QAP 101: What should I know about Quick Access Popup before I start (and can’t stop) using it?

> Quick Access Popup Installation Demo (9 min.)
> First steps with Quick Access Popup (9 min.)

When you run it, Quick Access Popup (QAP) adds an icon in the Notification Area and awaits your orders. When you want to open a frequently used folder, launch an application or work on a document, open the Quick Access Popup menu.

  1. There are different ways to to open the Quick Access Popup menu. The most common are:
    • click the Middle Mouse Button ANYWHERE on your Desktop;
    • or if you are a keyboard shortcut addict, press Windows + W.

Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification Area (System Tray)

You can also open the QAP menu from the Quick Access Popup icon in the Notification Area (System Tray).

Launching favorites

In the QAP menu, select your favorite folder, application or document. Quick Access Popup will instantly launch it!

You are already working in a Windows Explorer and just want to change the folder in the current window?

Click the Middle Mouse Button while the mouse pointer is over the Explorer window (or press Windows + W while the Explorer window is active). In the popup menu, select the desired folder. Quick Access Popup will instantly navigate your Explorer to the selected folder! Changing folders in file dialog boxes (Open, Save As, etc.) is also available if you enable this option (see  Can I change folders in file dialog boxes?).

Customize your menu

Now, you can’t resist to customize your popup menu? Adding your own folders, applications, documents, web links or FTP site is very easy.

  1. Open the QAP popup menu (Middle Mouse Button or Windows + W) and choose the Customize menu.
  2. In the Customize window, click the Add button, select the type of favorite to add (for example Folder, Document or Application) and click Continue.
  3. In the Add Favorite window, enter the menu name and the path to your favorite folder, application or document. There are plenty of options to discover in the other tabs but all you need to enter is in the first one justly named Basic Settings.
  4. Click Add when you are finished with the favorite’s settings.
  5. Back in the Customize window, use the various buttons to add, reorder, remove or edit your favorites. Don’t forget to click the big Save & Close button in the Customize window to keep your changes.

There are other ways to add favorites:

  • Add folders or web pages on the fly. When you are in a favorite folder or web page, open the QAP popup menu, select the menu Add Active Folder or Web page (or press Shift + Control + A) and enter the menu name of this new favorite. See more info about the Add Active Folder or Web page feature.
  • Drag & drop favorite folders, documents or applications from your file manager to the Customize window and give them a menu name. That’s it!
  • Add favorite folders, documents or application using the Windows Explorer context menu. See Which QAP commands are available using Explorer Context menus?
  • There are special items in the My QAP Essentials, My Special Folders, My Snippets and My Windows Apps allowing to add new QAP Features, new Windows Special Folders, new Windows Apps and new Snippets.

What else should I know when I’ll get familiar with the basics?

  1. Can I change folders in file dialog boxes?
  2. What are these special folders in the My Special Folders menu?
  3. What are these options in the My QAP Essentials menu?
  4. Gather favorites in submenus.
  5. Launch groups of related favorites.
  6. Harness the Alternative features
  7. Iron the QAP icon in the Notification Area
  8. What are the QAP global options?

What hotkeys or shortcuts are set by default when QAP is installed and how can I change them?

During installation, shortcuts are created for two types of hotkeys: popup menu hotkeys and favorite hotkeys. These hotkeys are always available, regardless of the active window. If whenever they interfere with your existing hotkeys, you will see below how to change or remove them.

Note: There are also a set of hotkeys available only in the Customize window. These hotkeys are covered in the Customize help page.

Popup menu hotkeys

By default, the QAP popup menu can be triggered by the Middle Mouse Button and the keyboard shortcut Windows + W. A second popup menu called Alternative menu is triggered by default by Shift + Middle Mouse Button or Shift + Windows + W. You can change these settings in Options dialog box, Popup Hotkeys tab.

Favorite hotkeys

Mouse or keyboard hotkeys can also be assigned to any favorite in your menu. This allow you to launch a favorite without having to open the QAP popup menu and locate your favorite.

At installation time, only some QAP feature favorites are assigned to shortcuts. They are in the My QAP Essentials menu. This menu is created at installation in the Main popup menu. It includes keyboard shortcuts for the following menu and QAP features:

  • Shift-Control-Q for Quick Launch
  • Shift-Control-U for Reopen Current Folder in Dialog Box
  • Shift-Control-F for Reopen a Folder

Two other QAP features shortcuts are also inserted in the Main menu during installation:

  • Shift-Control-C for Customize
  • Shift-Control-A for Add Active Folder or Web page

You can change all these shortcuts by editing each favorite separately or you can edit all of them in the Hotkeys dialog box: select Tools, Hotkeys in the Customize window menu bar. See also Can I launch my favorites with keyboard or mouse shortcuts?


