CyberNotes
Time Saving Tuesday




Desktop shortcuts can be extremely useful for doing common tasks like launching applications, opening commonly used folders, and pulling up your favorite websites, but few people take the time to use shortcuts for anything else. With the help of some very small programs we’re going to show you how to create supercharged shortcuts that can do more than you probably thought was possible.

What will you be able to do? Things like adjust the volume on your computer, turn your monitor off, lock your computer, disable WiFi, and much more. The shortcuts that we’ll create can be especially useful when used in conjunction with a keyboard launcher, such as Launchy.

I have two different free applications that are going to assist us in creating the advanced shortcuts, and each one weighs in under 100KB. You don’t have to install them, but one thing you will have to do is manually create the shortcuts. So the first thing we’re going to show you is how you can manually create a shortcut, and we’ll follow that up with the two applications you can use to enhance the shortcuts.


–How to Create a Desktop Shortcut–

  1. Right-click on the executable of one of the applications (wizmo.exe or nircmd.exe) and click the Create Shortcut option:
    create shortcut.jpg
  2. Right-click on the new shortcut that was created, and choose Properties. Now what you need to do is edit the “Target” field by appending commands onto the executable. Using the Wizmo application as an example, the Target field would look like this to turn the monitor off:
    target wizmo.jpg
  3. Repeat these steps to create however many shortcuts you would like.

–Wizmo (Homepage)–

Wizmo is one of my favorite tools for creating advanced shortcuts because it has a wealth of features buried within it. It includes options to power down your computer, put it into standby, lock it, open/close the CD drive, enable/disable WiFi, turn the monitor off, adjust the volume, and more. Multiple commands can be used in a single shortcut making it even more useful. You can do things like mute the volume, turn off the monitor, and disable the WiFi all in one shortcut. The shortcut for this would look something like:

wizmo.exe mute=1 monoff wanlock

Additionally Wizmo has a nice feature, called graviton, that will activate the built-in screensaver, and will execute some command(s) once the user returns. For example, entering this into the shortcut:

wizmo.exe mute=1 graviton mute=0

will cause the music to be muted until the user returns to the computer. Similarly this shortcut will increase the volume to 80% when the user is away from the computer, and decrease it when the user returns:

wizmo.exe volume=80 graviton volume=20

Once you get into mixing and matching the various commands you’ll find that this will become an indispensable tool. Visit the Wizmo homepage for more commands that you can use.

Tip: If you double-click on the wizmo.exe file it will show you a list of commands available to use in the application. That’s all it does though.

–NirCmd (Homepage)–

NirCmd is actually very similar to Wizmo in that you modify shortcuts to create a powerful commands. I find Wizmo to be a bit simpler to configure, and NirCmd can’t recognize multiple commands in a single shortcut. On the flipside NirCmd has a lot more things that you can do including adjusting the window transparency of a certain application, terminating a process, modifying the registry, emptying the Recycle Bin, and dozens of other things.

Here is an example command for setting the transparency of all Internet Explorer windows to 75% (note that the 75% is calculated as 192/256, similarly 50% transparency would be 128)

nircmd.exe win trans ititle “internet explorer” 192

We’ve also shown how to create shortcuts to kill processes in the past, but you can do the same thing with this application. Here’s an example for killing off Internet Explorer:

nircmd.exe killprocess iexplore.exe

NirCmd does a lot more than I’ve ever needed, and for that reason I’ve always stuck with Wizmo. It’s always good to have options though.

–Overview–

Who would have ever thought that something as simple as a shortcut could be so handy? If you’re trying to decide which of the two apps to use I would start with Wizmo, and become acquainted with that first. Once you get that under your belt you can checkout some of the things NirCmd offers to see if it would be any more useful to you.

If you decide to give one of the apps a whirl feel free to mention in the comments some of the shortcuts you come up with.