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Author Topic: New program: Ethervane ActiveHotkeys (freeware)  (Read 105368 times)
tranglos
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« on: May 05, 2009, 11:38:34 AM »

On several occasions there have been requests for a program that displays what global keyboard shortcuts are registered by various applications. ActiveHotkeys does just that: it will show a list of all active (registered) or inactive (available) global hotkeys.

New (February 2012): ActiveHotkeys is now hosted on my site at tranglos.com. This thread is still good for support and new version info, I'm not going anywhere :-)

A standard installer and a portable version are now available. Latest version direct download:



Please note that Windows does not allow for detecting which application has registered a particular shortcut, so that feaure is not included. (If you think you know how to achieve that, using message hooks or what-not, please post here or earn some karma at StackOverflow)


Main screen:



(Yes, I've used the dreaded listview. It's almost OK for this purpose, though not quite. The upside is you can sort the listing by clicking the column headers.)


Remember to right-click everywhere:






Happy shortcutting!

* activehotkeys10.zip (509.95 KB - downloaded 14439 times.)
* activehotkeys-1.10.zip (512.68 KB - downloaded 14813 times.)
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 12:33:31 PM by tranglos » Logged

tranglos
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 11:40:49 AM »

So that it's easy to find, here's the contents of the (original) readme file. Please let me know if you need more info or anything isn't quite clear.

Ethervane ActiveHotkeys
Requirements: Windows 95 / 98 / ME / 2000 / XP / Vista or later
License: Freeware.

--- description ---

ActiveHotkeys detects what global keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys) are currently registered on the computer by various applications. This helps you determine which hotkeys are in use, and which are still available.

See the "History" section for what's new in this release.

--- installation ---

No need to install. Just unpack the executable (activehotkeys.exe) to any directory. You can create a Start menu shortcut for the program manually.

The program does not store any data in the registry. Configuration is saved in the following folder (Windows XP):
c:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Ethervane\ActiveHotkeys\

--- features ---

Supports all possible combinations of Alt, Ctrl, Shift and Win keys with regular typewriter keys.

Results can be sorted and filtered to show all possible hotkeys or only currently active hotkeys (those registered by various applications in the system).

Program displays total counts of existing, inactive and currently active hotkeys.

Results can be copied to clipboard or saved to file. Results are copied and saved as tab-delimited format, which can be imported into a spreadsheet.

Settings are saved between sessions.

--- usage ---

1. At the top-left of the screen, under "Select modifier keys", select checkboxes for the modifier keys or chords which you want to test. For example, if you are only interested in shortcuts including the Windows key, select Win, Alt+Win, Ctrl+Win and Shift+Win.

You can right-click this area for additional handy commands. There are commands to select all modifier key combinations, clear all selections, as well as to select all the single key modifiers or 2-, 3- and 4-key chords.

2. Below the top area, under "Select normal key groups", select checkboxes for the key groups you want to test. For example, you may want to test only the alphabetic keys, only numbers, or a combination of the available groups. These selections allow you to limit the number of results, so that finding a particular key is easier.

Right-click this area for additional commands to select all key groups or clear all selections.

Hint: Click the "Key groups" tab to find out what keys are included in each group.

3. Click the "Test active hotkeys" button at the bottom of the screen, or press F9. Results will be displayed in the main pane.

Right-click the listing of results for additional commands:

- Select all results
- Copy selected results to clipboard
- Save selected results to file
- Toggle between showing all results, or only the active (currently registered) hotkeys.

--- limitations ---

Windows does not provide information about what program registered a particular global hotkey. Therefore this information is not available through ActiveHotkeys either.

--- download ---

Currently the program is only available via DonationCoder website: www.donationcoder.com

--- support ---

Email the author at marek@tranglos.com if you encounter a problem.

--- distribution ---

The program is free to download and use. Written permission from the author is required to bundle, repackage or redistribute the program.

--- history ---

Version 1.1.0: 2009-05-09

- Added support for multimedia and browser keys that some keyboards have. Typically, these keys will be shown as inactive, even though they "work". That is because the operating system does not register these keys as hotkeys with itself. However, some applications (e.g. Winamp), can register these keys, and then you'll see them listed as active.

- The "Show only active keys" option has been replaced with a three-way toggle: Show all, Show only active keys, and Show only inactive keys. The F5 key now cycles through these three options.

- Added an option to display gridlines in the hotkey view (Ctrl+G).

- Added support for the following two command-line switches:
  /localconfig : AH will write its configuration files in the directory where it is installed.
  /nowriteconfig : AH will read its configuration files normally, but will not write back any changes.

- fixed a bug where AH displayed an error message if the "Test active hotkeys" button was clicked while the Key groups or About tab was visible.

