When it comes to controlling my computer using hotkeys, I’m a huge fan of AutoHotkey. However, if you’re just starting out on the path to complete keyboard domination, AutoHotkey may seem a bit daunting. Add-ons like ActivAid can make it easier to get started with AutoHotkey, but some people just prefer to go for a simpler Windows hotkeys app, at least at first. HotkeyP is a free, open-source application that combines lots of functionality with a simple interface.
What HotkeyP Doesn’t Do
HotkeyP isn’t a complete AutoHotkey alternative. First of all, you should know it’s not a scripting engine; while it does have limited support for “macros”, you won’t be using it to code complex Windows hotkeys automation scripts. The other thing HotkeyP isn’t aimed at is text replacement. Again, you can do this with HotkeyP, but if all you need is automatic text replacement, you may be better off with a dedicated solution such as PhraseExpress.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see what HotkeyP does well.
Configuring A Hotkey
This is what the main HotkeyP window looks like:
Here’s what happens when you click Add (to add a new hotkey):
As you can see, there’s not a line of code in sight. You need only decide what hotkey you wish to use, and then configure a command for it. The command can either be an application you wish to run, or a system operation (like “Monitor power off”, above). Let’s look at some of the available operations:
That’s a very rich selection, and that’s just in the first category. In fact, there are so many operations available, a “quick search” function might have come in handy. Even so, commands are divided pretty logically, so it’s not difficult to find what you’re looking for (if it’s available). You can also have HotkeyP prompt for confirmation before executing a certain hotkey – after all, you probably wouldn’t want to shut down your computer without asking for any sort of confirmation first.
Since HotkeyP isn’t a full-fledged programming solution, you will have to make do with the operations it already offers. Above you can see the System menu; the Display menu contains operations like powering the monitor off, changing the desktop resolution, and even switching wallpapers. The Window menu lets you change a window’s opacity, make it always on top, hide the window or application, switch tasks, and more. The Multimedia menu isn’t very impressive – it just lets you change the volume and perform CD-related operations (Eject CD, etc.).
HotkeyP includes a CHM file consisting of a long, long list of all commands and their arguments. Some commands are easy to use because they take no parameters, but if you’re trying to do something complex (such as change the screen’s resolution), you’ll really have to consult the manual – there’s no way to figure out what parameters a command takes just using the interface.
For novice users just looking to get started with Windows hotkeys, HotkeyP is definitely an interesting option. I think as long as you only need the simpler commands (such as run applications on your computer, or execute operations that don’t require arguments), HotkeyP will do just fine. But if you find yourself constantly reaching for the manual to figure out the parameters for different commands, you might want to graduate up to AutoHotkey.
Let us know which program you prefer or if you have a totally different favourite.