Which Hotkeys Are You Using to Open Applications?

I'm wondering what key to set as the application open hotkey. I know it's personal preference, but curios if there are any recommended hotkeys or how most people or KM developers set them up.

You're going to get loads of different answers... but I use Control as the modifier and the first letter of the App name. Control is one of the least used modifiers so it is relatively free.

โŒƒP for Photoshop for instance.

I also use โŒƒP for the Photos App and rely on Keyboard Maestro's conflict Palette to pop up so I can just click on which App I want to open.


I use Function Keys for my most used apps.

Keyboard Shortcut Application
F12 Script Debugger
โŒ˜โŒฅF12 Script Editor
F11 BBEdit
โŒ˜โŒฅF11 Visual Studio Code
F10 Google Chrome
F9 Mail
F8 Terminal

** These are all easy reaches for my right hand, and I have years of built-up muscle memory.

There are a few more sprinkled around but by and large I use LaunchBar for everything else.

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A slightly different idea to launch apps with a hotkey is using a palette and the K-Keys.
(This only works with a Macbook without Touchbar).

Create a horizontal palette like this (transparent or not)

Then replace "F1", "F2" with the icon of an app (or text) and position the palette directly above the F-Keys of your keyboard.

Now you have to tell KM which F-Key launches which app and you have a small stream deck ... a very small one. :smiley: :joy:


I'm still trying to get my head around people opening apps frequently enough that they use hotkeys! Am I the only person here who just leaves apps running until the next restart?

Except Chrome, which is rarely opened and then gets killed ASAP. Ah, perhaps that explains things...

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Open or switch to the already open app. How do you do that?

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โŒ˜โ‡ฅ to switch. On the rare occasion I need to open an app, โŒ˜-Space and tappy-tap-type the app's name -- which, of course, also works to switch to the app if already open.

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Ok, sure, but it's not the most direct way. :slightly_smiling_face:

A shortcut leads directly to the wanted app. โŒ˜1, โŒ˜2, โŒ˜3 and so on lead directly to my five most used apps. But such things are a matter of opinion :wink:

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That's probably the difference -- I'd never remember enough hotkeys for my "most used" apps!

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You're scaring me. :cold_face: How many "most used" apps do you have?

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On the laptop right now so:

tell application "System Events"
	count of (every application process whose background only is false)
end tell

...all but one of which has been used in the last hour.

Remoting into the work iMac and doing the same -- 47. All have been used this afternoon. And that doesn't count "infrequently" used apps in VMs and remote desktop sessions.

You do not want know how many windows are open...

TBH, this is a bad habit which I should take another look at. What was a good idea with spinning rust and long launch times isn't so smart with SSDs, and I'm wondering about VM's impact on SSD life after reading this page on the marvellous Eclectic Light blog.

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I use โ‡งโŒƒโŒ˜ and the first letter of the app name for my most frequently used apps. For everything else I use โ‡งโŒ˜O which triggers a conflict palette, allowing me to type in the first letter or two of the app name.

Conflict Palette Screenshot (click to expand/collapse)

For all apps, I use this action to either activate/recall or hide if at front.

Action Screenshot (click to expand/collapse)

For a few select apps, I may do something different, like the following:

Action Screenshot (click to expand/collapse)


I use Karabiner-Elements to change the caps lock key to act as cmd + ctrl + option + shift. I then use the caps lock key and the first letter of an often used application or website to open it.

Most folders, applications and websites I open with LaunchBar however, which is almost equally fast and requires no macros.


I use Alfred for apps, files and anything else I want to find or open in real time. There's a great workflow for bringing up recently accessed files/folders too. I use that a lot.




I do use โŒ˜โ‡ฅ quite often to switch between the last two apps I'm working in, although I have a macro for that as well:


When I'm running a whole lot of apps I can drop into LaunchBar's app-switcher to easily visualize and pick between them:


Unfortunately my old MacBook Air only has 8GB of memory, and I've got to be careful to not keep too many apps open.

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It's the usual for me -- working on a dozen-plus different machines a day, many of them other people's, means I avoid many of the "quality of life" macros, utilities, and tweaks suggested here. It's bad enough having to deal with weird full-screen and Spaces setups, across multiple OS/app versions and often with everything in a language I don't even recognise -- more customisations that I then have to avoid using would be too much!


I used to carry a portable hard drive with all sorts of good stuff on it that I could employ on other people's systems, but I haven't done that sort of work for quite a while.

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I used to carry my Eudora and Newsreader(?) folders around on a floppy disk so I could check mail and usenet from whatever machine I was sat at -- now that was quite a while ago!


I use BetterTouchTool to activate the KM Application Switcher. I can also use the cmd-esc to perform the same thing. I try to keep my hotkeys at a bare minimum these days.

Here is the setup.

You can use arrows or numbers to select the app. The KM application switcher is so powerful.



First of all I rely on KeyCue to help me find available combo's, and then I use keys that will either be close so few fingers can hit them.

Or most often left hand takes two (from the 4 keys on the lower left side of spacebar) and then last key will be somewhere to the right, on my full Satechi keyboard, or from the top row (F-keys).

(I use mouse in left hand)


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