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Helpware: A clueless keyboard program

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 09:06


What a difference a comma makes. If the folks who wrote the code for HotKeyMan had a sense of humor, not to mention some common sense, they would have called their program HotKey, Man. But as the humorless name suggests, this program, along with scores of other similar programs, lets you assign functions or text to certain "hot keys." Press the Windows key along with the "o" key, and Windows Notepad opens. If you don't like that set of keys, assign the "alt" and "z" keys, and tell it what to open _ Word, for example. Knock yourself out.

I don't usually bash free programs. People far better than I write code out of the goodness of their carpal tunnels and make them available to all comers. But man, I had some significant problems with this keystroke program.

For starters, it comes with a bunch of pre-assigned key combinations. A few don't work at all, and a few work only partially. A string of text that I assigned to a hot key missed the first word. That is really annoying.

The interface is about as flashy as a shiny black $99 suit that comes with two pairs of pants, six white shirts, five hankies and a pair of clip-on suspenders. I guess it's fair to assume the authors don't get around Windows 7 much. Other free programs look as if the authors get it, design-wise.

OK, free is free, but sometimes it pays to pay for a program. If you need to set up lots of hot keys _ and they can be real time-and-keystroke savers, try Keyboard Express, at You can download a trial version, or pony up for one of the best deals around, in terms of hot-key programs, $30 to register.

Download-wise, I kept getting a message that the HotKeyMan website was fraudulent, according to Mr. Norton. So don't even try. (One way to download it is at Uninstaller-wise, I couldn't. It kept telling me that the program was running when, in fact, it wasn't. Now I'm stuck with it, and that's not funny, creative or anything but annoying. I wised up really quickly.

(For other utilities and programs, visit the author's website at

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