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I now this may sound quite lazy, but I connect to a VPN several times a day (since the laptop gets disconnected from time to time).

I am aware of the "Show VPN Status in the Menubar" option, but is there a way I can make it a keyboard shortcut?

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You could create an AppleScript which would run a shell script to racoonctl - the specific commands will depend upon your VPN connection. Then use Script Utility to enable the global Script Menu, then add a new keyboard shortcut in System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts, and assign it to the script (or use a launcher utility such as Quicksilver).

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