How do I display the Quick Access Popup menu?

QAP has various types of triggers to open two different menus. Each menu can be open with a mouse button, a keyboard hotkey or an icon.

1) Main QAP menu mouse and keyboard triggers

The default mouse trigger is the Middle Mouse Button and the default keyboard trigger is Windows+W.

  • These triggers show the QAP popup menu over any window (except those excluded, more info about exclusion list).
  • In the QAP menu, the favorite you choose is launched in a new window.
  • But, if the favorite is a folder and the target window where you open the QAP menu supports folder navigation (Windows Explorer, Console or other file managers), the window location is changed to the favorite folder.
  • Folder navigation is also available for file dialog boxes (Open, Save As, etc.) but this has to be enabled in Options window (see the Options window, General tab, first checkbox).

Using a touchpad
Most of the touchpads can be configured to emulate a click on the middle mouse button (for example, by doing a three fingers tap). Check the documentation of your touchpad. You will find more info in this How-To Geek article.

Open the Alternative menu with Shift + Middle Mouse Button or Shift + Windows + W


2) Alternative menu mouse and keyboard triggers

The default mouse trigger is Shift + Middle Mouse Button and the default keyboard trigger is Shift + Windows + W.

  • These triggers show the Alternative menu over any windows.
  • In the Alternative menu, you select the actions to apply to one of your favorites (see the list of Alternative menu features in: What are the Alternative menu features?).
  • Then, in the main QAP menu, select the target favorite on which the Alternative menu feature will be executed.

Clicking on the Notification zone icon

You can open the menu by clicking the QAP icon in the Notifications area (right part of the task bar). More info here.

Using Explorer Context menus

You can also show the popup menu from the Explorer context menu (right-click menu). On the Desktop, right-click anywhere except on icons and select Show Quick Access Popup menu. To use the Alternative menu, hold Shift key while you right-click the Desktop and select Show Quick Access Popup Alternative menu.

Using the Ctrl+Ctrl hotkey

You can also open the main QAP menu by pressing twice the left or right Control key. Enable this feature in the Options, Popup Hotkeys.

From the command line or a batch file

Finally, you can open the menu from the command line, a batch file (or any script) or from a file shortcut using the QAP companion executable QAPmessenger.

What are the Alternative menu features?

Alternative menu features are actions to be executed on one of the favorites in your QAP menu. After you click one of the options in the Alternative menu, the full QAP menu is displayed to let you choose on what favorite you want to execute the Alternative menu command.

You open the Alternative  menu with a mouse or a keyboard triggers. The default mouse trigger is Shift + Middle Mouse Button and the default keyboard trigger is Shift + Windows + W.

  • These triggers show the Alternative menu over any windows.
  • In the Alternative menu, you select the actions to apply to one of your favorites (see the list of Alternative menu features below).
  • Then, in your QAP menu, select the target favorite on which the Alternative menu feature will be executed.

Alternative menu features

The Alternative menu offers the following features:

  • Open in new window: open the favorite in a new window instead of changing the folder in the target window (even if the menu is opened in an existing Explorer window or in a file dialog box).
  • Edit a Favorite: change a favorite settings directly from the QAP menu (without having to open the Customize window).
  • Copy a Favorite’s Path or URL: copy the file path, the URL or the content of a Snippet to the Clipboard in order to paste it in any other window.
  • Run as administrator: run the application with administrator access (elevated privileges).
  • Open the Containing Folder in the Current Window: open, in the current Explorer window, the parent folder of the selected favorite document, application or folder.
  • Open the Containing Folder in a New Window: open the parent folder of the selected favorite in a new window (even if the menu is opened in an existing Explorer window or in a file dialog box).
  • Move the selected file to a favorite folder (requires v11.5.7.1 or more recent): move the selected file(s) or folder(s) to one of the favorite folders in your QAP menu. The selected files or folders are the selected items in the active Windows Explorer, Directory Opus window or on the Desktop (not available with Total Commander at this time).
  • Copy the selected file to a favorite folder (requires v11.5.7.1 or more recent): copy the selected file(s) or folder(s) to one of the favorite folders in your QAP menu. See Move the selecte file above.

