Launch Apps with a Keystroke in Windows with MadAppLauncher

After using Windows 8, which allows you to launch apps with so much ease through the tabbed metro interface, you will find it a little hard to start programs in older version of Windows. If you feel like you are clicking too much and too many times just to launch a program, then free MadAppLauncher can help you out. MadAppLauncher makes it easy for you to launch apps in two or three keystrokes. It is able to assign two or three keystrokes to open a program, file, folder or command. You can configure many different things to be launched with MadAppLauncher.

MadAppLauncher is a simple application launcher for Windows. It can launch files in two to three keystrokes. It is an open source program. You can download it from the sourceforge website. It is designed in .NET 4.0, so you must install .NET 4.0 redistributable before you can run this program. You can download Microsoft .NET 4.5 from

Once you have installed, you can start assigning the apps, folders or commands to different keystrokes. You can either manually assign the programs by yourself, or you can download the ready made MAL files from the MadAppsLauncher website. Then all you have to do is open the downloaded MAL file in MadAppLauncher. You can select File → Open from the menubar and select your downloaded MAL file. You should be extra careful when downloading MAL files from the internet, as it might contain malicious commands.

Launch Apps with a Keystroke with MadAppLauncher

If you want to assign a program or command manually, to a keystroke, then right-click on the button of that keystroke and select Edit from the right-click context menu as shown in the picture above. This would open a window where you can edit the property of a button. In this window, you can browse for a program file, folder or just type in a command line. You can give a name to your button, select an icon etc. You can also choose where the open program window would be shown (normal window or a special portion of your screen). You can choose if you want to run it with administrator privileges. Finally, you can click on the OK button to save the settings.

Launch Apps with a Keystroke with MadAppLauncher

Alternatively, you can just drag-n-drop a file, program shortcut, folder etc. on the MadAppLauncher window. It will be automatically associated with the button you drop it on. Once you have assigned the keys to launch a program, folder or command line, just click on the MadAppLauncher icon in your system tray to bring it to the focus. Then press a number key to select a tab (like 1 for Applications, 2 for Accessories, 3 for Folders and so on). Then press a letter key if you want to launch the program associated with it.

For example, if I want to launch Windows Explorer, then I would press 1 (to select the Applications tab) and then E to launch Windows Explorer. You can also just click on a button to launch the linked program. This way you do not have to dig through the Start Menu or type in many commands to launch a program. I personally use the elevated command prompt a lot and assigning it to the MadAppLauncher buttons would make it very easy to start it.

Launch Apps with a Keystroke with MadAppLauncher

In the settings of MadAppLauncher, you can choose options for automatically updating it, automatically selecting the tabs on mouse-over, automatically save the MAL files, minimize when clicking on the close button and more. The settings for changing the look of MadAppLauncher are available from the menubar under the View sub-menu. You can select to auto-hide the MadAppLauncher window, hide empty buttons, auto-center the window etc.

So if you are tired of clicking on the Start Menu and struggling through Windows Explorer, opening one folder after another just to launch a command, program document or folder, then its time for you to install MadAppLauncher on your PC. It supports Windows XP, Vista and 7 and best of all – its freeware.

You can download MadAppLauncher from