How to Create Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 10

During your busy day you might find yourself opening or re-opening specific software repeatedly. While there’s nothing wrong with a shortcut on the desktop or using pinned taskbar shortcuts, custom shortcuts can really cut down the amount of time you spend hunting and opening software. After all, your keyboard is in front of you at all times –  why not use it? Here are some options for you to create custom keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10.

Utilising Your Pinned Applications

If you use pinned applications on your taskbar, you may be surprised to learn that you’ve already set up hotkeys for them! All you have to do is hold down the Win key on your keyboard and push the number that corresponds to the position of the app on your taskbar like, for instance, in this picture.


If you pressed “Windows Key + 1.” you’d open Internet Explorer. If you did “Windows Key + 2,” you’d open Windows Explorer, and “Windows Key + 3” wouldopen the Store app. This means that apps pinned to your taskbar already have their own shortcut for it! You can pin apps either by right-clicking a shortcut and clicking “Pin to Taskbar” or right-clicking an app already on the taskbar and pinning it that way instead.


Creating a Shortcut

But what if you don’t want to pin software to your taskbar? Thankfully, Windows 10 has custom shortcuts functionality outside of pinned taskbar apps. All you need is a shortcut on hand, and you’re good go to.

First, right-click the shortcut of the program you want to make a shortcut for. Click Properties.


Then, click on the “Shortcut” tab if you’re not taken to it by default.


Here you’ll see a range of different options to change. The one you’re looking for is called “Shortcut key” and should be set to “None.” Click within the box that says “None,” then press a character key on your keyboard. Windows 10 should automatically create a “Ctrl + Alt” combination with the key that you just pressed. Make sure to test the shortcut before you set it, as something else might already be using that specific shortcut combination!


Once you OK out of the window, you’ll be able to press the key combination you defined to launch the app.

What If There’s No Shortcut?

But what if you can’t find a shortcut for what you want to open? Perhaps it’s buried somewhere in your files, or it’s a system-based application which naturally doesn’t have shortcuts on the desktop. How do you make a keyboard shortcut for it?

To do this, we need to open the Applications folder. You can do this by opening the Run window (You can do so with Win + R – there’s another shortcut for you!) and typing shell:AppsFolder into the box and clicking OK.


This will show you a huge list of executables, including applications which don’t usually have shortcuts on the desktop. You can sort them by name if you want to find the one you’re looking for faster. Once you’ve found it, however, you’ll come across a snag; when you right-click an application, no “Properties” option appears!


However, if you look through the menu, you’ll find “Create shortcut.” If you click this, you can then create a shortcut that appears on your desktop. You can then set a hotkey for it through the usual method.

Keeping It Short

Creating custom keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10 can make opening applications really easy. Thankfully, it’s not difficult whatsoever, and if you have pinned software on your taskbar, you already have some set up!

How often do you use keyboard shortcuts in work or daily life? How do you set them up? Let us know below.

Simon Batt Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.


  1. As a blind computer user, keyboard shortcuts are my bread and butter. Every application I use, including my screen reader (text to speech software that reads me everything on the screen that it recognizes), has tons of customizable shortcuts. I have numerous ctrl+Alt shortcuts to launch applications. All of my windows+# pinned shortcuts are in use. I use a Kinesis Advantage Pro keyboard (someone said it look like you’re typing into two ice cream bowls) and it is entirely customized to fit my hands and work style. That one drives my wife and friends nuts if they try to use the keyboard because all the keys are re-mapped and don’t do what they say they do on the actual key label. Lastly, I use the program Active Words which was recommended by david Allen of the Getting Things Done book to create text and program shortcuts to make typing faster and more efficient. Oh, I forgot to mention that my Kinesis has a foot pedal and an embedded key layer so those are all shortcuts too, I push the pedal down, press the letter F, and Firefox comes up; there are also 36 or more macros that you can enable, there’s a new version of that keyboard but I do not have the money for it. But one thing I need to point out to all who are reading this, especially softtware developers, Please, Please, and again, Please put keyboard shortcuts in your application and make them easy to work with. This means please do NOT use the Tab key as a modifier! There is one application that hasn’t put keyboard shortcuts in its web app and it’s the only app I can use for it on a desktop, the Ios app is sort of accessible. It’s name, friends, is Evernote. The most popular note taking software IN THE WORLD has not put any keyboard shortcuts into their web app. I do not understand what is so hard about this. i have posted on forums, made comments on michael Hyatt’s blog, emailed tech support (no response) and I’m all out of ideas. I just, don’t, get, it. So I hope that someone from Evernote or someone who knows someone who knows someone else can get this to a developer there. Ok, pleading case done with. So, the long story is that, yes, I use keyboard shortcuts, they make up my daily existence. I love them. Thanks for posting this so people can save a ton of time by pressing keys that are already in front of them.

    1. Dave,

      You might be able to nudge Evernote into making hotkeys. It’s probably uncharted waters since the American Disability Act probably hasn’t dealt with many or if any court cases with respect to computers and the internet. But, call your local ACLU and they will probably take your case. Your situation seems like the perfect case to expand the law into the area of tech. The ADA law doesn’t force companies to cough up tons of money to accommodate a few disabled but if it’s not too difficult, the law forces companies to make changes.

      In your case, it seems (I’m not a programmer) like it would be easy to add shortcuts but they probably haven’t done so because they are too busy with other stuff. I predict that you might even get your name in the newspaper!

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