Hardware

How do I ... remap my keyboard with KeyTweak?

For the power user nothing equals efficiency like having your keyboard keys mapped in just the right way for your particular needs. Jack Wallen explains how to use KeyTweak to map the keys on your keyboard just they way you want them.

For the power user, nothing equals efficiency like having your keyboard keys mapped in just the right way for your particular needs. Say, for example, you would rather the Caps Lock key function as the Delete key (it would mean, in many instances, the Delete key would be within reach of the pinky without moving your hands), with KeyTweak this is possible. Or say you have taken your keyboard apart (for whatever reason) and cannot remember what each key does (it could happen). With KeyTweak you can quickly find out what key does what with the click of a button.

Before we get started with this, I will say that KeyTweak cannot combine keys. So your hopes of getting Ctrl-Alt-Delete mapped to a single key press are lost. KeyTweak also cannot affect either the Function keys on laptops or the Pause/Break key. It is also worth noting that KeyTweak changes are global, so they will affect all users on a system. And finally, any changes made by KeyTweak require a reboot to take effect. With all of that in mind, let's see how KeyTweak works.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

Getting and installing

As per usual, installing KeyTweak is just a matter of downloading the installation binary from the creators' (Travis Krumsick) KeyTweak Web site. Once you have the file downloaded, double-click the file to install it. Once the installation is complete, you will find the application binary in the KeyTweak submenu of the Start Menu. To start the application, click on the KeyTweak entry in the KeyTweak menu.

The main window

The main window consists of a menu bar, a Remapping section, Keyboard Control section, Specialty Buttons section, Pending Changes section, and buttons to toggle full and half teaching modes (Figure A).

Figure A

The mapped keyboard is not specific to your keyboard but is universal.

Here is a brief description of each section.

  • Remapping: The remapping section includes a listing of currently remapped keys, a virtual keyboard, and buttons to restore defaults and Raw Map display.
  • Keyboard Control: The keyboard control is where you will select the new remapping for a chosen key. This is done via a drop-down list and a Remap button.
  • Specialty Buttons: This section allows you to remap any specialty buttons that are available on your keyboard.
  • Pending Changes: This shows any changes that will take affect upon next reboot.
  • Half/Full Teaching Mode Buttons: By toggling either of these buttons you will be switched to its respective mode of teaching.

Remapping a key

Let's stick with our introductory example. What we are going to do is remap the Caps Lock key to function as the Delete key. Once you know how to do this, you can apply it to any change you want to make.

The first thing you need to do is to select the Caps Lock key on the virtual keyboard. That key should be numbered "30." Once you click the "30" key, you will see it listed in the Keyboard Controls section, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

If you aren't sure which key you clicked, you will know as soon as you check out the Keyboard Controls section.
Now, from the Choose New Remapping drop-down list, select Delete and then click Remap Key. Once you have clicked the Remap Key button, you will see this remapping appear in the Pending Changes section (Figure C).

Figure C

You can stop the remapping at this point by clicking the Clear All button.

Now click on the Apply button to apply the change. As stated earlier, the change will not take place until the machine is rebooted.

Full teach mode

The full teach mode is really just another method of achieving the same goal. When you click the Full Teach mode, a new window (Figure D) will open. This new window allows you to select a key for one slot (#1) and a second key for another slot (#2) and then remap #1 to #2.

Figure D

This is the full teach mode.

So sticking with our example you would first click the Begin Teach Mode button, which will automatically highlight the Key #1 section. Click the key you want to remap (for our example it would be the Caps Lock key) and then the #2 section will automatically highlight. Click the Delete key and then, to finalize the remapping selection, click the Remap Key button. Once you click the Remap Key button, the Full Teach mode window will go away.

Half teach mode

To be honest I am not quite sure why the half teach mode is necessary, because this pretty much re-creates what is already on the screen. You select a key, choose where the key is to be remapped to from a drop-down list, and then click the Remap button. To me that is too similar to the default method of remapping in the main window to be necessary.

Special buttons

Of course this section will apply only to those keyboards that include such buttons. For example, not all keyboards have a WWW Home key. But if your keyboard does include that button you're in luck, because you can remap it!

Final thoughts

There have been many occasions when I have wanted to remap keys on my Windows keyboard. But not being a registry pro I didn't have the skill to do this. Now, with KeyTweak, I don't need to have epic skills with the registry to remap a Windows keyboard. This piece of "donation ware" is very much worth the price of admission.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
adj1
adj1

Hi, this looks very useful. However I use (at least) three different language keyboards regularly. What I most want to do is to remap the French full stop (or 'period') key, which bizarrely needs a shift to upper case (may explain something about some French writers' long-windedness). However will that remapping carry through to the other languages (English, Danish, German, etc.) that I use - or is there another way round this please ? Grateful for any help

rico001979
rico001979

I recently wanted to remap the keys on my keyboard so I tried keytweak but it required a reboot after remapping the keyboard. So to reload the registry without rebooting you just have to close and restart explorer.exe Here is how to make a batch file that does this: 1) First create a new text file. 2) Rename this text file to reload.bat 3) Right-click the file reload.bat and choose edit 4) Then type the two lines with start explorer.exe on the second line: TASKKILL /F /IM "explorer.exe" start explorer.exe 5) After that save and close reload.bat Restarting Explorer wouldn't help??

gerard.belleville
gerard.belleville

Can we assign other language specialty keys to this download. sitting over in Europe using our English keyboard then attempting to figure out how to type a umlaut is a problem. I do not want to always change the keyboard just type a specific letter. Any Ideas out there

macgvr
macgvr

It can cause havoc when trying to use rdesktop to another computer. I no longer use this because it caused a problem when I was remotely viewing my server and a tech support person was accessing my computer remotely. We were trying to resolve a server problem. I have forgotten the exact problem but it required mapping the keys back to their normal function and that required a reboot to accomplish. Very frustrating. As much as I liked not having a Caps Lock key to annoy me it wasn't worth the aggravation caused when I had to revert back when things didn't work right.

hcgriffith
hcgriffith

I used Remapkey in an attempt to change a UK keyboard's numbers (above the letters) so that the @ symbol appeared above the number 2. Unfortunately that program remapped the number as well as the shifted symbol. Also, I would like to swap the underscore and the dash so that you could underscore without using the Shift key.

ricardoc
ricardoc

What about assigning frequently used text to keys? Like for example you usually need to write your email address in web forms, or your mail address, etc. Is there a way to that with this software?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

There are a few keys I like to remap on my workstation because it makes it easier to use Word for writing blog posts. What about you? What keys do you remap on your keyboards and why?

proeme
proeme

If it is for Western European letters not used in English it will suffice to have the keyboard "United States-International" installed. You will find these letters by using AltGr or Ctrl+Alt in combination with letter keys. Thus the umlauts (AOU) are "hidden" under QPY. If your needs go further than what is provided by the keyboard "United States-International" the program MSKLC (Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator) will be helpful. MSKLC is free and can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. It allows you to define your own keyboard that can be used alongside with the standard keyboards provided by Windows. It even allows the use of dead keys and that really extends the possibilities of a single keyboard enormously. MSKLC does not allow to alter the function of keys like Insert or CapsLock, so if you want to do that KeyTweak may be useful, as long as you bear in mind that every user of your computer will be stuck with the changes brought about with KeyTweak.

robo_dev
robo_dev

so much more logical than that silly QWERTY thing.... :)