Time Saving Tuesday

One of the features in Mac OS X that often gets some attention is what’s called “hot corners.” It’s a simple concept that gives the user an opportunity to assign actions that are performed whenever their mouse hits a corner of the screen. With the help of some free Windows apps you too will also be able to bask in the goodness known as hot corners!

We’ve got a variety of solutions that we’re going to show you, and all of them make use of hot corners. With them you’ll be able to show your desktop, put your computer into standby, enable the screensaver, activate Vista’s Flip3D, and much more. That’s right… all of that without using any keyboard shortcuts!

–Application (Homepage)–

This is a small free app that will bring hot corners to life for your Windows computer. Once you go through the brief setup process the program will immediately start running in the System Tray. The first thing you’ll want to do is configure Hot Corners so that there are some actions associated with the corners of the screen. Here are the different actions you can assign to each of the four corners:

  • Open the control panel
  • Lock/Switch User
  • Open “My Documents”
  • Run any application or open any folder
  • Start your Screensaver
  • Search Google
  • Show your desktop
  • Put your computer into standby mode
  • Disable/Enable your Screensaver
  • Close the current window

Hmmm… the problem is that there are so many good choices, but only four corners to work with. See that extra tab in the configuration screen labeled “Mouse Move?” You can actually assign up to four more mouse gestures using these! To activate the mouse gesture you’ll want to hold down the Windows key+X, and then move your mouse up, left, right, or down respectively.

Here are some screenshots of what the configuration screens looks like:

(Click to Enlarge)
hot corners.png hot corners 2.png

–Vista Gadget (Homepage)–

vista hot corners.pngIf you’re running Vista then the Hot Corners gadget will likely be one that you’ll love. Bundled with it is a homebrew version of Mac’s Expose so that whenever you hit a corner of the screen that you specifed all of your active applications will be tiled. Alternatively you could have it activate Vista’s native Flip3D application switcher.

One thing that I want to point out is that this gadget doesn’t really turn a corner of the screen into a mouse-activatable area… it’s more like an edge. As you can see in the screenshot to the right the edge has a customizable height, which means it can essentially become as large or small as you would like.

There are two tricks that I’ve found while using this:

  • You can’t set the gadget to be 100% transparent, but you can come close. You can take the opacity down to 20% by right-clicking on the gadget. This will make it nearly invisible.
  • Remember, you can have multiple “copies” of nearly all Vista gadgets. Just drag as many as you want onto your desktop, and then move them into position. That way you could use one corner/edge of the screen for Expose, and another for Flip3D!

–AutoHotkey Script (Homepage)–

This is geared for the slightly more advanced users out there that are familiar with AutoHotkey scripting. This is currently only available in a script fashion, and you’ll need to have AutoHotkey installed to compile it. The reason why I wanted to share this is that it’s one of the more powerful hot corner solutions available, and the possibilities of what you can do with the hot corners is nearly endless thanks to how extensive AutoHotkey is.

There’s just a small amount of code that you’ll need to modify located near the top. To help make this even more unique it is designed to allow up to four different actions per corner. How’s that possible? In addition to the typical mouse-over it also recognizes whether you’re holding down the Control, Alt, or Shift keys. I’d have to believe that once you get over a dozen hot corner actions assigned that it would be pretty hard to remember what each of them do. ;)


So I think it’s time to give your fingers a break from all of those keyboard shortcuts. Setup some hot corners to help satisfy your need for speed!