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Numeric keys on your keyboard are mostly under-utilized. The arrangement is however extremely familiar and you use it all the time in mobile phones, calculators etc. Controlpad is an application that lets you takes advantage of the numeric key pad and literally turns it into a control pad for your computer.

ControlPad allows you to execute custom run commands by entering specific numbers. Press the * key and then enter the numbers or what we will call a ‘code’ and the appropriate command will be executed.

ControlPad is available as a Windows installer package as well as a portable zip version that you can put on your USB drive to carry it along with you.

Once you have installed the program (or you have run the portable version) you will see ControlPad residing in the system tray waiting for your input. The way you use ControlPad is really simple: Press and hold the * key till you see an input panel like below

Now you can key in the numbers to run any command. ControlPad allows you to run commands and applications, open any document, open any web address, or send keystrokes to the application in focus to make repetitive tasks easier.

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However before you can go about executing commands in a hurry you would have to tell ControlPad what you want to do when you key in a particular code. This is easily done from the same interface. Follow these steps :

  • Press and hold *
  • Enter the code you want to configure
  • Then hit the ‘/’ (divide) key. You will now be able to enter the command you want to execute or browse to the application you want to launch at the specific code. You can also use the built in useful commands to control your media player, browser, volume etc.

Now whenever you enter this code, the appropriate command will be run. All the commands are stored in a “command file”. The command file is a simple text file, you can easily back it up or edit the commands to your liking.

You can customize ControlPad from within ControlPad Settings. You can customize the font, the look, transparency, sound, save/restore settings etc from within the settings dialog.

ControlPad also has a beeper function that allows you to set up reminders and alarms quickly.

  • Use the ++X syntax to set up a alarm to sound off after X seconds.
  • +XXXX would sound an alarm at XX:XX (in 24 hr format)

So using ++7 would sound off an alarm after 7 minutes and +1700 will sound an alarm at 5 pm.

You can also use the + key when entering codes to run multiple commands. As an example if 1 launches Firefox and 2 launches Winamp, then entering 1+2 will launch both Firefox and Winamp. As an indication you will see a green mark in the lower right corner of the interface whenever a command is available for the code (or combination of codes) that you have entered.

ControlPad does require that you know the code to run a particular command – however since you are the one creating the code that should not be much of a problem. It is a handy application and the ability to carry it along on a USB drive makes it even more useful. You can now easily launch applications using the same codes on different computers as long as the commands remain the same.

Let us know what you think about ControlPad in the comments.

  1. Griffinh
    August 16, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    This does not work at all with Synery, the mouse and keyboard sharing app. I would love if it did.

  2. Chris
    August 16, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I just use Launchy, free and works great to lunch any app or find any file on Windows... just like QuickSilver does on the Mac for all these years.

  3. Sector-Seven
    August 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Not familiar with textr, but any application that also hooks any of the keys that ControlPad uses, will naturally collide with it and cause one or the other to not function properly.
    If there is a source available for textr, I can take a look see if I can do something in my code to avoid this.
    Until then, you may use Laptop mode, which makes F12 the launch key.

  4. Damastah
    August 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Also, there might be a problem when running other AutoHotKey coded programs. I have textr running too. (LifeHacker) and while its running, the (*) key doesnt call up the input panel.

  5. Damastah
    August 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    U know what else is awesome and wasnt mentioned in the review? The fact that you can not only use numbers, but letters too. I prefer the letters as a shortcut because letter have meaning. Good Job Sector Seven, a definite keeper

  6. Sector-Seven
    August 10, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for this post.
    Charax - your two commands in one code should be easy to implement. I think I can do it for the next release.

    As for more extensive documentation - I thought nobody reads help files anymore... :)

  7. Charax
    August 10, 2009 at 10:07 am

    I've been playing around with this today after seeing it on gHacks, and while it's a very handy program (I'm using it as an app launcher on my thumb drive) it lacks a couple of features I'd like:
    1) single codes for multiple commands. Rather than typing in 1+2 to open Firefox and Winamp, I want to be able to tell the config file that 1 opens both Firefox and Winamp together.

    2) More comprehensive documentation. It was only through some messing around that I found out Relative program paths worked (whic is useful for the portable version, where drive letters may change)

    • rchard2scout
      December 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm

      you can use single codes for multiple commands, you can use a ";" to seperate commands. If this doesn't work, go to the options panel> advanced tab, and change the settings over there.

  8. MCSwan
    August 10, 2009 at 8:00 am

    and you use it all the time in mobile phones, calculators etc.

    Except, you know, it's not. The keypad is upside down on phones.

    What can I say, it's a snarky Monday morning. Interesting application, though. I'll have to give it a try.

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