Tutorial Thursday

When it comes to computers I’d say that keyboard shortcuts (a.k.a. hotkeys) are something I couldn’t imagine not having at my beckon call. Certain applications take advantage of keyboard shortcuts more than others, but what we’re looking to do today is show you how to assign hotkeys to any folder, program, or URL that you come across.

Would you believe that any of the above can be done using a simple drag-and-drop action? It can be with Qliner Hotkeys, and I’ve been using it ever since Nosh introduced me to it last year.

Despite what you might be thinking this isn’t your run-of-the-mill hotkey configuration utility. What makes this special is the fact that it has a configurable on-screen keyboard that displays what key each shortcut is assigned to:

(Click to Enlarge)

How do you get the on-screen keyboard? During installation you were asked whether you wanted to use the Caps Lock key as a replacement for the Windows Key (for keyboards that have no Windows Key). If you choose to do this, hold down the Caps Lock key for 5-seconds, otherwise hold down the Windows Key for 5-seconds.

Did it work? You should have seen the keyboard with the default shortcuts already assigned. To use/activate any of the shortcuts shown just press the Windows Key followed by the key shown on the on-screen keyboard. What you’ve probably noticed by now is that working with the keyboard in this fashion could get quite annoying since it disappears as soon as you release the Windows Key. Try pressing the Windows Key+Z to bring up the keyboard more permanently.

Now you can go to town. I’d start by dragging and dropping your favorite folders and applications onto the shortcut keys:

qliner shortcut.png
(Click to Enlarge)

Don’t limit yourself to just programs and folders though. You can go to any website, and start dragging hyperlinks onto the keyboard to create shortcuts to your favorite URL’s. In this example I’m dragging our logo onto a key to create a shortcut to our homepage:

qliner ie shortcut.png
(Click to Enlarge)

If you make a mistake you can right-click on a key, and then select the Delete option. Also from the right-click menu you can copy and paste shortcuts from one key to another.

Don’t like the drag-and-drop method? The alternative method to adding shortcuts is to right-click on any key that hasn’t already been assigned a shortcut, and go to the New Hotkey menu. From there a wizard will take you through the necessary steps, or you can dive deeper into the menus to find pre-made shortcuts for things like shutting down your computer, minimizing all windows, volume control, and more.

That’s not all either! While you’ve got the keyboard up you can start playing with some of the customization options. To do this just right-click anywhere on an empty space on the keyboard, and start navigating through the menus. You can change the color of the keyboard to black, silver, or slate, and even alter the layout to match that of your laptop. Supported keyboard layouts are:

  • Dell Latitude
  • IBM Laptop
  • Sony VAIO Laptop
  • Standard Desktop Keyboard
  • Toshiba Laptop

I’m not sure if it could get any simpler than this for creating and managing your own hotkeys. If you’ve got a better tool that you use be sure to let us know in the comments.

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