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Up through XP, there was an undocumented feature which let you assign a hotkey
to a particular Start Menu pinned entry. If the name of the shortcut began
with a letter, and was followed by TWO spaces, and then by the actual name of
the item, you could execute the shortcut from within the Start Menu just by
entering that letter. So for example if a pinned item had the name "x
WinExplorer", you could hit the Windows key to open the Start Menu, then hit
the x key, and Explorer would open. No need to hit Enter. No need to click the
mouse on anything.
I tried doing this on a friend's Win 7 computer, and it no longer works. So I
wondered if the hotkey feature has been restored with Classic Shell. It really
is convenient. On my XP machine, I have three entries for Windows Explorer,
each set to open with a different drive or folder expanded. And since the
hotkeys only work within the Start Menu, you can just use a single letter - no
need for ALT, CTL, etc.
If not in Classic Shell, if anyone knows of another way to assign hotkeys that
work ONLY within the Win 7 Start Menu, I'd like to know about it.
Keys no longer work in the Win7 start menu for multiple reasons.
First, there's the search box. It is focused by default and steals all keys.
Even without the search box, pressing a key only selects the menu item and
doesn't execute it. This is because the item may have a jumplist. So you have
to press key+Enter to execute or key+Right to open the jumplist.