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ActiveWords is a Windows utility which allows the user to assign custom, system-wide shortcuts to any application, folder, file or URL.

The shortcuts (or "ActiveWords") work from anywhere in Windows, making them much more powerful than Windows' own keystroke commands.

Shortcuts are triggered by hitting a user-definable hotkey after typing them. The default is F8. Typing "43f" then hitting F8, for example, opens my default browser and takes me straight to

My other favourite ActiveWords at home include:

  • o - open Outlook
  • x - open Excel
  • w - open Word
  • ftp - open SmartFTP
  • v - open my videos directory
  • dl - open my downloads directory
  • c - open my C:\
  • gtd - open my GTD list file in Notepad
  • rb - reboot

At work, where my time is split between various projects (all of which have three or four-letter acronyms), I have made an ActiveWord for each project which opens that project's root folder instantly. It saves an unbelievable amount of time.

It's very straightforward and quick to add more ActiveWords; indeed, the program can be instructed to monitor your actions and suggest new ActiveWords automatically for heavily used URLs, folders, programs etc.

Finally, the program has a plugin-friendly architecture, and there are several useful plugins for various applications and function areas. It's a very worthwhile item to investigate; the benefits should be obvious and compelling within ten minutes.

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