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 instead of three, there are a few ways to remap those commands.
Thanks to a variety of free software options, you can set individual keys to new functions or remap complex button combinations into simplified single-button presses. The option you choose comes down to your comfort level dealing with third-party software and how complex your solution needs to be.
Remap Keys and Shortcuts With PowerToys
Don't trust a third-party developer? The easiest way to remap your keyboard is through Microsoft PowerToys, a set of utilities (including keyboard customization) designed for power users. Install the program from its GitHub page(Opens in a new window) and open the Power Toys Settings page from the Windows System Tray.
Click Keyboard Manager, then select Remap a key to re-assign individual keys or Remap a shortcut to assign hotkey combinations to a single key. Click the + button, then set the key and map it to a specific action. So instead of hitting Ctrl + C to copy, you can assign that shortcut to the left Alt button on your keyboard.
Add as many remapped keys or shortcuts as you need, then click OK at the top of the page to save the changes. If you ever want to remove any, just click the trash can icon next to the listing and delete it.
Switch Individual Keys With SharpKeys
If you merely want to remap one key to another,SharpKeys(Opens in a new window)is a simple, open-source program that uses the Windows registry. This makes it the best option for these kinds of one-to-one key remappings. You don't need 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 from the Microsoft Store(Opens in a new window) and start it up. To remap a key, click the Add button 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 the Type Key button and press a key on your keyboard if you have trouble hunting it down in the list. When you're done, click OK. Repeat this process for any other remappings, then click theWrite to Registrybutton. 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.
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.
Customize Hotkeys With Your Keyboard's Software
Logitech's Gaming Software
If your keyboard comes with advanced software, likeLogitech's Gaming Software(Opens in a new window),Corsair's iCUE(Opens in a new window), orRazer's Synapse(Opens in a new window), 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 to 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.
Create Complex Scripts With AutoHotkey
If neither of the above options suit your needs, you can create powerful hotkeys withAutoHotkey(Opens in a new window), 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 withgaming 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 choosingNew > 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.
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 remap Ctrl + Shift + Esc to Caps Lock, so you can see the 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(Opens in a new window).
This is where AutoHotkey becomes more powerful. You can create hotkeys totype certain lines of text(Opens in a new window),run a program or batch file(Opens in a new window), orcreate shortcuts for specific programs(Opens in a new window). 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. Just 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 theAutoHotkey documentation(Opens in a new window)andforums(Opens in a new window)for more advanced instructions and ideas. If you can imagine it, there's almost certainly a way to make AutoHotkey do it.
Reassign Simple Shortcuts on a Mac Keyboard
If you want to customize existing keyboard shortcuts on a Mac, open System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts. You can then browse through existing shortcuts for taking a screenshot, showing the desktop, using accessibility options, and more. To make a change, double-click on the current keys for a specific action, then press the new configuration on your keyboard.
Your new action must use the Control, Option, or Command key. So for instance, if you want to change how you open the screenshot menu, select Screenshots and double-click the keyboard shortcut next to Screenshot and recording options. You can then change the Shift + Command + 5 shortcut to something simpler like Option + Z.
For one-button shortcuts, turn to the function key. Check the box next to Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys on the Keyboard settings page, then open the Shortcuts tab and set a function key to perform a certain action with a single button. Instead of using Function + F1, you can now just press F1 to take screenshots.
If your new shortcut is being used by a different action, macOS will warn you about an issue. You can also disable actions by unchecking the box next to it. Unfortunately, you won't be able to turn one key into another or create custom shortcuts like you can with some Windows programs. For more powerful options, you can turn to the free programs Karabiner-Elements(Opens in a new window) and FunctionFlip(Opens in a new window).
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To reassign a key
Connect the keyboard that you want to configure. Select the Start button, and then select Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. From the displayed list of key names, select the key that you want to reassign. In the command list of the key that you want to reassign, select a command.
- Copy: Ctrl + C.
- Cut: Ctrl + X.
- Paste: Ctrl + V.
- Maximize Window: F11 or Windows logo key + Up arrow.
- Open Task View: Windows logo key + Tab.
- Display and hide the desktop: Windows logo key + D.
- Switch between open apps: Alt + Tab.
- Open the Quick Link menu: Windows logo key + X.
- Alt + F--File menu options in the current program.
- Alt + E--Edits options in the current program.
- F1--Universal help (for any sort of program).
- Ctrl + A--Selects all text.
- Ctrl + X--Cuts the selected item.
- Ctrl + Del--Cut selected item.
- Ctrl + C--Copy the selected item.
First, download KeyTweak, a small, easy to use keyboard remapper. Run the installation exe and then go to the start menu, all programs, and run Key Tweak. The KeyTweak window will show an image of the keyboard. Select the key you wish to remap (as you hover over it KeyTweak will reveal its current mapping).Can you make your own keyboard shortcuts? ›
Create keyboard shortcuts with Windows
Building a new keyboard shortcut to a program, file, or folder in Windows is easy. In File Explorer, right-click on whatever you want to open with your keyboard combination, and choose Create shortcut.
To swap the CTRL and ALT keys you need four entries (plus null). The Left Left-CTRL (1d 00), the Left Left-ALT (38 00), the Right-CTRL (1d e0), and the Right-ALT (38 e0). Execute (double click) the . reg file and log out and back in (or restart your computer).What are the 100+ shortcut keys? ›
- WORD® SHORTCUT KEYS.
- Ctrl + A Select all contents of the page.
- Ctrl + B Bold highlighted selection.
- Ctrl + C Copy selected text.
- Ctrl + X Cut selected text.
- Ctrl + N Open new/blank document.
- Ctrl + O Open options.
- Ctrl + P Open the print window.
- Ctrl+W: Close.
- Ctrl+A: Select all.
- Alt+Tab: Switch apps.
- Alt+F4: Close apps.
- Win+D: Show or hide the desktop.
- Win+left arrow or Win+right arrow: Snap windows.
- Win+Tab: Open the Task view.
- Tab and Shift+Tab: Move backwards and forward through options. etc.
The function keys or F-keys on a computer keyboard, labeled F1 through F12, are keys that have a special function defined by the operating system, or by a currently running program. They may be combined with the Alt or Ctrl keys.What are the 9 special keys? ›
- Ctrl-S - save.
- Ctrl-O - open.
- Ctrl-N - new.
- Ctrl-C - copy.
- Ctrl-V - paste.
- Ctrl-X - cut.
- Ctrl-Z - undo.
- Ctrl-A - select all.
- F1 – Opens the Help screen for almost every program.
- F2 – Allows you to rename a selected file or folder.
- F3 – Opens a search feature for an application that is active at the moment.
- F4 – Alt + F4 closes the active window.
What do Alt and F4 do? Pressing the Alt and F4 keys together is a keyboard shortcut to close the currently active window. For example, if you press this keyboard shortcut while playing a game, the game window will close immediately.What does Ctrl +F mean? ›
"Control+F" (or "Command+F" on a Mac) is the keyboard shortcut for the Find command. If you're in a document or in a web browser, pressing the Ctrl key + the F key will bring up a search box in the top right corner of the screen.What does Ctrl plus Z mean? ›
Undo. CTRL+Z. To reverse your last action, press CTRL+Z. You can reverse more than one action.What does Ctrl A to Z? ›
Ctrl + A → Select all content. Ctrl + Z → Undo an action. Ctrl + Y → Redo an action. Ctrl + D → Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin.