Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for some program (free or paid) which just runs in the background (preferably hidden), and just keeps monitoring the keys you type .. and whenever it detects some specific key combination, it does something .. like run a script or a program, or launches some website or something ..

Anyone know of any such program ?

share|improve this question
Do you need it to go undetected? What you're asking would require a keyboard hook, which should be detected by anti-malware programs. – Robert Kerr Aug 20 '11 at 21:50
I can add an exception if needed .. It would ne running on my own system, so its okay .. – Ahmad Aug 21 '11 at 2:05
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Another program with the set of features you're after is Autohotkey.

Autohotkey has many automation features, amongst them is

Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.

You can specify any set of hotkeys that you like and then specify a script or command to run upon detection of that hotkey.

There's a brief set of tutorials here. But as an example if (after installing Autohotkey) you create a script (e.g. myScript.ahk) with the following

Run Notepad.exe

and run it you will get a little "A" in your system tray. If you press Windows+n it will run whatever program is associated to open URLs, then proceed to run notepad.

If you just want single hotkey to single command then

#n::Run Notepad
^!c::Run calc.exe

Windows+n will run Notepad, and CTRL+Alt+c will run calc.exe

As you can see you can have a multitude of hotkeys in one script, ready to run whenever you like.

The turtorial and other documentation is quite good, check it out.


To answer your comment:

Generally I would expect the hotkeys to be a combination of keys to be pressed (and held) at the same time, the problem with typing "c h r o m e" is that you'll never be able to go to a website such as Superuser and ask a question about chrome without it coming up with a new window for your browser.

What you are after is doable though, using hotstrings in Autohotkey. typically these are used to expand abbreviations so (as in their example on the page I just linked) you can type "btw" and have it automatically replaced with it's full form of "by the way".

From this documentation page I would expect the following to do what you expect:

::chrome::Run chrome.exe

Though I would make the "chrome" something less likely to get typed in the normal course of using your computer, perhaps chrme or something, though that doesn't rule out spelling mistakes (of "charmed" or similar) annoying you.

To do this simply as a hotkey (all pressed at the same time) I would expect it to look like this:

chrome::Run chrome.exe

Note that a hotstring line begins with :: while a hotkey line does not.

share|improve this answer
Sounds like what I need ... So can I set the hotkey to be like this: c h r o m e (i.e. 6 letters on the keyboard), and then set that to launch chrome ... Of course this is just an example and not what I actually want to do .. – Ahmad Aug 21 '11 at 20:07
Actually, just to clarify for myself, are you expecting to hold all these keys at the same time or to specifically type it one character at a time, the first is doable using the hotkey method, the second is via the hotstring method, I've detailed them both in my answer. – Mokubai Aug 21 '11 at 20:54
Although I haven't tried it out yet (life is busy - don't have time :/), but it sounds like its what I needed ... So I'm marking your answer .. Thanks ! :) – Ahmad Aug 22 '11 at 20:09

You could hotkey customizations: Keyboard Launchpad Or something like a "bosskey" program and have the program in question already running and hidden.

share|improve this answer
So can I define something like when the user types in the following keys: c h r o m e .. its launches chrome for example ? .. This is what I'm looking for ... I am NOT looking for the traditional keyboard shortcuts like CTRL+ALT+C launches chrome or something .. – Ahmad Aug 21 '11 at 2:05
I think we need more details on your use case. If you'll be working at the command prompt you could just create batch or command files that launch the program you want and make sure they're in your path. Otherwise you'd need some kind of modified key logger and you'd be at risk of tripping the launcher when sending emails, writing letters etc. You'd need it to have some context sensitivity. – OldWolf Aug 21 '11 at 17:41

You can assign keys combination on desktop shortcuts. Create an application shortcut on desktop and right click on it, choose Properties. Then click Shortcut tab. There is a setting for shortcut key.

share|improve this answer
Nope that won't work .. The requirement is such that I need to type in a predefined word, which would launch something .. so for example if I defined 'chrome' to launch googl chrome, then typing in : c h r o m e .. would launch chrome ... – Ahmad Aug 21 '11 at 2:02
@Ahmad You mean like the search bar built into Windows 7? :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 21 '11 at 4:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.