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I've got a couple of shortcuts on my desktop and on some of them I've configured the "Shortcut key" to a keyboard combination. For example I have a shortcut pointing to d:\documents\todo.txt and I've set Shift + Alt + T. This naturally opens up using notepad.

Double-clicking on the icon always opens up the text file immediately. Using the keyboard shortcut though is sometimes very (5-10 seconds) slow. Note that during that time CPU utilization does not rise.

This happens to all my machines (both old and new ultra fast boxes) in Windows XP (various versions) and Windows 7.

There are tons of questions about this but no solution.

Is there an explanation and solution to this problem?

Edit: The behavior is not consistent. I have 30 desktop shortcut and 5 of them have keyboard shortcuts assigned. I'm not interested in software alternatives for this Windows functionality. I want to know what the problem is and how to solve it.

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Does this happen when booting in Safe mode? If not, then try turning off your antivirus or other security products. If this helps, tell us which product caused this. –  harrymc Jul 30 '13 at 15:14
@Psycogeek: Good observation but D: or a sleeping drive doesn't have anything to do with this. –  cherouvim Aug 4 '13 at 5:10
If I was observing a little closer :-( , I would have noticed that your shortcuts are working fine. It is only the Keyboard shortcuts that have the delay. None of your "windows" own Key commands are slow right? –  Psycogeek Aug 4 '13 at 5:32
Could you remark on my comment above? –  harrymc Aug 4 '13 at 6:29
I killed "SetPoint.exe", Logitech's mouse parameters software, and it resolved my problem –  Goldorak84 Sep 23 '13 at 15:56

7 Answers 7

The problem might have some to do with how windows finds these shortcuts. Any reasonable person might expect that they store the shortcut data in the registry, the registry resides in ram, and they put everything else in there :-)

Instead the Key shorcuts for .INK and .URL are inside the shortcut itself.


As you can see in the picture , after trying to trace down where it was in the registry (its not), I found the change in the Shortcut own data itself.

There are 2 major locations where this data is scanned from, anywhere in all of the start menu, and via the desktop folder.

When people find that removing some program, or some web program, "fixes" the problem, mabey it has to do with items , or mappings, or some unapproved stuff in the start menu or the desktop?

After realising the method used, it was easy enough to take the advice of using another method other than windows, to do the same things.

The notepad shortcut method used, is going to add microbes of delay also. A shortcut to a text file itself, that will eventually open a notepad, will get to go through a fun process. Find the class bounce around in the registry, find the associated program, open that program, and pass in that parameter.

Most program shortcuts can have quoted whole paths "C:\Windows\Notepad" , instead of using environment variables to eventually locate the program, in the many environment variable paths. . Many programs like to stuff thier program path into the enviroment variable path, they have even broken the "search path" there by making the line to long.

Most Program shortcuts can also have quoted parmeters placed after the quoted program path "d:\documents\todo.txt". this has the computer finding the file direct without searching or guessing, and passing the file to it imediataly. (the quotes only nessisary when there are spaces)

If you want to see speed, try it as "C:\Windows\Notepad" "d:\documents\todo.txt" And cut out the middleman. Create the shortcut for the program instead (notepad), and add a parameter for the txt file into the program shortcut. Ok its like DOS now :-) But faster.

To check the enviroment variables (which is only for specific issues) Go to "System", and in the "System Properties", in "Advanced" bring up the "Enviroment Variables" and look at the mess in the PATH variable.

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My personal experience was that there was a program that was delaying Windows' handling of the hotkey. For myself it was Steam, for Andreas it was Akamai.

To diagnose which application is responsible simply close an application and try your hotkey again. Once you figure out who the culprit is, decide whether it's a service that you can deal with not running at all times.

I know this is a fairly old question, but after not finding an answer I stumbled upon the solution and felt the need to share it with the community.

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For me it was setpoint.exe, logitech's mouse software –  Goldorak84 Mar 24 '14 at 16:56

I cannot reproduce your problem and do not remember having it on any of my computers. I do not notice any difference to opening a shortcut by clicking. I have only very few of these shortcuts, though, 2 tops.

