A Celebration of The Windows Key

I'm sure everyone knows that the Windows key brings up the Start Menu, but there are also a bunch of standard Windows key shortcuts built into Windows:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2005/09/a-celebration-of-the-windows-key.html

Win-R winword works just fine over here.

Ah, right, it must be in the path already…

WinKey + U brings up the utility manager.

Thanks, I added that one to the list!

Win + Q sets gives focus to a floating inputfield, where i can type the following:

Yes, but I think all the same functionality can be delivered through Win + R and shortcuts… if I create a shortcut named “g” with the command line…

"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE" http://www.google.com/search?q=

I can then do Win+R, “g test” and get a google search for test. Well, test with a leading space, I haven’t quite worked that part out yet…

Another way of programs to execute from the Run dialog without adding them to the PATH is to add a Registry key under “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths”. I’m pretty sure I saw this described in a “things good Setup programs ought to do” document but a surprising number of apps don’t do it…

But launching is just one of 8 things, plus all things we do with various agents.

ActiveWords is so vastly more powerful than what you have written about! The hardest part is gettting people to modify their behavior. You have already done that, why not do more?

Let me know if you have any questions/comments about ActiveWords and I will do my best to get you answers.

Also, let me know if you think having a guided tour would enhance your understanding of ActiveWords.


I find Windows key + D a favourate of mine, to bring up the desktop then pressing it again brings all the windows back!

Windows key + L is a new one to me, I’ll remember this one to impress people with the speed at which I can lock my workstations! :slight_smile:

Speaking of Environment Variables, from the Run Dialog enter the following %tmp%. This will launch the File Explorer and take you to the system defined temporary directory. (This should work on Win95, Win2000, WinXP, etc.) So, why not create your own? You can create an Environment Variable that will take you to a directory, launch a file, or take you to a web site. I also created a little command-line util to help manage variables. For more info see my blog at a href="http://rtodosic.blogspot.com/2004/11/setglobal.html"http://rtodosic.blogspot.com/2004/11/setglobal.html/a

By the way, thanks for your posts. I always find them very useful and insightful.

WinKey + U brings up the utility manager. I use magnifier all of the time for web development (pixel-perfect slap).

I’m used to winkey+r, winword/iexplore/excel/powerpnt/pbrush/notepad now.

I have long been a fan of making shortcuts, naming them appropriately, and dumping them in System32. I used “IE” to save myself time typing iexplore back before I switched to Firefox for good. I have used “home” as a shortcut to a remote desktop .rdp file that automatically opened a connection to my home machine with my screen size / color depth preferences.

Good times.

“Start, Run, “word” won’t launch Microsoft Word, for example”

That’s because the executable is called “winword”. Win-R winword works just fine over here. Try and figure out power point without looking – it’s impossible.

Slickrun is also a nice tool:
Win + Q sets gives focus to a floating inputfield, where i can type the following:

“g searchstring” for googling
"m" for outlook
"music" for mediaplayer+explorer on musicdirectory
"babel word2lookup" to get a translation
"sql" for my queryanalyzer
"imdb moviename" guess what
"noir" calls a midget to fill my coffeecup

actually that last one isn’t true :stuck_out_tongue:

all cmd commands are still available offcourse

For all your environment variables: type SET at a command prompt.


HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\

Add a Key called "randomWordDocument.exe"
Inside the key, set default’s value to “C:\My Documents\random.doc”

Now whenever you enter “randomWordDocument” (no need for the “.exe” part) it will launch “C:\My Documents\random.doc”… depending on you system, most likely inside of Microsoft Word.

I type “c”, “d” and “e” to quickly launch those drives. “zip” for Winzip, “ff” for Firefox etc.


That tricky to do… so use AppPaths ( http://www.gregorybraun.com/AppPaths_ss.html ) to save you from messing with the registry.

It’s so helpfull that the first thing you should do is add an entry called “run.exe” so that you can launch it by typing “run” into the Windows Run dialog box.

I love the WinKey, but do WAY more than these with it. The secret is the free AutoHotKey This lets you bind any action you like to any combination of keys you can imagine. I use the WIN+Letter key for my most frequent shortcuts, and RCTRL+Letter for a bunch of others. If that’s not sufficient, you can bind arbitrarily complex keys Ctrl+Alt+Win+Letter or even PrntScrn+Shift+Letter up to the limits of your brain’s capacity. Hitting a key launches a very powerful script engine that can do some amazine things. It can start programs, terminate programs, send keys or mouse clicks, activate, deactivate, expand, minimize… you name it. Check it out. It’s my absolute favorite bit of coolness.

I have a folder called “Often” within the “Start Menu” folder (right click the Start button and choose Explore) once I have created this folder I drag and drop shortcuts (holding down CTRL to make sure you COPY the shortcut rather than moving the original) from all over the shop to this folder - I then rename them to ensure that the first letter is unique and logical - from here I can be three keypresses away from what I want eg WINKEY - brings up start menu, O - selects the “Often” Menu, N selects Notepad, I dont need to hold down the WINKEY while I press O so can be drinking my tea while launching Notepad. I like this method also because it is easy to maintain (No registry hacks). If you know how to drag the menu items around and drop them then you cab set it up and alter it when new Apps are installed very quickly. Transferring to another computer is simply a ZIP away.

I’m still waiting for a Windows version of Quicksilver to come out. (a href="http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/)"http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/)/a It’s changed the way I work with my iBook. I use slick run on my XP machines but it’s no where near as powerful as Quicksilver.

You find some nice changes in Windows Vista as it is much smarter you can type things like word and it opens word note opens note internet opens the default browser…

  1. An almost complete list of Windows keyboard shortcuts for Windows XP can be found in C:\WINDOWS\Help\keyshort.chm

  2. Above list is missing Win+B (first introduced in XP) that gives focus to the first tray icon–or focus to that show/hide () arrow if you are hiding tray icons

  3. Win+Break should actually be Win+Pause. If you use a language that lets you simulate these keypresses–VB Script won’t work with those keys–then only Win+Pause brings up system properties.

Excellent, I updated the list. Thanks for the tips!

Here’s a list of 113 commands you can use with Windows-R (Run):


Some aren’t very useful, and a few you already know about (calc, etc), but there are definitely a few gems in there. Worth reading through.

If someone wants an “appPaths”-like tool that autoregisters executable, that is selected in TotalCommnder, to be able to run through Win+R (with C (MSVC++ 7.0) source code), you may contact me (a href="http://void_shambler_0.livejournal.com/profile)"http://void_shambler_0.livejournal.com/profile)/a
The project is too small to have a homepage.