I’m a keyboard person. That is, I prefer using the keyboard over the mouse, and I don’t like switching back and forth. If I’m browsing the web, then I use the mouse only, since no keyboard is needed, but when I’m developing, I try to avoid touching the mouse as much as possible. I use keyboard shortcuts whenever there is one available.

But, attempting to open an application on your PC can be difficult without using the mouse. Unless that is, you install SmartStartMenu. I’ve been using SmartStartMenu for several months now, and it’s one of those applications that you install, and then use so much, that you take it for granted and forget it’s not normally installed in Windows. I was reminded of it recently when using a computer without SmartStartMenu, and I attempted to start an application with it.

Upon install and start up, SmartStartMenu loads into the task bar, a small search box (resizable) with a green arrow box on the left, and a drop down arrow selection box on the right. See the figure below. The arrow on the right shows a list of applications from the index, and the arrow on the left allows you to configure SmartStartMenu.

Screenshot for SmartStartMenu

The Win-S shortcut takes your cursor immediately to the search field, and typing in it opens a select box of all matching files, shortcuts, an applications in the paths you’ve configured the software to use. See the figure below. In this example I began typing ‘open’, in order to load an OpenOffice application. After typing ‘ope’, the figure shows what SmartStartMenu has found for matches. The Most Frequently Used (MFU in the config settings) is selected automatically. (There are different settings for Auto-Select.)

OPE Smart Start Menu screenshot

From here, you can use the arrow keys to select from the drop down or continue typing to further narrow down the options. Once the item you are looking for is selected, simply hit enter to use it.

You can run executables, batch files, shortcuts links, and urls. You can add any directory to scan for items to be included in the search. These items are cached at startup, but you can refresh at any time to pick up something you have installed or added. You can create extra shortcuts with different names in order to improve the speed of finding your applications.

SmartStartMenu is a great addition for Windows users who prefer using the keyboard whenever possible. You can download the freeware application from the SmartStartMenu web site.