variety of keyboard combinations for the hotkeys by selecting the Alt, Shift, Ctrl, and Windows checkboxes. Then click the Along with the key: drop-down list to add a unique key to the hotkey.
  5. Press the OK when you’ve selected all the required options.

The new keyboard shortcut should then be listed on the WinHotKey window, along with the others. Press the hotkey to try it out. It will open the software, document, or folder you selected.

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

  1. Select the Control the Current Window option from the I want the WinHotKey to: drop-down list.
  2. Click the Make the Current Window: drop-down list to expand it.
    win hotkey6
  3. Choose your action from the drop-down list.

Another useful software package to set up customized hotkeys with is NirCmd, which is available for most Windows platforms. You can add the utility to Windows 10 from this NirSoft page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Download NirCmd or Download NirCmd 64-bit to save the file (depending on whether or not you are running the 64-bit version of Windows).

Since NirCmd saves as a compressed zip, you’ll also need to select its compressed file in File Explorer and press the Extract all button. Choose a path to extract the folder.

Once NirCmd is extracted, you can set up Desktop shortcuts with the Command-Line Utility and turn them into hotkeys.

  1. Create a Desktop shortcut as before by selecting New > Shortcut from the desktop context menu.
  2. Press Browse and select the NirCmd executable path from there, but DO NOT click next just yet.
  3. Add your command lines to the path, which are all 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 volume isn’t already muted, this will complete the action.
  5. Turn the NirCmd shortcut into a mute hotkey by right-clicking it, selecting Properties, and entering a key in the Shortcut key text box.

You can set up a variety of 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 maximize the volume when pressed. Alternatively, adding “emptybin” to the end of the path would set up a shortcut that empties the Recycle Bin.

win hotkey8

As you can see, Windows 10 features both in-house hotkey customizations, as well as third-party hotkey integration. The NirCmd and WinHotKey programs offer more keyboard shortcut options than Windows 10 does by default. With these hotkeys, you can open software, shut down the pc, restart Windows 10, adjust volume settings, and much more.

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