Alternative menu features are also available directly from the regular menu by using various keyboard modifiers when clicking a favorite in the popup menu. By default these keyboard modifiers are available:

  • Left Shift + Click:  Open in new window.
  • Left Control + Click: Copy a Favorite’s Path or URL.
  • Left Shift + Left Control + Click: Edit a Favorite.
  • Right Shift + Click:  Open the Containing Folder in the Current Window.
  • Right Control + Click: Open the Containing Folder in a New Window.
  • Right Shift + Right Control + Click: Run as administrator.
  • Move the selected file to a favorite folder and Copy the selected file to a favorite folder do not have default keyboard modifiers but you can remove modifiers from the less used features above to free them for the new ones.

About this, see how to configure Alternative menu features shortcuts: Can I launch Alternative menu features directly from the regular popup menu?

Finally, you can also use these Alternative menu features in the Quick Launch search box. See Can I quickly search QAP to launch one of my favorites? for more details.

Video on the Alternative menu

My AHK colleague and friend Joe Glines asked me what was the most useful but least known feature of Quick Access Popup. Answer: the Alternative menu!

Can I quickly search QAP to launch one of my favorites?

Can I quickly search QAP to launch one of my favorites?

Can I launch my favorites with keyboard or mouse shortcuts?

Shortcuts addicts will feel like in a candy store 🙂 !  In Quick Access Popup, any favorite location can be associated to a keyboard or a mouse shortcut.

In the Add/Edit Favorite dialog box, second tab Menu Options, click the Change button beside the Shortcut section.

Shortcuts can be assigned to any type of favorite. Not only to folders, documents or applications, but also to submenus, groups of favorites or QAP features.

When setting a shortcut, QAP check if the shortcut is already assigned to another favorite or to one of the QAP menus triggers. If yes, it will ask for another shortcut.

You can assign a mouse button using the Mouse drop down list. You can also use any key in the Keyboard key selector (“T” in the above screen capture). You can also select special characters like space bar, tab, enter, escape or menu key (also known as “application key” or “context menu key”, and displayed “application” in the key selector) by clicking on the desired link under the key selector.

All these mouse buttons or keys can be combined with one or more of the keyboard modifiers on the left side: Shift, Alt, Ctrl and Win keys. You can create shortcuts for Left only, Right only or Any keyboard modifiers. For example, Left Alt + Space and Right Alt + Space can launch different favorites or submenus. In the hotkeys lists, left modifiers are prefixes with “<” (for example “<Alt+Space”) and right modifiers with “>” (for example, “>Alt+Space”).

You can select None to remove the shortcut or, when a default hotkey is defined for this favorite, click Reset default hotkey to choose the suggested hotkey.

Starting with v11., you can also enter a hotkey code manually by clicking the manual input link. This allows you to assign hotkeys to special keys only accessible by their scan code. For example, you can assign a favorite to the Pause hotkey using its scan code SC045. Simply enter SC045 in the manual input dialog box. You can find more info on Special keys and on the internal representation of other hotkeys in the AutoHotkey documentation.

Note: You may find that some default hotkeys set by Windows using the Windows key (like Windows + L that locks your PC) could prevent you from assigning these keys with QAP. If you wish, you can disable the Windows + L (Lock) hotkey or even disable all Windows default hotkeys by creating or editing some registry keys.

Manage Hotkeys

To get a global view of your keyboards or mouse shortcuts, click the Hotkeys button in the Settings window. In the shortcuts list of the Manage Hotkeys window, you can sort shortcuts by Menu, Favorite NameHotkey or Favorite Location.  Double click a shortcut to change or remove its assigned hotkey.


By default, the list shows only favorites with shortcuts. Check See all favorites to find the favorites for which you could assign a new shortcut.

Take note that this window has a second tab named Hotstrings. See What are hotstrings?

Blocking QAP keyboard shortcuts in some application

There may be some applications where you do not want the QAP keyboard hotkeys to interfere with the app’s normal behavior. See this: Can I block the QAP keyboard shortcuts if they interfere with one of my apps?

What are hotstrings?

“Hotstrings are a very useful new feature. Its much easier to remember short alias strings for snippets compared to a lot of hotkeys.”  


Using hotstrings is a powerful way to launch your favorites.

