Run SyncBack Profiles Using Hot Keys

Author: Michael J. Leaver, 2BrightSparks Pte. Ltd.

Profiles in SyncBack can be started in numerous ways. They can be run manually or automatically via a schedule, periodically, when files are changed, etc. Another way is to have them run when a hot key is pressed. The hot key can either be configured in Windows or in SyncBack.

What is a Hot Key?

In the dictionary, a hot key is defined as a key or a combination of keys providing quick access to a particular function within a computer program. In terms of SyncBack, it means we want a profile to run when a key (or combination of keys) is pressed. For example, if Ctrl-Shift-1 is pressed then we want a profile to run to make a backup. You can decide what hot key to use, but typically it's a combination of keys pressed together. It's important not to choose a key (or combination of keys) that are already being used. For example, using F1 as a hot key is a bad idea as pressing F1 is usually used to get help.

Profile Hot Key

To set a hot key for a SyncBack profile you need to modify the profile and go to the When -> Hot-key profile settings page. There, you can define the hot key you wish to use. Click on the Run the profile when this hot-key is pressed edit box and press the key combination you want to use as a hot key. If the hot key cannot be used (because another profile, or another program or Windows itself is already using it) then when you press the key combination it will show None. To remove a hot key press backspace. You can also choose to have the profile run unattended or not when the hot key is pressed.

For a Hot Key to work, SyncBack itself must be running, e.g. minimized to the system tray. You may want to configure SyncBack to start automatically with Windows when you login. If it is not set to do that then a warning will appear on the When -> Hot-key settings page. Click on the warning to have SyncBack start with Windows.

Windows Hot Key

An alternative to using a hot key in SyncBack is to create a shortcut in Windows and set a hot key for the shortcut. This way when the hot key is pressed, Windows will start the shortcut. Creating a shortcut for a SyncBack profile is very simple: run SyncBack, click on the name of the profile you want to create a shortcut for and drag it to the desktop. This will create a shortcut, that when started, will run that profile (unattended). To assign a hot key to the shortcut: right-click on the shortcut, select Properties from the pop-up menu and then in the Shortcut tab you can assign a Shortcut key.

The benefit to using a shortcut hot key, instead of one in SyncBack, is that SyncBack does not need to be running for the hot key to work. One possible downside is that if you are using SyncBackSE or SyncBackPro, and created the shortcut using SyncBack when it was run elevated, then you will receive the UAC prompt from Windows when the hot key is pressed (unless you have switched off UAC prompting in Windows itself). This does not apply to SyncBackFree as it is not run elevated or when creating the shortcut using SyncBackPro/SE when not run elevated.

You can also modify the shortcut and pass command line parameters to SyncBack. The help file explains what command line parameters are available. For example, you may want the profile to run attended. If so, you need to specify the -i parameter before the profile name.

SyncBack Hot Key

Starting with SyncBack V11, you can also assign a hot key to SyncBack itself. To do this go to Global Settings (via the burger menu) and go to the Settings page. The hot key can be used to make SyncBack appear when minimized.


Hot keys are a simple and convenient method of manually running profiles.

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