How to Create Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows 10

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Any time you open a Windows app by rolling your mouse pointer over to an icon or lift your finger up and tapping on a tile, you're wasting time and putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder. The fastest and least physically-taxing way to launch any program is with a keyboard shortcut you can hit without even lifting your hands off of the homerow.  Windows 10 allows you to create custom shortcuts for any program, whether it's a traditional "desktop" app, a new-fangled "universal app" or one of Windows 8's "metro apps." Here's how.

Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts

Method 1: Create a Desktop Shortcut

1. Open a command prompt window. You can get there by typing "cmd" into the Cortana / Search box and then right clicking on Command Prompt and selecting "Run as administrator."

 run command prompt

2. Type "explorer shell:AppsFolder" (without quotes) at the command prompt and hit Enter. A window with a list of all your apps appears.

Type explorer shell:AppsFolder

3. Right click on an app and select Create shortcut. It may be easier to find your app if you change the view setting to "detailed list" so you can see all the icons in a single column.

 create shortcut

4. Click Yes when asked if you want the shortcut on the desktop. A new shortcut icon appears on your desktop.

Click yes

5. Right click on the new shortcut icon and select Properties.

Select properties

6. Enter a key combination in the Shortcut key field. The combination must be CTRL + ALT + a letter / number.

Enter key combination


7. Click OK.

Note: Remember not to use the same key combination twice. Also note that some programs use CTRL + ALT + keyboard shortcuts that would also launch if you were in their windows. For example, in Photoshop Elements, CTRL + ALT + I brings up the resize menu.

Method 2: Use the Start Menu

If you're creating a keyboard shortcut for a "desktop app," any application that installs via direct download rather than Windows Store alone, you can create the shortcut directly from the Start Menu. By using this method, you can avoid creating a separate shortcut icon on the desktop.

1. Open the Start Menu.

2. Navigate to the icon or tile for the app you want. If the app is not pinned as a tile, you can find it by clicking on the All apps and scrolling through the alphabetical list.

all apps menu

3. Right click and select Open file location. A window opens with a shortcut icon. If Open file location doesn't appear on the menu, this is a modern or universal app and you'll have to follow method 1 above.

open file location

4. Right click on the shortcut icon and select Properties.

select properties

5. Enter a key combination in the "Shortcut key" box. 

enter shortcut

6. Click OK.



Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • Barrack Obama Says:

    Don' waste your time with the first couple steps. Just right click on the icon on your desktop.

  • Joey Barton Says:

    I'm surprised to find out this method is so archaic for Windows. Linux has perfected this method more than a decade ago. You don't have to create a Desktop shortcut and you are not limited to the ctrl+alt combination. You can use every variation of ctrl, alt, shift, and super key.

  • Collin Says:

    The second method doesn't work with the Calculator. when you right click in the start menu you don't get an "Open File Location" option! Why?

  • Priya Bansal Says:

    I recently created a keyboard shortcut for my Git Bash (I didn't need to do anything like putting it onto my desktop... all I did was find where it was in my file explorer and then right-click and go to properties). Every time I use the shortcut, though, it opens up a new instance of Git Bash. I'd like it so that, if there's already an instance open, it brings that to the front of the screen instead of opening a new instance. How would I do that?

  • Maruf Rahman Says:

    Shortcut won't work after restart.

  • Shaurya Mathur Says:

    The keyboard shortcuts won't work once I remove the shortcut I placed on desktop :/.

  • Ding Dong Says:

    So dumb. This is why windows is failing in the UX world. Why do you HAVE to create a desktop shortcut first to have this feature? Thx to Todd M for the 'hidden' tip, but you still shouldn't have to do that.

  • Dona Dona Says:

    this does not work for me
    this does not work for me
    It is at least strange that this form does not work also. well it does work with wired conditions : name longer than 5 chars (what if my name is Li lo ?) and less than 30 chars in the message.

