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This question already has an answer here:

I recently switched from Ubuntu, and I was feeling very comfortable with using Ctrl + Alt + T to launch terminal. Can I assign Shift + Cmd + T to do the same thing in Yosemite? Specifically, I want a new terminal window to be opened.

marked as duplicate by user24601, nohillside Dec 26 '15 at 8:09

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44

Yes this is possible. Please revise the question title to "Creating System-Wide Keyboard Shortcut To Launch Applications" so further question-seekers can find this resolution easily.

Most system events can be directly handled and manipulated with Automator. Automator is highly resourceful, yet, not taken advantage of. I'll walk you through the steps to creating a system wide keyboard shortcut for opening any application, but in your case, Terminal.

Step 1 : Open Automator [located in Applications > Automator]

Step 2 : Create a New Service for your 'Document Type'

pic1

Step 3 : Before moving forward with anything else, ensure you change the input methods in the top right sidebar to where it is now capable of running without any input in a specific application. Emulate the following picture:

pic2

Step 4 : Click on the Library tab 'Utilities' > Drag and Drop the 'Launch Application' into your workflow. Select your Application, in your case, you will have to manually find it by selecting 'other'. Your screen should now resemble mine:

pic3

Step 5 : Save your Service to whatever name you want, for this instance, I went ahead and saved mine as Launch Terminal, you'll see why this is important in a minute.

Step 6 : Navigate to your System Preferences > Keyboard > 'Shortcuts' tab.

Step 7 : Click on the 'Services' tab in the left side bar and all your services will populate. Navigate to the 'General' section, and since it's a newly created service, it will automatically be turned on by default. Here is where you can set your keyboard shortcut. [THERE WILL NOT BE ONE BY DEFAULT]

pic4

Step 8 : Close your System Preferences after you set the shortcut and test it out! Voila! Magnifico!

There are some things to consider when selecting your shortcut:

  • SHIFT+CMD+T is a widely used variable. The shortcut you set shouldn't be a keyboard shortcut used elsewhere. Since we didn't specify an input or specific application, this shortcut can be used system wide. However if an app already is hard coded to use this keyboard shortcut, yours will be overrided. Safari has the same short cut, so the Application will override your service keyboard shortcut. So use a pattern of keys not used elsewhere.
    For safety I used : SHIFT+CONTROL+OPTION+CMD+T as no other applications really use that. You can use whatever you want, I just wanted to clear that up before people commented.
  • Why is saving the name appropriately important?
    Services populate according to the types of files you select in finder in the right click contextual menu. So for example: you select a finder menu item that is a picture and you have a service set to resize those photos, the contextual menu will populate that service in there :
    pic5
    As you can see the service populates in your contextual menu, that doesn't matter now since you didn't specify input or an application when creating the workflow in Yosemite, but you don't know how this will effect future OS releases.
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    that deserves a + from me for all the work you did. – Ruskes Jan 19 '15 at 5:59
  • In Mavericks I find that a shortcut under Services only works after you've 'pre-warmed' it by once choosing it from the menu. For a 'cold' start in Mavericks I create the service the same way you explain; but then put the shortcut under Shortcuts - App Shortcuts - All Applications - Add - (type in service name) – Chris F Carroll Jun 8 '15 at 21:28
  • I'm not sure I follow your question, you may have to be more specific. Additionally, I no longer have Mavericks to confirm @ChrisFCarroll but I recall it always working as that's about the OS & time I really started utilizing Automator. I've updated to Yosemite when it was a beta as I'm a developer and I'm currently upgrading to el capitan as we speak. So it would be you word against mine at this point since I can no longer test it on 10.9 – soulshined Jun 8 '15 at 21:41
  • I work on MacOS Sierra 10.12.3 and this method worked for me only after restarting my system. – Kshitij Saraogi Mar 26 '17 at 22:40
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    With macOS 10.14.x Apple has changed things around - What's "Service" on your screenshot of Automator is now "Quick Action" (same icon) - In the keyboard settings, it's still Services. – friederbluemle Feb 26 at 14:11
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Another option is to use the free menubar app Apptivate. I use it hundreds of times/day.

Description from the site:

Use global hotkeys or the Apptivate interface to: Launch, hide and quick peek applications; Execute scripts; Run Automator workflows; Instant access to files and folders; Hotkey sequences

What I love about Apptivate:

  • Not only launches an app (or folder, script, doc) via global hotkey (if it isn't currently running), but the same hotkey also brings the app's window(s) to the foreground if already running and hides them if the app currently has the focus.
  • Easily create/change/find hotkeys from the menubar drop-down
  • The quick peek feature is great for quickly referencing something in one app while working in another.

Apptivate Screenshot

  • This is a great little tool. Thanks for sharing. It would be better if the icon could be hidden from the status bar. – Leon li Apr 18 '17 at 21:28
  • @Leon li - you can use Bartender (macbartender.com) to hide icons from macOS's Menu Bar. – Kye Hittle Apr 19 '17 at 2:14
  • This is brilliant. Should be the accepted answer given it's simplicity – jay May 9 at 1:12
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There are some good options here but I wanted to add my personal favorite which I've been using since 10.5 and still works on 10.11.2: Spark 3.

http://www.shadowlab.org/Software/spark.php

It's freeware and extremely easy to set up. Here's the developer's description:

Spark is a powerful, and easy Shortcuts manager. With Spark you can create Hot Keys to launch applications and documents, execute AppleScript, control iTunes, and more... You can also export and import your Hot Keys library, or save it in HTML format to print it. Spark is free, so use it without moderation!

Here's a screenshot of the interface:

Spark User Interface

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