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I know I can create custom keyboard shortcuts in Windows (7 and XP, at least) by creating a new shortcut to a program, navigating to Properties on the file shortcut, and setting the "Shortcut Key" field. Strangely, however, when this keyboard shortcut is invoked, it does not always spawn a new instance of the program. Rather, if a program instance is not already spawned, it will spawn a new instance; and if a program instance is already spawned, then it will focus that window.

How can I make a windows keyboard shortcut that spawns a new instance of the linked program, regardless of whether there is already a running instance of the linked program?

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Is this behavior identical for all programs? – Daniel Beck Dec 22 '11 at 6:36
Does it happen to applications for which you are able to open multiple instances otherwise ? – Shekhar Dec 22 '11 at 6:41
This happens for all the programs I've tested, including cygwin and notepad. – jbeard4 Dec 22 '11 at 6:45
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I seem to be the AutoHotkey ambassador here on Superuser. Here is a simple script to launch a new process each time:

Run notepad.exe
  • #n:: is the keyboard shortcut; e.g. Windows+N.
  • Run opens an external program; e.g. notepad.exe
  • Exit ends the current thread/script.
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That's the way to do it! – jbeard4 Dec 22 '11 at 7:01
Did you try it? I tested it a bit, and it created a new process each time. Let me know if you find out otherwise. :) – iglvzx Dec 22 '11 at 7:03
It's a good way to achieve it, but when using an external program you add another 'patch' to the OS, instead of using a built-in feature – BornToCode Jun 27 '13 at 8:32

I know this is a very old question but I had a similar problem and found a solution that doesn't require a third party application.

In windows 7/8, you can switch to apps quickly by pressing Windows+[number] where number is the position of the application on the taskbar. You can also pin your apps to the taskbar using the right click context menu. Lastly, you can start new instances of an app on the taskbar by pressing Windows+Shift+[number]. This works very well for me when I want to start new instances of cygwin, where I typically have 3+ windows and multiple monitors; I have cygwin pinned to by taskbar so the [number] does not change, and I can quickly start new instances and switch between currently running instances easily using the windows key.

Hope that helps everyone out there!

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