Key shortcuts in Windows XP frustrate me. For one thing, you can only assign key shortcuts to shortcut files (.lnk files) on the desktop. At least, that’s the consensus. It’s not completely true, though. You can also assign ‘certain’ key combination shortcuts to the shortcut files found in Programs > Accessories. The caveat is that the key combination must be of the form ‘ctrl + alt + …’, whereas shortcuts on the desktop can also be given key combinations with ‘ctrl + shift’.
So, not a perfect alternative to having a dedicated shortcut file on the desktop, but it could help you declutter a little.
To assign a key combination to a shortcut file, open the files Properties menu by right-clicking on it and choosing ‘Properties’, or press Alt+Enter when the file is selected. Now select the ‘Shortcut’ entry field, and press the keys you would like to use. Finally click Ok, and you’re all set.