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Top Keyboard Shortcut Apps & Tools to Enhance Productivity

Top Keyboard Shortcut Apps for 2024

Small actions have a big impact over time. Did you know that keyboard shortcuts, for example, could save you hours over the course of a year? The education platform Brainscape estimates that using a combination of essential shortcuts on PC/Mac, Gmail, and your web browser can help you save eight entire workdays.

Keyboard shortcut apps take these time-saving benefits even further. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the tools available for Mac and Windows. We’ll also cover: 

What is a keyboard shortcut?

A keyboard shortcut is a key (or key combination) you use to issue a command on the computer, such as Ctrl + T or Cmd + T to open a browser tab. Some keyboard shortcuts are universal, which means they work across multiple applications. You can also create your own keyboard shortcuts for different apps.

Anyone who uses Ctrl C + Ctrl V knows that using keyboard shortcuts has definite advantages. With keyboard shortcuts, you can issue commands with just one action (as opposed to having to click several times), all without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. 

This saves you time in the long run: Brainscape estimates that you lose an average of 2 seconds per minute of work by switching back and forth from your mouse to perform tasks; using keyboard shortcuts saves you several minutes each day that add up to full workdays in the long run.

But using keyboard shortcuts isn’t just about doing things faster; it’s also about doing them more conveniently. For most people, it makes performing all sorts of computer tasks easier — from opening a new browser tab, printing, and starting a bulleted point list to adding a character in a language other than the one their keyboard is configured in. For those without a mouse, using keyboard shortcuts also minimizes the discomfort of using the trackpad exclusively.

What is a hotkey?

A hotkey, also known as a shortcut key, is a specific combination of one or more keys on a computer keyboard that, when pressed simultaneously, performs a predefined function or command within an operating system or software application. Hotkeys are designed to provide quick access to commonly used functions without navigating through menus or multiple mouse clicks. Common examples include “Ctrl+C” to copy, “Ctrl+V” to paste, and “Alt+Tab” to switch between open applications in many operating systems. Hotkeys can greatly enhance productivity by allowing you to perform tasks more efficiently.

Keyboard shortcut software

In the sections below, we’ll discuss keyboard shortcut software. Note that downloading software isn’t a requirement for using keyboard shortcuts; shortcuts are built into systems and apps (see Mac keyboard shortcuts, Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard shortcuts for Google Docs, and Chrome keyboard shortcuts).

Once you’ve mastered the essential keyboard shortcuts (see “What are the 20 shortcuts?”) you might want to explore productivity apps that help you do even more with your keyboard. Keyboard shortcut applications work more or less the same way as keyboard shortcuts: through triggers and actions.

Top keyboard shortcut apps for Mac

The top keyboard shortcut apps for Mac include BetterTouchTool and TextExpander.


BetterTouchTool (BTT) lets you set up custom hotkeys for specific actions — for example, fn as a shortcut for reducing screen brightness and the key sequence T-H-X for triggering “Thank you!” as a text replacement. 

The app has multiple other features. One of the things you can use it for is to turn trackpad gestures into actions — for example, a one-finger tap in the center of your trackpad for toggling full-screen mode. 

You can also use BTT for key remapping (changing what a key does) and window management (maximizing, scaling to different sizes, setting up split views, etc.).

The app, which costs around $7, seems more suitable for those who are tech-savvy.


If you want to unlock the full potential of text expansion, look no further than TextExpander. Text replacement isn’t a feature in TextExpander. It’s the entire app. 

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A keyboard shortcut tool designed to help you communicate faster and better, TextExpander allows you to assign keyboard shortcuts to text fragments of any length — from a single word to several paragraphs’ worth of text.

And not just plain text. You can save formatted text with images and links. You can even create templates with fill-in-the-blank spaces and drop-down menus with multiple choices of text.

Less a container of saved replies than a knowledge repository, TextExpander enables you to use text fragments to compose thoughtful, detailed messages in seconds. 

Best of all, it’s a great knowledge-sharing tool for teams, complete with sharing permissions. The best teams in the world use it to instantly access company knowledge and write at record speed.

See how TextExpander works

Thank you for your email! I’m happy to look into this for you.

I’m happy to walk you through our active-user-based billing system. TextExpander works on pre-purchased credits, where 1 user needs 1 credit a month, or 12 credits per year. We only deduct credits for users that expand a Snippet within a billing period.

There are two payment plans available:

  • Annual Payment: You purchase 12 months’ worth of credits per user on your billing date at a 20% discount.
  • Monthly Payment: You pay for one credit per user at the beginning of each month

Once you use up your credits, you are charged again at the start of the next billing period, either for another year on the annual plan or for the next month on the monthly plan. There are also additional billing resources at this link.

Does this clarify?

Thanks for reaching out to TextExpander. I’ve escalated your request to our tier 2 support team, who should get back to you shortly with a solution.

We value the positive feedback you provided about your customer experience! If you have a moment, we’d greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to share your experience on social media. Our handles are below for your convenience.

Have a wonderful day!

Thanks so much for reaching out and I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble. I’ve included a link here that should explain the proper way to troubleshoot this issue. Can you please follow the steps and let us know if the problem has been resolved?

Customer support professionals, teachers, healthcare professionals, copywriters, and developers also use TextExpander to increase their productivity. TextExpander can save these users up to 30 hours a month. 