An hotstring is a shortcode or small sequence of keys that automatically triggers a QAP favorite (as a keyboard shortcut would do). The most common action for an hotstring is to replace an abbreviation (also called trigger) with the full content of a Text Snippet favorite.

For example, if you set “adr#” as an hotstring for a Text Snippet containing your full address, when, in any window, you type “adr#” plus Space or Enter, the trigger “adr#” is automatically deleted and your full address is typed as a replacement. This works in the active window of any application. In my example, the hash (“#”) symbols at the end of the hotstring is my personal way to make sure the hotstring trigger would not appear in the normal text I could type.

Hotstrings can also launch any type of favorites (folders, documents, applications, etc.). With some creativity, users could find efficient ways to use hotstring for any kind of favorites, or even some funny ways, for example, play a gentle sound when you type your sweetheart’s name. Hotstring can even open a submenu of your QAP menu or launch a group of favorites.

Using hotstrings

Since hotstrings are generally used with Snippet favorites, add a favorite of type Snippet or edit an existing Snippet favorite. In the Content text zone of the Basic Settings tab, type what will be sent as replacement text for this hotstring. Remember that you will also be able to send this content to the active window by selecting the favorite in the popup menu or by assigning a keyboard shortcut to this favorite.

To set an hotstring, open the Edit Favorite dialog box and select the Menu Options tab. Then, click the Change button beside Hotstring (trigger and options).

In the Change hotstring dialog box, set the trigger and its options. Any character (letters, numbers or symbols) can be used as trigger.

You can also assign an hotstring to a new snippet using the Snippet Quick Add QAP feature.  See: Can I create a Snippet using the Clipboard and define its Hotstring in one step?

Due to large number of options combinations (taking into account its case-sensitivity and other options), QAP does not validate that the hotstring triggers are unique. In case of duplication, depending on various options, only one hotstring will be triggered. Checkbox options are described below.

When an hotstring is added to a favorite, its trigger will be displayed in the popup menu after the favorite name. This reminder is displayed (or not) according to the Hotkey and Hotstring reminders option in the Menu Appearance tab of the Options window.

The favorites hotstrings are also displayed in the Customize main window, under the Hotkey column, after the keyboard shortcut if there is one.


Managing hotstrings

You can review all your hotstrings at once in the Manage Hotkeys dialog box. Select the ToolsHotstrings menu in the Customize window. This will take you the Hotstrings tab in the Manage Hotkeys dialog box (you can change tab at the top to edit keyboard Shortcuts if you wish). Double-click on a favorite to edit its hotstring. If you want to add hotstrings to other favorites, first click the See all favorites checkbox (lower-left) to display favorites without hotstring and double-click the favorite to edit.


Hotstrings options

Various options can be configured for each hotstrings. These are for specific needs and may be left with their default unchecked values.

  • Case sensitive: When you type a trigger, it must exactly match the case defined in the favorite.
  • Expand inside other words: The hotstring will be triggered even when it is inside another word; that is, when the character typed immediately before it is alphanumeric. For example, with an hotstring trigger “al” for the Text Snippet “airline”, typing “practical ” would produce “practicairline “.
  • Keep hotstring abbreviation: Normally, automatic backspacing erases the abbreviation you type. You can stop it with this option in case your trigger is the beginning of your content and you need to keep it.
  • Do not wait for Ending key: Normally, an ending character is required to trigger an hotstring. Ending characters are: SpaceEnterTab and the keys - ( ) ' : ; " / , . ? ! [ ] { } \. With this option, you will not need to type an ending key. For example, the abbreviation adr# would be replaced (or would launch its associated favorite) the moment you type the # character.
  • Omit the ending character when pasting snippets (with QAP v11.1 or more recent): As mentioned above, typing an ending character like dot (.), comma (,) and the others listed above triggers the pasting of a text snippet. This ending character is restored after the trigger is replaced with the snippet’s content. Use this option if you prefer not to restore this character.

Default hotstring options

If you always use the same options for your hotstrings (for example, I always use the Do not wait for Ending key option), you can set them in the Options window, Snippets and Hotstrings tab.

These default options will only be used for new hotstrings. They will not impact existing hotstrings.

If, like me, you always end the triggers with a specific character to make them unique (“#” in my case because, on my French Canadian keyboard, this key is easily accessible), you can set the option Do not wait for Ending key as default and the last character of your trigger (“#”) will immediately launch the replacement or the favorite.

Tip: Users reported that starting an hotstring trigger with a comma (,), for example ,adr is a convenient way to make a trigger unique since, in normal writing, the comma is always followed by a space.

