I have set up my gaming PC so that when I log into a certain user account, a script kills explorer.exe and opens Steam in Big Picture mode, then it waits until the process ends, and logs me out. This way, with just a click on PC startup, I can launch Steam and then use my gamepad. Basically like a super-charged gaming console!
All works great, except for modifying the volume. My keyboard has three volume buttons (Plus, minus, mute) which work perfectly in a normal session where explorer.exe is running, but totally refuse to respond while Windows Explorer is terminated. This is annoying, because if I'd left for some reason the volume turned down in my normal desktop session, I'll have to open Task Manager, run explorer.exe, edit volume, terminate it. How can I enable volume editing via keyboard keys when explorer.exe is terminated?
Also just keeping Windows Explorer running is not an option as:
it eats resources
it is annoying if I accidentally press the Start button
some games don't work well when it is open.