KeyLaunch – Launch Programs Fast by Typing in a Few Characters

Saikat Basu 21-11-2009

launch application from command lineSometimes we can wonder why Windows doesn’t make things a bit easier. For instance, launching applications should be an area for cutting some time. Windows 7 of course, has made it slightly easier with a re-working of the Quick Launch but it’s still not as fast as the speed of thought. It will be in the future but for now, some launcher software have brought it closer to a click.


Launcher applications increase productivity and help us to streamline our Windows interface. After all, if you launch your most frequently used programs from a behind the scenes launcher instead of shortcuts, our desktop becomes a more uncluttered place.

There are a host of launcher apps out there. Launchy How To Be More Productive with Launchy Program Launcher Read More is one of the more popular ones you might have heard about. Then we have covered a bunch at Top 7 Unknown Free Launcher Applications For Windows Top 7 Unknown Free Launcher Applications for Windows Read More . Is there room for one more?

You bet, because when it comes to software, it’s more the merrier.

This one’s called Key Launch. Key Launch is a little freeware that lets us ditch the shortcuts, the start menu and the run box. The working of Key Launch is simplicity itself. Type in a few characters that stand for your program and Key Launch opens it.


How to Launch Applications From the Command Line

    • Key Launch installs as a System Tray icon. Key Launcher automatically indexes all the programs under the Start Menu (including folders like Recent Documents). To activate it, you need to hit Ctrl+Space. At first, you will see a blank interface like the one below. Type in a few words and Key Launch lists all programs that correspond to it. You can click on any to open it.

launch application

    • Well, that’s not very customized. To add files, folders and programs that you want to quickly access, you have to set up a few things by hand initially using Aliases. Aliases are nothing but a short identifier that stands for any file, folder, program or web page you want to open using Key Launch. All the mechanism is in the Key Launch Preferences box.

launch application with command

Like ‘muo’ is defined as an alias for or “˜ww’ for WordWeb, setting up aliases is easy with a click on the + button and choosing characters that can stand for a favorite webpage or a program. While defining the alias, do test it out once by clicking on the Test button.

    • With aliases defined, bringing up the relevant application now requires you to hit Ctrl+Space and Enter as the aliased shortcut is usually the first one that’s on the list. The other minor but great thing is that the Key Launch also “˜learns’ which programs you operate frequently. So after a few launches, it automatically pushes that specific program on top of the list. For example, I could push “˜n’ for opening Notepad after opening it 3-4 times.
    • There are some special prefixes like mailto: followed by the email address that will open your default mail client with the address in the “˜To’ field. Or callto: followed by the contact name that will open up the VoIP application like Skype (but I found that this part didn’t work so smoothly with me).
    • Though Launch Keys indexes certain folders, you can set it up to include some of your own choices through the Folders to Index button in Preferences.

launch apps

    • As a launcher, Launch Keys takes over from the default “˜launcher’ that Windows gives us – the Run box. Use Launch Keys to run a command by pressing Ctrl+Enter.

key launch

    • Launch Keys can also act as your de facto calculator. Type in your math in the field box and hit enter.

launch applications from terminal

That covers the basic capabilities of this little application. To further it, one can use DNM scripts but that’s a bit beyond the average user. But what’s not is that you can take the whole installed folder and transfer it to your pen drive and use it as a portable app. That’s a help.

Key Launch and application launchers of its ilk help us be more productive. After a few uses, using the aliases becomes almost a subconscious habit. After a while aliases become more real than the shortcut icons themselves.


Which is your launcher app of choice?

Key Launch (v2.0) is a 1.3MB download and is supported on Windows XP/Vista.

Image Credit: Lukasz Strachanowski

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