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Outside of a few standard layouts, truly customizing the layout of your keyboard is typically harder than you might expect.

How can I disable my "Windows" key? Or for that matter, remap my entire keyboard?

If your needs are "standard" then the approach while well hidden is pretty easy. However if you want a truly arbitrary mapping this is one of those areas that you'd expect to be a lot easier than it turns out to be.

By "standard" I really mean "something that Microsoft has already thought of". That boils down to two things: a predefined set of foreign keyboard layouts and the Dvorak keyboard layout. (Dvorak is an alternative to the standard QWERTY layout that you can read much more about here.)

If you want to do something non-standard though, things get very interesting and possibly complicated.

For some types of changes such as disabling the Windows key it's possible that your keyboard driver already has a solution for you. I happen to use one of Microsoft's keyboards, and the Intellitype Pro software that is installed includes the ability to do exactly that: configure most of the "special" keys including disabling the Windows key. (Control Panel -> Keyboard -> Key Settings has a list of keys that can then be individually configured.)

It's possible that your needs might also be met by keyboard macro program. These programs allow you to assign sequences of keystrokes or actions to a single key. This could be a viable option if you're looking to simply change the function of a few keys. Of course, you could assign new single keystroke actions to all your keys. The specific capabilities of the programs vary so be sure to check them out to make sure they meet your needs. There are several including EZ Macros, Hot Keyboard, and Macro ToolsWorks.

If you really want to remap the keyboard in arbitrary ways without using a macro utility I have found one utility: AutoHotkey. This tool is designed to do exactly what we've been talking about: reassign the functionality of individual keys on the keyboard.

Article C1861 - November 16, 2003 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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43 Comments
Dixie
February 1, 2004 1:37 AM

Hello
Thought you might be interested if anyone simply wants to disable the Winlogo keys (which I do when my little niece plays her games which disable the keyboard but won't disable the Winlogo keys).
At Doug's Windows Hints & Tips there's a couple of little reg's to download - one disable's the Winlogo keys (restart PC to take effect) and another re-enable's the Winlogo keys (again restart PC to take effect).
Good for people like me who don't have the foggiest about the registry. I use these all the time when she and other children come to visit and play their games.
http://www.dougknox.com/index.html
Kind regards
Dixie
P.S. You have a helpful site indeed!

Swan Lim
May 4, 2004 6:21 PM

Is there any ways to disable individual keys in the std QWERTY keyboard? Or any softwares ie user friendly that can perform the task? Thank you.

Andy
May 29, 2004 10:36 AM

Is there any way I can disable keys for a specific user on 98se?

Leo
May 30, 2004 6:44 PM

I'm not sure. If any of the programs mentioned in the article are things that are added to the startup group, then certainly you could add it for one user (login account) and not another.

Anonymous
June 14, 2004 3:02 PM

I tried out KeyTweak, it worked great

Alister
July 14, 2004 5:48 PM

Check out KeyboardControl SDK at http://www.meliorasoft.com/kits/
It allows that and much more, highly recommended.

Jimmy
July 22, 2004 12:40 AM

Does anyone know where to get a program where one quickly can disable defined keys and quickly restore them again?

Example I would like to disable all but space and arrows.

Rrezemir
April 10, 2005 1:57 PM

Hello. I have one question about
something. I've got IBM notebook ThinkPad R51. Problem is keyboard
is very different. Here is keys FN, CTRL, ALT, SPACE... Because I
have many macros with CTRL and SHIFT and CTRL is in other place (in
Windows keys place). My question is: do exists program where I can
change places for this keyboard keys if it is possible? I like do
it in desktop keyboards style. I mean: FN = CTRL CTRL = Windows
key. If you can, please, answer me. Many greetings from Kosova.

krishna
May 27, 2005 7:55 AM

how do i make my alt gr key to function exactly as my alt key; please advise

Fabrício
May 30, 2005 4:38 AM

Hello. I have a little problem. I cautch a Asus M5NP Notebook with ABNT2 keyboard. My "?" and "/" is in the same place of right windows key and I can't use it?! Disabling the right windows key will work?! Can anyone help me please?!

John Doe
July 9, 2005 11:31 AM

Hello.
I have the same problem with ThinkPad
I need LCtrl to be Windows key, and
Fn to be a LCtrl.
Ctrl key is easy reassignable in registry.
Problem comes up when I try to remap a Fn key.
Anybody, help if you can please.