  • todd m Says:

    when your in properties, if you go to general tab and check hidden, it hides the icon on the desktop, but the shortcut will still work.

  • Growling At the Moon Says:

    that worked from windows 95 to XP (which I got all I could out of, with 3 re-installs as the hard drive eroded) but my Ctrl-Alt-P shortcut for Internet Exploder -inPrivate refuses to work in Windows 10.

  • Marge Worten Says:

    I want to know how to split a screen between two files. One file show on computer screen and the other on an attached moniter.

  • sanjay sharma Says:

    illustrative ,advantageous article.very glad to read

  • Divyansh Says:

    My right and left click on the mouse is not working. It does not respond on clicking. I tried to solve this problem on settings and unfortunately selected my primary button to right, now when I want to change it normal(left click), it doesn't give me the options to change. I want the drop box list shortcut or you can tell me what should I do?

  • Julius Jacobsen Says:

    Doesn't work properly with apps like the calculator. The keyboard shortcut only works if the shortcuts exists on the desktop, which I don't want. Stupid.

  • Durgesh Yadav Says:

    Very nice..give more tricks like this ..its interesting

  • Draxious Says:

    I use AutoHotkey, free down load type program so only download from a good source. This lets you create a script and is allocated to a shortkey sequence of your choosing. As kevin says what he wants to achieve can all be programmed into a sequence then allocated to a key sequence or even a free F button so a single press can do quite complicated actions.

  • Cliffe Zaki Says:

    THank you. It is functional. Works well.

  • John Doe Says:

    Thank You!Worked like a wonder.

  • Bills Says:

    This is unfortunately to slow to be useful.

    Thanks anyways.

  • DavidB Says:

    It'd be nice if we didn't have to have a million desktop apps for everything. What we want is hot keys to replace clicking, so this works for opening apps but not for switching back and forth between windows. This is why ubuntu is so much better

  • Kevin Says:

    I was hoping to do something different, then merely open an app using keystrokes. The main way I wish to use notepad, is by first opening a folder. Then when I am in the folder, I wish to create a new notepad document. In Windows XP, all I would need to do is [ALT], f, w, t. In more detail. I would first press Alt. Then I would release Alt. Next, I would press and release F, which opens the File menu. After that, I would press w, which opens the 'new' submenu. Finally, I would press t, which creates a new 'text' document. Now, I feel like I ma being punished, because I took that process for granted. If I do that with Windows 10, I hear a noise, telling me "You cannot accomplish that here". So how should I go about creating a shortcut that is more context sensitive, and creates a new text document inside of the active folder?

  • Alex123 Says:

    Both ways don't work for built in apps, like calc etc. Degradation for UX...

  • theone Says:

    Plz, just please don't use this outdated technique, there is many better ways and much faster way to start apps, type passwords, autocorrect or anything you can imagine, just use AHK (Autohotkey) and learn how to use it's basic macro functions, it's MUCH faster and better than any of the ways listed here and best of all it's FREE, check it out on google m8 i swear you will enjoy! (if you put the necessary effort into learning what you want to do with it.)

  • Daniel Says:

    For Windows Store Apps it only works if it's on the desktop, so it's pointless.

  • Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    It isn't as fast as it was in Windows 7 or 8. However, I find that it is better when the shortcuts are on the desktop or in the Start menu.

  • John Chapman Says:

    Thank you. This works but it's SLOW!
    I created a CTRL + ALT + END shortcut to open the calculator app and it takes almost three seconds to open it.

  • DSS Says:

    It's easy to read thought.
    Really helpful! :)

    Btw. Do you think you can make a review of the MSI GE62 2QF Apache Pro w/GTX970m?

    For a 970m gaming notebook I think it's a really good value.
    It's currently around 1350$ (Haswell version).

    I can't find any reviews of the 970m Apache Pro, just some of the Apache. So it would been really great if you guys could review it!

    I think maybe the new Broadwell version seems more plausible to review, but it cost 150$ more. It probably would drop in price after some time tho. ^-^

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