- Small cosmetic changes.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 12:44:31 PM by tranglos » Logged

tomos
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2009, 02:02:32 PM »

Thanks Tranglos!
It's really nice to be able to see which keys are available - very convenient for planning hotkeys thumbs up

No idea who's using a lot of those keys undecided afraid to try them out, god knows what would happen ... smiley
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Tom
tranglos
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2009, 02:16:40 PM »

Thanks Tranglos!
No idea who's using a lot of those keys undecided afraid to try them out, god knows what would happen ... smiley

That was my thought too when I first ran the program! I found some long-forgotten hotkeys that reside in my AutoHotkey scripts, but also a bunch of shortcuts I don't recall ever having defined.
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kartal
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 02:40:12 PM »

Hi

I do not think it is working properly under xp64, I am getting very veyr mixed results?
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tranglos
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 02:54:43 PM »

Unfortunately I can't test under x64; no-one I know round here uses a 64-bit system. Can you describe what happens?
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TucknDar
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 04:04:23 PM »

Great work! Very useful tool!
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mouser
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2009, 06:50:46 PM »

Great stuff!!! Thank you for sharing with us  thumbs up
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superboyac
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 07:04:59 PM »

what's going on, Marek?!  You're unleashing programs on us like rain!  Awesome!  How long has this been in the works?
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DonationCoderTransmit
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 02:02:44 AM »

Sweet, thanks.

Quote
--- limitations ---
Windows does not provide information about what program registered a particular global hotkey. Therefore this information is not available through ActiveHotkeys either.

You might add a button to start a scan for such programs? If that's too far off-piste, then this is a handy companion tool :-

http://www.zealsoftstudio.com/shortcuts/

Quote
Shortcuts Map
Version 2.3 Release Date: April 8, 2004
Platform: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003
Shortcuts Map will help you to manage hotkeys assigned to Windows shortcuts on the desktop or in the Start menu hierarchy. With the straightforward user interface, you can easily to change a hotkey or find an unused hotkey.

http://www.zealsoftstudio...com/shortcuts/shtsnap.gif

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rjbull
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 05:28:40 AM »

Up to now I've used ShortcutsMan by Nir Sofer.  It will be interesting to compare tranglos' program.
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TheQwerty
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 06:09:16 AM »

Nice! Thmbsup

It's speedy and the presentation (even the list view) looks good.

A couple of comments/suggestions:

1) Consider renaming the Active Hotkeys tab or having separate tabs for Active and Inactive hotkeys.  I was a bit confused when seeing inactive hotkeys listed on the active hotkeys tab until I found the Show Active Only option.

2) While selecting the modifiers and key groups before scanning allows you to scan for less shortcuts, checking everything didn't seem to take that long.  It might be more useful if you just scanned for everything and then allowed the user to filter the results based on selected modifiers and key groups.

2a) Extending that a bit it would be nice if the user could filter it even further by somehow entering keys.  Say I wanted all shortcuts that use F1, I could sort the list, but I think a filter would be better.

3) While you cannot determine the program associated with the hotkey, you could allow the some user entered data.  In particular, if you allowed the user to group hotkeys, enter the program they are associated with, and maybe a small note of what they did, it would become so much more useful.  Obviously, it would fall on the user to ensure this data is updated and accurate.  Granted, you'd probably have to replace the list view to do this cleanly, but with such a feature it would turn the program into something I might even consider purchasing for a small fee.


Keep up the good work!
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tomos
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2009, 07:44:54 AM »

2) While selecting the modifiers and key groups before scanning allows you to scan for less shortcuts, checking everything didn't seem to take that long.  It might be more useful if you just scanned for everything and then allowed the user to filter the results based on selected modifiers and key groups.

in the panel on the left it would be good to have an 'All' tick-box as well as the 'None' one
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Tom
tranglos
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2009, 08:00:35 AM »

in the panel on the left it would be good to have an 'All' tick-box as well as the 'None' one

Actually, that's not what "None" means. None doesn't deselect all modifier options. Rather, it means "test all hotkeys whish do not use ANY modifier" - a relatively rare case, but it will come up with the Pause key (registered by FARR) for example. There is another program whose name I forget that uses CapsLock by itself to pop up its window. (Perhaps I should rename that checkbox to "no modifier" instead.)

So, by extension, adding "All" would not mean "all possible combinations of modifiers". It would mean "hotkeys that use all modifier keys", i.e. Alt+Ctrl+Shift+Win - and there is already a checkbox for that.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 09:40:27 AM by tranglos » Logged

tranglos
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 08:03:35 AM »

what's going on, Marek?!  You're unleashing programs on us like rain!  Awesome!  How long has this been in the works?

The hotkey app is very new, took three nights to write just this week, but of course there are all kinds of improvements left out.

The timer I wrote a few months ago, where a client wanted me to report the time spent on particular phases of a project. I was looking specifically for a timer program that would suspend when I stopped using the keyboard, and I couldn't find anything like that.

In both cases it was the perfect motivation - scratch your own itch. That's how Linux came to be, too smiley
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tranglos
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 08:18:39 AM »

Sweet, thanks.
You might add a button to start a scan for such programs?