Riza
July 21, 2005 6:13 PM

Can I change Fn key with Ctrl key in my IBM notebook?! :S

Riza
July 21, 2005 6:15 PM

End yes, I have same problem with IBM ThinkPad like John Doe. :(

shivraj
October 24, 2005 12:49 AM

How i can disable the window key on keyboard


Plz let me know the steps for that

Thanks


shivraj

Shivraj
October 24, 2005 12:51 AM

Hi,


I am trying to disable window key on keyboard using vb.net code but i am not getting it , plz help me

Thanks


shivraj

wer
December 31, 2005 10:39 AM

Thank you!

I'll buy you a latte if you come here :)
Meanwhile, I'll bookmark and browse some ads.

Seasons greetings & A Happy New Year from Oslo, Norway

jonjj7
January 10, 2006 9:08 AM

shivraj,

I created a small application to enable/disable the Windows keys and Application keys (written in C#) if that is all you need to do:

http://www.jonathanjungman.com/projects/DisableThatKey/

Ash
March 2, 2006 11:40 AM

hi leo my sony vaio notebook is playing up the right shift key is sticking!not sticking by somthin in the way<software wise(i think)Thats why my shift key is still sticking could you tell me how to disable it heres some info on my keyboard

standard 101/102 key or microsoft natural ps/2 keyboard
driver date:1/07/2001(my notebooks only a year old)
driver version:5.1.2600.2180

please help!

Sarah
April 9, 2006 5:06 PM

Can i remap my number pad to ALSO type arrows in the 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys? If so how? I have a Dell keyboard, and microsoft applications, if that matters. any help is appreciated. i dont have any of the options that you suggest on my computer

Jeremy
April 27, 2006 11:59 PM

yeah, uhm, I just used a knife to pop it out. Works great.

divina2
May 15, 2006 6:04 AM

please could someone help me i need to disable a key

Leo
May 15, 2006 9:19 AM

Several options discussed in the article you just commented on.

JAG
June 13, 2006 2:08 PM

Ash: "the right shift key is sticking"

That sticking keys you mention may be the "StickyKeys" in Windows Accessibility options. This one and the "FilterKeys" always hit me when I get to a new computer. Somehow the worst thing you can do is to press cancel on it.

How to turn off Windows XP Accessibility feature before it triggers:

Open Start/Settings/Control Panel/Accessibility
Goto tab Keyboard
Disable Use of StickyKeys, FilterKeys and ToggleKeys
Disable Shortcut (under settings) for StickyKeys, FilterKeys and ToggleKeys
Goto tab Mouse
Disable Use and Shortcut for MouseKeys
OK

Carl Hansen
June 14, 2006 7:21 PM

I've downloaded and used KeyTweak. It is awsome. I have an IBM ThinkPad and I always accidentally press annoying internet.back and internet.forward when I meant to press arrow keys. I also made the Insert button just another Shift key. You can change any keys from numbers to punctuation to letters to F_ keys to other grey keys to specialty keys. The only key you cannot change or change something to is the Pause/Break. I wish I could change that one.

Thank you for helping me find this program.

Bob
July 4, 2006 9:29 AM

Everytime I select the number 3 key on my number pad, it launches the DivX.com web site. I suspected perhaps a virus of some sort, updated my definitions and scanned my PC for viruses/spyware. This did nothing. Do you know of a potential solution to this most annoying problem? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Jake
August 29, 2006 10:42 AM

I'd been looking for an easy way to map my Windows keyboard (that I have to use in my current job) to the Mac placements I'm used to. Also, reaching all the way over for the Control key with my pinky was starting to make my wrist hurt. I found my way to this article, downloaded Key Tweak, and 5 minutes later my keyboard is acting like I want. Thanks for the pointer!

RJ
December 9, 2006 11:53 AM

Downloaded KeyTweak to change my Left Windows key to another ALT key. (Note, you have to use the Half Teach Mode to access a left windows key since it is not shown on KeyTweak's main keyboard map.) I'm working in Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign a lot and having pressing the windows key by accident (since it's so close to Alt) is super annoying. Now it's fixed! Thanks so much for suggesting KeyTweak!

Kasper Christensen
December 31, 2006 3:43 AM

I just made a small program, The Game-Hook, for disabling the Windows Start keys:

http://fablewoods.com/programs/gamehook/

Perhaps this will help some of you :)

Ilie Pandia
March 18, 2007 12:09 PM

Hello,

Here is a piece of software that you may find usefull. There's a free edition available.

http://www.softgrupconstruct.ro/onedollartools/

Victoria
June 4, 2007 10:44 AM

When I hit the "single opening quote" (which is the lower case function of the tilde key, I get

`This is a test 09:30:55 Real time

Do you have any idea how I can get rid of this? It is NOT a macro. No function keys are used to get this message.