How can I make the QAP icon always stay in the Notification Area?

When you run it, Quick Access Popup (QAP) adds an icon in the Notification Area (System Tray) and await your orders. You can click this icon to open the QAP menu.

But icons in the Notification zone have a tendency to fidget and disappear in an obscure sub menu… There is a method to iron the QAP icon in the Notification zone. Follow the instructions for your Windows version:

See also: When do I need to use the QAP icon in the Notifications Area?

Can I block the QAP menu trigger (Middle Mouse Button) if it interfere with one of my other apps?

Yes. There may be some applications where the user does not want the QAP menu mouse trigger (by default, Middle Mouse Button) to interfere with the app’s normal behavior. QAP allows to block the QAP mouse menu based on the window title, window class or process name.

But, before considering blocking hotkeys, you could first see if another hotkey would best fit your needs. If yes, use the Options window, tab Popup Hotkeys to select different triggers for the QAP menu.

If you prefer the exclusion approach, open the Popup Menu tab in the Options. In the Mouse trigger Blacklist or Whitelist text zone, select the exclusion (Blacklist) or inclusion (Whitelist) approach and enter any part of the window title of the application to exclude or include (the window title is what appears in the top horizontal bar of the window). You can enter multiple exclusions, one per line.


For example, to exclude Google Chrome and Microsoft Word applications, select Blacklist and enter the following two lines in the exclusion list:

Google Chrome
Microsoft Word

Click Save and try the to open the menu again in these windows. The menu won’t show up. The QAP hotkey is disabled and the Middle Mouse Button click is sent to the target window as if QAP was not running.

Excluding dialog boxes

By default, QAP will only block the mouse hotkey in the app’s main window. You can also disable the mouse hotkey in app’s dialog boxes by adding the prefix * (asterisk) to the title or the class name, for example:

*3D Studio

In this example, the mouse hotkey will be blocked in both the 3D Studio Max main window and in its dialog boxes.

To be more specific

Using this technique, there may be situation where a window title in another app could include one of the exclusion strings you entered. For example, if you save a file in Notepad under the name “My Microsoft Word tips and tricks.txt”, this window would be excluded because it includes the string “Microsoft Word”. But you can be more specific with this:

- Microsoft Word

Adding the dash and space at the beginning of the string will exclude Word windows because the app name in the Word’s title bar is always preceded by the document name and a dash between spaces.

To be a bit more technical

Another way to be more specific is to enter part of the app’s “window class name”. For example, Word’s windows class name is “OpusApp” and Chrome’ windows class name is “Chrome_WidgetWin”. So, these two exclusion lines could be:


You can also exclude an application based on its process name. This is a solution for applications having variable class names. Usually, the process name is the file name of the application’s executable file, for example the Chrome process name is “chrome.exe” and the Word process name is “winword.exe”. So, the exclusions list could also be:


How can I find a window class name, process name or a window title if the app has no title bar?

To identify the window you want to exclude, use the Get window info button at the bottom of the Exclusions list in the Options dialog box. It will prompt you to click in the target window with the QAP menu hotkey (Middle Mouse Button) and will copy the window title, class name and process name in your Clipboard. Paste this info in the exclusion list and edit it to remove unnecessary parts as described above.


There are other tools to gather more info about windows. I recommend this freeware utility: WinLister by NirSoft.

To block other QAP keyboard shortcuts, see also: Can I block the QAP keyboard shortcuts if they interfere with one of my apps?

Why are the middle mouse button or keyboard shortcuts not working over some windows?

Most of the time, this issue is related to ACL (Windows Access Control List).

Each window in Windows is launched with a given set of rights. Basically, there are two levels:

  • user level (standard permissions)
  • administrator level (elevated permissions)

With elevated permissions (or privileges), user can make system changes that affect his configuration, security, etc. and that can also affect all other users on the system.

Quick Access Popup hotkey (by default, middle mouse button) only works on windows that have equal or lower access level. If you start an application with an higher “administrator” privileges (using the Run As Administrator Windows Explorer menu), QAP will not have the permission to open its menu over the windows created by this app. To do so, you would have to also launch QAP with administrator privileges.

Is it a good idea to launch QAP as Administrator? You have to know that every program started from QAP will the also inherit these enhanced rights. This could allow them to do changes on your system without prompting you. From a system security point of view, this may put your system at risk. In other words, you have to know what you are doing.