Windows: Key to Launch or Switch App

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Key to Launch or Switch to App, Best Method

This is the best method. Simplest and fastest.

In Windows 10, drag and drop the app to Taskbar. Then, the apps on taskbar from left to right will have keys ❖ Window+1, ❖ Window+2, etc.

Windows 10 taskbar 2021-05-08
Windows 10 Taskbar

Now, set up a single key to press the keychords.

Programable Keyboards with Onboard Memory

if you have Programable Keyboards with Onboard Memory or Programable Keypad, you can then assign key such as F8 to do ❖ Window+1 etc, so they are single key presses.

Microsoft PowerToys

If you don't have a programable keyboard, the best way is to use Microsoft PowerToys. [see Microsoft PowerToys]

Create Custom Key Shortcut to Launch App

Create a shortcut to the file (by holding Alt key then drag). Then, right click on the file shortcut and choose “Properties”. There, click the Tab named “Shortcut”, then click the “Shortcut key” field then type a key.

Here's a step-by-step instruction:

Go to desktop. Right click and chose New, then Shortcut.

Windows 10 new shortcut 2021-02-20
Windows 10 new shortcut 2021-02-20

Then click on a Shortcut, then right click, or press Alt+Enter to bring up its properties.

Windows 10 context menu 2021-02-20
Windows 10 context menu 2021-02-20

Then, click the Shortcut tab, click the “Shortcut key” field, then just type a key combo to set a hotkey.

Windows 10 app properties 2021-02-20
Windows 10 app properties 2021-02-20

The shortcut must be one of F1, F2 etc, or a key with Ctrl+Alt or Ctrl+Shift .

For some app, this will switch to it if already running (For examples: cmd.exe, Inkscape.), but for some app it'll always launch a new instance.

Using AutoHotkey to Launch/Switch App

AutoHotkey: Switch or Launch App

Windows Keyboard Shortcut Guide