I'm not sure what you mean. There is nothing to scan for, as there is no standard manner in which programs store information about the hotkeys. It depends on how and where programs keep their configuration data: in the registry, in ini files, in xml files (at various locations). Then there are programs with hard-coded hotkeys, which are not configurable, so not stored anywahere, either.

The shortcut map program you referred to does the only thing that's possible - it scans the shortcuts in the Start menu. I's probably not a very well-known Windows feature, whereby you can assign a hotkey to each .lnk shortcut, so that you can start the program without clicking the link in the Start menu. That's detectable, because the hotkeys are stored inside the shortcut (lnk) files, and I'll see if I can add this to my program.

However, this is only a very narrow use of hotkeys, and it will do nothing about all the applications that register global hotkeys at runtime to perform various functions, e.g. when you press Pause to bring up Find and Run Robot, or PrintScreen to activate a screenshot application, etc.

For those - most common - cases, there is no way to find out which app "owns" a hotkey. I've posted a question at StackOverflow, so if it's possible, someone is likely to reply - but there are no replies so far. In general, it seems impossible to extract the necessary information from Windows; that possibility was simply not built into the system.
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tranglos
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 08:26:42 AM »

Great ideas all, thanks!

1) Consider renaming the Active Hotkeys tab or having separate tabs for Active and Inactive hotkeys.  I was a bit confused when seeing inactive hotkeys listed on the active hotkeys tab until I found the Show Active Only option.

You are right, I'll rename it. I don't want to use separate tabs though. For now you can right-click and check the option to only display the active hotkeys. At the very least I should add the opposite option, to only show inactive ones.

2) While selecting the modifiers and key groups before scanning allows you to scan for less shortcuts, checking everything didn't seem to take that long.  It might be more useful if you just scanned for everything and then allowed the user to filter the results based on selected modifiers and key groups.

The UI for filtering is already there (hidden), but filtering itself isn't implemented yet.

2a) Extending that a bit it would be nice if the user could filter it even further by somehow entering keys.  Say I wanted all shortcuts that use F1, I could sort the list, but I think a filter would be better.

This definitely needs to be a part of the filter, yes.

3) While you cannot determine the program associated with the hotkey, you could allow the some user entered data.  In particular, if you allowed the user to group hotkeys, enter the program they are associated with, and maybe a small note of what they did, it would become so much more useful.  Obviously, it would fall on the user to ensure this data is updated and accurate.  Granted, you'd probably have to replace the list view to do this cleanly, but with such a feature it would turn the program into something I might even consider purchasing for a small fee.

I love this idea, thanks again. Now that I think about it, I can detect the hotkeys defined in lnk shortcuts (see my reply to DonationCoderTransmit above), and can have a built-in map of well-known Windows hotkeys (Win+R, Win+E, etc). THat would be a start. The rest, as you say, could be filled in by users.

Too bad we cannot have a shareable list of such hotkeys, since in most apps thay are configurable, and will be different for everyone. FARR uses Pause, for example, but there is no guarantee that Pause is mapped to FARR on any particular system.
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 08:46:18 AM »

This looks like a handy program!  Thanks tranglos  Thmbsup
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MerleOne
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 09:52:49 AM »

Excellent !  Thanks, I have been looking for this for quite some time...
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 10:26:15 AM »

Very nice.

Can you put the .ini files in the ActiveHotkeys folder?
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tranglos
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2009, 02:48:25 PM »

Very nice.

Can you put the .ini files in the ActiveHotkeys folder?

Yes, I'll add that in the next release.

It's not always a good idea though. Under XP, Vista or later, it will only work if you log in as administrator (in fact, I don't think it will work at all under Vista). In XP programs are prohibited from writing any data under c:\Program files if the current user does not have administrator permissions. Under Vista, as far as I understand, writing data under that directory is completely prohibited (Windows really saves the files elsewhere and only pretends to the user and the programs that the directory is c:\Program files. I forget what this feature is called, but I've read it was giving people trouble).

If you want to store the ini files in the folder where the program is installed, do not install it under the Program Filesas folder.
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2009, 11:18:32 PM »

So yeah i featured your app in my blog, nice program btw.

http://elitefreeware.blog...otkeys-are-active-in.html
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Mouser is made of win and awesome!
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2009, 01:41:23 AM »

also featured now in ghacks and freewaregenius  huh Thmbsup Thmbsup Thmbsup

http://www.ghacks.net/200...l-active-windows-hotkeys/
http://www.freewaregenius...d-hotkeys-on-your-system/
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mouser
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« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2009, 08:59:16 AM »

And now lifehacker:
http://lifehacker.com/524...-which-keys-are-available

Congratulations Tranglos.. you still got it.   thumbs up
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tranglos
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« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2009, 09:23:25 AM »

Congratulations Tranglos.. you still got it.   thumbs up

Thanks, mouser, but it's not just the program - it's the exposure DonationCoder gives! Seems like the major software bloggers are reading DC for picks. It's your work that did that.
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