Most average computer users like to use the mouse for performing the majority of tasks in Windows. It makes sense too because Windows is foremost a point and click interface. But more advanced users, professionals and geeks prefer to use the keyboard for many tasks because Windows has dozens of keyboard shortcuts. Therefore with just a few key presses you can do something which might take several mouse clicks and lots of movement around the screen.
If you send tons of emails or write lots of documents and endlessly type in the same text time after time, it makes sense to setup a keyboard shortcut to help you out. With a configured custom hotkey you can insert a block of commonly used text or run a program which doesn’t already have an assigned shortcut. That could be a big time saver and reduce mouse actions or repeated typing by a sizable amount.
If you are simply looking for an automatic text replacement tool, there are many dedicated programs available, such as PhraseExpress. If you’re looking to insert text, run programs or perform tasks from a custom hotkey, we have 5 free tools for you to try out.1. QuickTextPaste
QuickTextPaste is from SoftwareOK, the same developer as the well known Q-Dir quad pane file manager. The program is also only 100KB in size and a single portable executable with settings stored in an INI file inside the same folder. QuickTextPaste is updated at reasonable intervals so any bugs or issues are likely to be fixed.
On the face of it QuickTextPaste looks quite simple with just a textbox for entering text to be pasted with the hotkey. There is more to it though, and you can also run programs, open web pages, paste images from the clipboard and also paste clipboard data as html. Inserting plain text has a number of extra variables such as date and time. If you are going to use date and time variables they need to be manually enabled from Options > Formats.
First set the hotkey to use, the available qualifier keys are limited to left or right Win, Ctrl+Alt or Alt-Gr. Enter the text or command in the box and press Add. QuickTextPaste allows for a multiple command menu which pops up if you assign the same shortcut to more than one command, the Menu-Text box is to name the menu item. Sadly there’s no help guide for the more advanced options, the online FAQ should just about be enough to get you going. QuickTextPaste is quite light on resources using around 2MB of memory while in the tray.
Clavier (French for keyboard) is not loaded with tons of features but probably has enough functionality to satisfy all but the most advanced users. The program is open source, is kept relatively up to date and has both setup installer and portable versions available.
The main hotkey functions available in Clavier+ are launching programs and favorite URLs, opening folders and inserting text. It can also write special characters, simulate keystrokes and emulate mouse movements or buttons. Some of the special commands will require you to have a quick read of the help file. A few examples are included but adding your own hotkey action is simple enough as most of the settings are handled from the single window.
Click the Add button and select the action to perform from the drop down list, then choose a hotkey combination (Clavier+ can distinguish between left and right special keys). The lower half of the window will then ungrey the with text box on the left and URLs, programs or folder settings on the right. The drop down arrow next to the text box opens up the more advanced commands that can be added. There’s also an include/exclude option at the bottom so you can choose specific programs the hotkeys will or will not affect. Clavier+ used about 7MB of memory during testing.
CopyTexty is a free tool to use although it installs as the basic version with a maximum of 5 hotkey commands allowed. A free registration key can be requested from the website to unlock this limit but it was a bit hit and miss whether one arrived in our inbox during testing. The key lasts for 6 months at which point you will need to request another one.
In contrast to other similar tools, CopyTexty only allows you to insert blocks of text with a hotkey combination, no other commands or functions are available. While not feature rich it does make the program easy to use. To setup a Texty click the Add button, give the action a title and choose which qualifier keys of Shift, Alt and Ctrl to use, then select the alphanumeric character as the hotkey.
Finally enter all the text to assign to the hotkey in the lower box and press the Save button. The text will be pasted into the program when you press the key combination. To simply copy the text to the clipboard without pasting it into a program double click on its entry in the main CopyTexty window. The program uses around 9MB of memory while sitting in the tray.
There’s potentially a lot to like about HotKeyP, it’s portable and open source, light on resources, is still in active development and has a lot of interesting functions you can assign to a hotkey. The only real downside is many of the hotkey functions will need you to consult the help file to understand how they work and the arguments to use. Thankfully the help text is thorough without being over complicated.
In addition to the standard function of inserting text with the hotkey, the number of other interesting functions is quite impressive. For instance it can show a drive free space meter, kill processes, remove USB drives, start/stop services, perform media and volume controls, manipulate open windows, turn monitor off/screensaver, show shutdown options, simulate mouse actions, run macros and even perform actions with a joystick.
To add a new hotkey click Add and enter the hotkey at the top THEN check the required qualifier boxes of Ctrl, Shift, Alt or Win. Click the left arrow at Command to bring up the included functions and select what you want from the list. The explanation of the command and optional parameters can be viewed if you press Help. For example, the paste text help will list the special sequences such as %| for a multiple command menu, %r for new line or %c to insert date and time.
The other options on the page like adding a working directory, sound or an option to the tray context menu are optional. Run as administrator is useful if the command needs full administrator privileges. Text, audio volume and disk free space display colors can be edited in Options, as can the mouse and joystick settings. HotkeyP only used a couple of Megabytes of memory in the background.
The HotKeyBind program is actually very old dating back to 2004, but apart from a couple of minor command issues it works without too much problem. It’s similar to HotKeyP in many ways and offers a number other command functions in addition the standard inserting text. Both setup installer and portable versions are available.
During first run HotKeyBind will ask to setup some example hotkeys. Do note that if you do that it will conflict with existing Windows shortcut keys. The examples for volume up/down, mute and turn off Windows will need deleting or the hotkeys editing to something else to remove the error. The included actions range from inserting text or searching the web via different search engines to launching a command or folder, emulating mouse actions or showing shutdown options.
After adding a new hotkey and selecting the action from the list, you will be asked to select the qualifier keys and main hotkey. The main window gives a clear view what you have chosen for the hotkey. We found the volume functions didn’t work for us in Windows 7 or 10 and the enabling or disabling Windows hotkeys tab might have unforeseen consequences, so is best left alone. The default on screen display can be turned off from the Other tab. HotKeyBind takes up around 4MB of memory.