  • Is there a software that listens for hotkeys that is installed on all your rigs? Maybe this causes shortcuts to be recognized slowly? It could be any app with global hotkeys. You'd have to manually close them one by one to see if it makes any difference.
  • How many shortcuts do have? 10, 20, 30? If you have many, it could also mean slower reaction time.

To speed things up: You could try using a third party software for managing your shortcuts (like AutoHotkey, PhraseExpress or Clavier+ (all of which are available as aportable app). Hopefully, they will work faster. I am using them anyway and keep them on a flash drive to use on multiple computers.

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Thanks for the answer. I've updated my question with some data. –  cherouvim May 21 '12 at 13:32

I had a delay for 2 seconds, starting Notepad using Ctrl+Alt+N that I use to have as its shortcut key. The solution to get rid of the delay was to disable Akamai Netsession client.

To see if this is your problem, you can open Windows Task Manager, and select the "Netsession_win.exe", rightclik and select "End process tree". (There are two Netsession entries, one of them probabli spawning the other - selecting end process tree kills them both).

Now try your shortcut keys again.

If they are quick and nice now, make the change permanent either by uninstalling Akamai NetSession Interface from Add Remove programs in the control panel, or by disabling it in msconfig (so that it doesn't start automatically).

This is how to disable it by opening msconfig: * Start menu / Run / write "msconfig" / Enter. * Switch to the "Startup" tab. * Uncheck the entry with the name "Akamai Netsession Client".

However I'd uninstall it, and only install it again if it is needed. It's just a download agent that some companies use for downloading their software (I believe Microsoft and Adobe has used it).

This was the location of the akamai program: c:\Users\myname\AppData\Local\Akamai\netsession_win.exe

Hope this will help out.

Best regards, Andreas

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Thanks but I don't have anything Akamai related in my PCs. –  cherouvim Jun 17 '13 at 13:12
It might be some other program on your computer then. I had to go through almost all running services and processes on my computer – stopping the unnecessary ones – one by one, until I found the one (Akamai) that caused the delay. Windows has to "ask" every running process "Will you handle this shortcut key?", and if the process hesitates, and don't answer, it takes a few seconds. I found that explanation here: blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2012/05/02/10299709.aspx Reading the page again, it might be processes only – services has no windows. Have a look at startup tab in msconfig –  Andreas Jansson Jun 18 '13 at 6:31

As this does not happen in Safe mode, and as I myself have never encountered such a slow-down, some product that you have installed must be causing the problem.

I suggest using Autoruns to turn off startup programs in bunches, until you narrow it down to the one that is causing it.

You could also examine your installed products using Revo Uninstaller Freeware and uninstall products that you don't need any more or that you don't like. Google carefully for products that you don't know.

I would also suggest, for the future, to install some security suite. There are lots of free antivirus products, as well as free anti-adware, and not having some of them is just asking for trouble, same as not locking your door at night.

I am not suggesting that your computer is infected, but that is one possibility for such a weird behavior, so full-scans using several well-known antivirus products would still be a good idea. See How to Clean An Infected Computer.

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The reason for this is DDE. I don't know the specific technical details this problem generally boils down to a message queue meltdown.

Some applications are not expecting/able to handle DDE messages on an interrupt basis and so when something they ask for arrives or something is broadcasted to them they don't provide an instant response because they are not waiting on the queue. Things get backed up and everything with a dependency on DDE takes forever. In extreme cases even in command windows sometimes you can see letters you type will be lagged for the same reason.

The only way I know to avoid this problem is to avoid running certain applications over time and by trial and error you will notice when running cause delay. There might be a way to tweak things such as changing timeouts or isolation of DDE broadcast domains or tools to look into DDE but I am clueless on this topic.

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I am having this problem now with Windows 10 (it was fine with windows 8.1): it takes exactly 2 seconds between pressing any of my keyboard shortcuts and actually having the shortcut executed. After looking thru this thread I started killing processes and found that if I stop "speech runtime executable" my keyboard shortcuts execute instantly. The process starts backup again unless you disable Cortana entirely (which is a shame) -- you would think that everything being Microsoft it would work nicely with each other, but I have seen posts saying the same process causes other applications to start slow (see this link)... haven't found any actual solution yet... any pointers would be appreciated.

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