MC
August 24, 2007 1:27 PM

Thanks! I had an old laptop with the shift key stuck on -- used keytweak and was able to quickly make that key do something harmless. awesome! save me from getting a new keyboard/laptop.

Mohammed Mustafa
November 21, 2007 5:25 AM

when the number lock is ON - the alphanumeric keys on the keyboard displays the following:
instead of U = 4 / I = 5 / O =6 / P =* / J = 1 / k = 2 / l = 3 / := - / M=0 / ? = + /

and How to turn off Windows VISTA Accessibility feature before it triggers or after it has been triggered.
your reply will be hightl appreciated.

Bob Bobertson
November 22, 2007 3:50 PM

I appreciate this commit board. My brother-in-law brought me his laptop and it was acting very strange. After some quick checking, it was apparent that the right shift key was alway on, even though it looked fine. It made the laptop nearly unusable since it would open every icon on the desktop when you clicked on just one. You couldn't even edit text without rewriting everything. I installed KeyTweak and in 30 seconds and 1 reboot, I disabled the right shift key and he was back in business. He said he could live without the key and was thankful he didn't have to pay for a new keyboard or a repair shop. Thanks!!!

andy
July 9, 2008 2:53 AM

Hi Leo,

I have found this forum very helpful. I don't want to use shareware software and would like to remap the regedit to change key assigns.

I found the following link (the Microsoft link above didn't work)
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/archive/w2kscan-map.mspx

For my work, I constantly need to type the Euro symbol (Alt+0128) and wish I could reassign Shift+6 or F6 button as this key.

What is the code to add to the Scancode map to accomplish this?

Thanks in advance!

Steve
July 25, 2008 11:09 AM

Everytime I press the "Y" key it tells me "SAVE AS". How do I get rid of this problem?

Chad
September 1, 2008 2:06 PM

My control keys are disabled, at first I thought that it's a dust or spillage problem, but both keys doesn't function at all. Pressing them is useless as the moment, copying a text would simply type over the highlighted text with the character "c" as in the Ctrl + c key stroke.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Brian
September 18, 2008 11:02 AM

I have this awful keyboard at work where the 3x2 block with home, end, ins, del, etc., is flipped upwards and is 2x3 with home and end on top and ins/del and pgup/pgdown beside each other. Needless to say this is AWFUL and caused much undue stress.

KeyTweaks worked GREAT; it allowed me to do completely arbitrary changes, which I could not do with SharpKeys.

waqas
February 19, 2009 2:41 PM

my laptop's windows key was stuck and i was unable to use it. key tweak helped me out and thanks to you from where i got the link to it.. otherwise i might have to change my keyboard or get it repaired which could cost me a lot.. thanks once again..

Mukul
July 18, 2009 10:55 PM

I have developed a Windows Application using C#.Net. By default, F10 key activates the menu-bar. How can I change the functionality of F10 key to my own functionality?

kevin
February 19, 2010 11:12 PM

Here is a program can disable any key on your keyboard,not only windows key:
http://www.autowinsoftware.com/products/disable-key

steve
March 19, 2011 1:00 AM

I want to set the windows key to be another modifier like control or alt. Do you have any idea how to do this. I do not use the windows key at all.

I have Xemacs installed in both Windows and Linux. Linux has the windows key mapped as another modifier: the Super key. So many Linux users assign user-written macros in Xemacs to be invoked by keypresses like Super-v or Super-n, or Super-Control-a. This leaves all Xemacs built in commands working out of the box, but gives you a large area to map your own macros and lisp code to. Works great, but when you want to use something similar in Windows XP, Windows preempts the Windows key.

How can I re-define the Windows key to be a modifier like Alt?
Is there a list of modifier keys in Windows?
I would really like to have both the LWin key and the right hand equivelent key (document key?) both mapped to be the same, new, modifier key.

Can you point me in the right direction?
Thanks!

devi
July 6, 2011 1:41 AM

sir, i prepared a game. but i want to disable some of the keys in the keyboard. plz suggest me. and how to enable the keys also....
plz tell me the answer as early as possible

Lauren
March 7, 2012 10:37 AM

Some notes --

KeyTweak does global remapping, meaning that the changes you make with it will apply to all users, keyboards, etc. You cannot make two profiles to switch between (such as between the laptop keyboard and a normal keyboard hooked to a docking station)

Keyboard layout manager can create multiple keyboard profiles that you can switch between, but it doesn't let you change the functions of the windows key, or the "right click" key, or home/page up/down/end keys. It only lets you control the letters and numbers.

I still haven't found a way to remap my windows key and page up/down home/end buttons, for one of my keyboards, and still be able to switch between layouts.

Better luck to everyone else!

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