“Z” is an application – launcher. Its task is to simplify and speed up many everyday activities – especially if you like to use the keyboard a lot. This program was created when Microsoft decided to replace the Start Menu with a full-screen panel. As this panel was inconvenient to use and relatively slow, I decided to write an application that would make access to various places in the system easier.

There is a very simple story behind the somewhat mysterious name “Z”. Originally, the global shortcut calling “Z” was supposed to be Win + Z. It turned out, however, that from some version of Windows (probably from Vista) Microsoft reserved all shortcuts with the Win key, which made it impossible to use it in the application. So finally Alt + Space became the default shortcut, but the name remained.


“Z” works all the time in the background and is available after pressing a specific shortcut (by default it is left Alt + Space ). It has a minimal user interface so that you can focus on the search results, not the appearance of the application. You can close the window by pressing Escape or (after enabling the option in the settings) by pressing the global shortcut again.

Search works in two modes: by using a keyword or directly. Typing a keyword will narrow the search to a specific module – for example, typing start and pressing a spacebar restricts the search to the Start Menu.


Entering a question mark (?) will cause “Z” to display all available modules with their keywords. Among them are:


Z can calculate simple and complex mathematical expressions – it is functionally compatible with ProCalc (uses the same engine). Some examples (try typing yourself into the Z box):

  • 2+2*2 – computing simple expressions;
  • [1,2;3,4]*[5;6] – matrix calculations;
  • {2+2,8*8} – lists (possibility to perform several calculations at once)
  • 0hff & 0b10101010 – calculations in various number systems (supported: 0h, 0d, 0o, 0b)
  • sin(3.14159) – popular mathematical functions
  • ((1+2i)*(6+20i))^1.5 – computing with complex numbers

Control Panel

With the help of “Z”, you can quickly access many Control Panel entries. For example, try writing Mouse or Date and time.


“Z” helps you quickly access program shortcuts on the desktop. This feature is especially useful when you keep a lot of shortcuts there and the desktop is obscured at the moment.


If you have any places or websites that you access more often, you can add them to your favorites – they will then be included in the search results and you will have quick access to them.


With “Z” you can get to anywhere on the local file system in no time. Moreover, “Z” supports accelerated path input, that is, instead of C:\Windows\System32\Drivers you may just type C:\W\32\D. However, keep in mind that your search results will include all directories that match the pattern you entered (i.e. C:\*W*\*32*\*D*).


If necessary, with “Z” you can quickly calculate MD5 or SHA1 of a short text.

Process List

If you need to kill a process quickly, use the kill keyword.


Z can shutdown the system, restart it, put it to sleep or hibernate (if this option is available).


If you keep your projects in certain directories, enter them into the settings of this module and you will have quick access to them.


The “Z” window also works like the “Run” command from the Start Menu – just enable the appropriate option.

System directories

Do you need to quickly access system directories such as Startup, Documents or Printers? “Z” can do this as well.

Start Menu

When launched, “Z” indexes contents of the Start Menu, so if there is a shortcut to the program you want to run, you can just enter its name and hit Enter.

Internet search

“Z” is preconfigured to search on Google, Maps, DevDocs.io, Wikipedia and Youtube and some others. However, you can define your own search engines at any time and use them by entering specific keyword.


“Z” also includes a launcher that you can configure to display programs or web shortcuts as you wish. The program then becomes a replacement for the Start menu, only faster and much easier to use.


If you have a specific need to search for information in a place “Z” doesn’t know yet, you can write a plugin and extend its capabilities. An example project is included in the installation package (you will find it in the directory where you install “Z”).


“Z” is a free and open source program. If you want to view its code, you can find it on GitLab. If you want to test it, you can find the appropriate download link in the Download section of this website.

Known issues

There are several known issues.

“Z” indexes directories such as the Desktop and the Start Menu only when launched. So if you install a program, it won’t show in “Z” until you restart it. This issue will be fixed in an upcoming release.

Occasionally, “Z” does not set focus on the text field after the first recall. This happens sporadically – you just need to click the text field to set the focus manually – and from this moment the program will behave correctly.

What do you think?

Do you like “Z”? Let me know in comments.