The standard Windows keyboard layout hasn't changed much in the past few decades, but there's a chance you don't use every key on your keyboard. If you think the Caps Lock key would work better as something else, or wish you could open up Windows' Task Manager with one keystroke, there are a few ways to remap those unused keys.
If you merely want to remap one key to another, SharpKeys is a simple, open-source program that uses the Windows registry. As an example, I use SharpKeys to make my Alt key act as the Ctrl key, and my Caps Lock act as the Windows key.
Since SharpKeys writes this information directly to the Windows registry, it's the best option for these kinds of one-to-one key remappings. You don't have to rely on some other software as a middleman, and you'll run into the fewest compatibility issues, since Windows itself is interpreting the keystrokes. Download the program (I recommend the portable zip version, which doesn't require installation) and start it up.
To remap a key, click theAddbutton and choose your keys from the two columns. The left column denotes the key you'll press (for example, the Caps Lock key) and the right column denotes the action that key will take (for example, acting as the Windows key). You can also press theType Key button and press a key on your keyboard if you have trouble hunting it down in the list.
When you're done, clickOK. Repeat this process for any other remappings, then click the Write to Registry button. Close the program, restart your computer, and you should find your keys have taken on their new roles. You can even delete SharpKeys when you're done; the program is merely a user-friendly interface for the Windows registry, so once the changes are made, you don't need it anymore.
If your keyboard comes with advanced software, like Logitech's Gaming Software, Corsair's iCUE, or Razer's Synapse, you may have some key-remapping features already present on your system.
Not only can you remap keys, but many of these programs let you create multi-key shortcuts, insert blocks of text, or create different profiles for each of your games. Some will even let you "record" macros, allowing you to create complex shortcuts just by recording your actions and assigning them to a hotkey.
Each of these programs are a bit different, so we can't go into all of them here, but the gist should be the same across manufacturers: download the software, select your keyboard, and look for the option to create new hotkeys, macros, or actions. When in doubt, check the support page for your specific keyboard, and you'll find tutorials on how to get it done.
Your mileage may vary with these, as I've found certain programs to be jankier than others in the past. But if you already have it on your system, it may be able to do exactly what you want without installing any other software, so give it a shot.
If neither of the above options suit your needs, you can create powerful hotkeys with AutoHotkey, a free program that comes with its own little scripting language for you to describe the actions you want your hotkeys to take. It's a bit more difficult to use than the software you get with gaming keyboards, but if your keyboard doesn't come with its own remapping program, it's your next best bet.
After installing AutoHotkey, create your hotkeys by right-clicking anywhere in File Explorer and choosing New > AutoHotkey Script. Right-click on the resulting file and open it in Notepad.
Create basic hotkeys by adding a line like this:
This remaps Caps Lock to the right Windows key. You can add a comment above it using a semicolon (;) to remind you of what that hotkey does or why.
Again, SharpKeys is a better choice for a simple remapping like this, but let's say you wanted to do something slightly more complicated, like remap Caps Lock toCtrl + Shift + Esc, so you can see the Windows Task Manager with one keypress. You would create a line in your script like this:
Where ^ corresponds to Ctrl and + to Shift, as described here.
This is where AutoHotkey becomes more powerful. You can create hotkeys to type certain lines of text, run a program or batch file, or create shortcuts for specific programs. You can even have one hotkey perform multiple actions in a series, giving you robust control over your shortcuts.
Once you've finished adding your hotkeys to the script, save the file and double-click on it. This will launch AutoHotkey in the system tray, and it will run in the background interpreting your hotkeys for you. You can quit the program at any time to set your keys back to their default actions.
(I recommend adding your .ahk script to Windows' startup folder, located at %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup, so it will automatically run every time you turn on your computer.)
There's more to AutoHotkey than we could ever fit into one small article, so check out the AutoHotkey documentation and forums for more advanced instructions and ideas. If you can imagine it, there's almost certainly a way to make AutoHotkey do it.
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