TextExpander has plans for individuals (for $3.33 a month), small teams (starting at $8.33 per user per month), growing teams of up to 50 users (starting at $10.83 per user per month), and enterprises, and is available on Mac, iOS, and iPad.

Top keyboard shortcut apps for Windows

The top keyboard shortcut apps for Windows are AutoHotkey and TextExpander.


AutoHotkey is a free and open-source keyboard shortcut application for Windows. You can use it to remap keys and automate desktop tasks.

Want to turn Caps Lock into Shift? Or Ctrl + Alt + Shift into F3? AutoHotkey’s got you covered. 

Want to launch the Calculator without having to find it and click to open it? Or Google search for something you’ve copied to your Windows clipboard? You can also do that with AutoHotkey.

(Advanced users can do even more. As data and analytics expert Sharon Machlis notes in her review of the app, AutoHotkey has “a pretty complete scripting language, including support for variables, loops, regular expressions, and file access, and it sports a bunch of user interface commands — everything from sending mouse clicks to creating menus and manipulating windows.”)

Using the app requires basic scripting. AutoHotkey has lots of documentation to help, including a guide to getting started and lists of Keys (useful for key remapping) and Commands. There’s also an active Autohotkey community where users can ask questions and exchange tips.

Although knowing how to code isn’t a requirement for using the app, most AutoHotkey users know, or at least are interested in, programming. 


Previously only available for MacOS, TextExpander for Windows came out in 2017 by popular demand. 

A keyboard shortcut application that centers around text replacement, TextExpander helps the tech-averse and the tech-savvy alike leverage the power of shortcuts for writing faster. 

As mentioned above, TextExpander is used by customer support professionals, teachers, healthcare professionals, copywriters, and developers to eliminate repetitive typing.

Key features include the ability to store and share knowledge content and expand text fragments of any length (including formatted text). TextExpander can also be used for autocorrection.

TextExpander has plans for individuals (for $3.33 a month), small teams (starting at $8.33 per user per month), growing teams of up to 50 users (starting at $10.83 per user per month), and enterprises, and is available on Mac, iOS, and iPad.

How to start using keyboard shortcuts 

Now that you have an overview of keyboard shortcuts and keyboard shortcut apps, here’s how to start using them.

Keyboard shortcuts

Discover the keyboard shortcuts for your operating system (here are the full lists for Windows and Mac) and your favorite apps and choose a few to start practicing. You can typically find shortcuts in Help sections and menus. 

To learn and memorize shortcuts, try apps that show you a full list of hotkeys for any software you’re using — Cheatsheet (for Mac) and Application Shortcut Mapper (web) are two popular choices.

To turn memorizing shortcuts into a game, try ShortcutFoo, which uses “dojo programs”, online flashcards, and tests tohelp you achieve keyboard shortcut mastery.

Keyboard shortcuts in TextExpander

In addition to assigning keyboard shortcuts to text fragments in TextExpander, you can use keyboard shortcuts to perform tasks such as opening and enabling/disabling the app, creating new Snippets, editing the last expanded Snippet, inline searching, and more. You can find instructions for setting up or changing a TextExpander hotkey here.


How do I open an app using keyboard shortcuts?

To open an app using a keyboard shortcut, you need to create a keyboard shortcut for this purpose. To create a keyboard shortcut on Windows, check that the application is pinned to the taskbar first. If it isn’t:

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Find and select the app.
  3. Select “More” and “Add to taskbar.”

Once the app is in the taskbar, follow these steps to create a shortcut for it:

  1. Right-click the app icon.
  2. Right-click the name of the app.
  3. Left-click Properties.
  4. In the box that says shortcut or hotkey, type the shortcut you will use to open the app. The shortcut must start with Ctrl + Alt/Shift + a letter, number, or punctuation mark.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Click OK.

What are the 20 shortcuts?

The 20 keyboard shortcuts for Windows are

  1. Ctrl + Z (Undo)
  2. Ctrl + W (Close)
  3. Ctrl + A (Select all)
  4. Alt + Tab (Switch apps)
  5. Alt + F4 (Close apps)
  6. Win + D (show or hide desktop)
  7. Win + left/right arrow (Snap windows)
  8. Win + Tab (Open the Task view)
  9. Tab and Shift + Tab (Move backward and forward through options)
  10. Ctrl + Esc (Open the Start menu)
  11. F2 (Rename)
  12. F5 (Refresh)
  13. Win + L (Lock your computer)
  14. Win + I (Open Settings)
  15. Win + S (Search Windows)
  16. Win +PrtScn (Save a screenshot)
  17. Ctrl + Shift + Esc (Open the Task Manager)
  18. Win + C (Start talking to Cortana)
  19. Win + Ctrl + D (Add a new virtual desktop)
  20. Wix + X (Open the hidden menu).

To learn more about each one, check out the article “20 essential Windows keyboard shortcuts…”, linked below.

What are some fun keyboard shortcuts?

Some fun keyboard shortcuts on Windows are Ctrl + Home, Ctrl + End; Ctrl + F, Ctrl + D, Ctrl + A, Ctrl + H. 

  • Ctrl + Home takes you to the start of a document; Ctrl + End takes you to the end.
  • Ctrl + F opens a search box for locating a word within a page or document.
  • Ctrl + D saves a page to your Bookmarks. 
  • Ctrl + A Selects All.
  • Ctrl + H shows your browsing History. 

Helpful resources

Want to learn more about keyboard shortcuts and how to start using them? Check out the essential articles below.