I have created a Windows shortcut for launching Notepad, and I have added the shortcut key Ctrl+Alt+N. As a result, when I press Ctrl+Alt+N, Notepad starts up.
Now I'm working more and more with files, coming from UNIX machines, which Notepad does not display very well, so I would like to modify the behavior of the shortcut key into starting Notepad++.

This is very easy: just go to the Notepad shortcut, remove the shortcut key, create a new shortcut for Notepad++ and fill in the Ctrl+Alt+N key in there.

For your information, I have already tried creating a new shortcut (to Notepad++) and press Ctrl+Alt+N as the shortcut key, but when I do this, Notepad is started up :-)

The main question however is: I don't know where I have stored that shortcut. Does anybody know how to find a shortcut in Windows, based on the shortcut key?

  • 1
    Shortcuts have an extension of lnk. Have you tried a Windows search for notepad.lnk?
    – CharlieRB
    Apr 12, 2016 at 13:05
  • "ShortcutsMan" utility from Nirsoft will list all the shortcuts (with or without hotkeys) from desktop or Start menu (both per-user and Common locations)
    – w32sh
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:42
  • The situation gets stranger everyday: I have indeed found the shortcut "notepad.lnk", it was in the same directory as "Notepad.exe" (C:\Windows), but now the strange part: I have removed that shortcut, I have restarted my PC, but still Notepad gets launched when I press Ctrl+Alt+N. I believe this information is stored in the registry. Does anybody know where?
    – Dominique
    Apr 14, 2016 at 7:42
  • Hi Dominique, Give ShortcutsMan a go, that lists every hotkey registered.
    – w32sh
    Apr 15, 2016 at 7:51

3 Answers 3


Based on the existing answer, this information about Pinned items, and this question about managing shortcut files with PowerShell, I put together this PowerShell snippet:

$sh = New-Object -ComObject WScript.Shell
ls -Path `
    $Env:APPDATA\Microsoft\Windows\"Start Menu",
    $Env:ALLUSERSPROFILE\Microsoft\Windows\"Start Menu",
    $Env:APPDATA\Microsoft\"Internet Explorer"\"Quick Launch" `
    -Recurse -Force -Include *.lnk,*.url,*.pif |
    Foreach-Object { 
        $link = $sh.CreateShortcut($_.FullName);
        if ( $link.Hotkey ) { echo $link } 

It searches for shortcuts in all the directories Windows will scan, and displays any with a non-empty "Hotkey" property. The last if and echo could easily be tweaked to find or display something more specific if you have lots of hotkeys assigned.

  • This snippet doesn't run. What PS version is this for?
    – mostlydev
    Dec 29, 2021 at 22:35
  • 1
    @mostlydev It looks like I needed to add some explicit line continuations where I'd broken it onto multiple lines for readability. No idea if that was different in previous versions, but I've edited to a version which works for me in PowerShell 5.1
    – IMSoP
    Dec 30, 2021 at 13:31

There are only a few possible locations for that shortcut:

  • the desktop (%USERPROFILE%\Desktop, %PUBLIC%\Desktop)
  • the start menu (%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu, %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu)
  • the quick launch bar

(all user and system wide, of course)

Hotkeys will work only from these locations, so it shouldn't be too onerous to find the Notepad shortcut, provided it's named appropriately :)

Alternatively, pressing WIN, then typing notepad should list all shortcuts to notepad, certainly the ones windows will consider when searching for a hotkey.

  • Thanks for your response, Ths, but as mentioned in my comment above, I have found the shortcut in C:\Windows directory, so your list of possible locations seems not to be exhaustive.
    – Dominique
    Apr 14, 2016 at 7:43
  • but your comment also seems to indicate that that shortcut wasn't responsible for the hotkey handling.... (also see support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/134552)
    – ths
    Apr 14, 2016 at 7:50
  • I have created only one shortcut for this, so I assume that while adding the hotkey, an entry has been made in the registry, but while removing the shortcut, the mentioned registry key has not been deleted.
    – Dominique
    Apr 14, 2016 at 9:02
  • Shortcuts in Windows folder aren't taken into consideration when you press the hotkey. The above is the full list of locations that the shell queries for hotkeys, from .lnk, as well as .url and .pif files.
    – w32sh
    Apr 15, 2016 at 8:08

I use a nifty third-party called "Clavier+" that will let you customize your keyboard shortcuts to your heart's content.

Couldn't live without it, to be honest.

EDIT: by default, the keyboard shortcut to open notepad.exe is "Win-N" (the Windows key and the n key).

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