How To Assign Keyboard Shortcuts For OS X Apps

As much as the trackpad is powerful on Mac, I still prefer not to leave the keyboard if I can. For that reason, I want to assign keyboard shortcuts to the rare few apps that deserve it. Imagine my surprise when I realized it’s not a straight forward action in OS X!

In this post I describe how to assign arbitrary keyboard shortcuts to launch OS X apps, without any third-party software or AppleScript. The solution is based on creating an Automator Service workflow to launch the desired app, and assigning a keyboard shortcut to that service.

I imagine there are simpler solutions that take advantage of some third party automation software or AppleScript. Feel free to let me know about your preferred solution, even if it involves such demons.

I am aware that I can use Spotlight to launch any application by typing the first letters of its name. Indeed, this is how I launch 99% of apps. There are very few cases where it makes sense to bypass Spotlight with a shorter key-combo – and this post is for these cases.

This is part of my Mac Power User Training series. Follow it to see how I try to go from Mac novice to a pro.

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Launching the Command Prompt from Anywhere with AutoHotKey

When working on my Windows laptop, I often find myself needing to launch a new command prompt. The need usually arises in the active folder in Windows Explorer, or in Total Commander (my favorite file manager on Windows).

This happens pretty often, so I decided to create a keyboard shortcut to automate the process. To do this, I used AutoHotKey – the awesome Windows automation tool.

Properties and features of the AHK script I came up with:

  • Invoked with a keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T (so it’s consistent with launching the terminal in Linux).
  • If in Windows Explorer – start the command prompt in the current directory.
  • If in Total Commander – start the command prompt in the current directory of the active pane.
  • Otherwise, use a default directory (e.g., the home directory).

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