How to Remap Your Keyboard With KeyTweak

There are two piece of hardware that almost every computer user works with on a daily basis – a keyboard and mouse. A keyboard is not just used for typing; it can also be used to interact with programs with keyboard shortcuts.

It is likely that you are working with a keyboard that has a standard QWERTY layout, but this does not mean that you are stuck with it. Using KeyTweak, you can change the function of any of the keys to do something else.

 

Changing the function of individual keys is a process known as remapping and is something that can be achieved fairly easily – and perhaps most importantly, for free – with KeyTweak. You can grab yourself a copy of the program by visiting the rather basic software web site (http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick/) and clicking the link to download the file to your hard drive.

Once the download is complete – the program is tiny so this will only take a moment – you can run through the installation in the usual way and then you’re ready to get started with the customization of your keyboard layout.

Getting Started with KeyTweak’s interface

Launch the program from the Start menu and click Yes if a User Account Control dialog is displayed. You will see a graphical representation of your keyboard in the program window and you should see – assuming that this is the first and only key remapping tool you have – that the Remapped keys currently in effect box houses the word None.

KeyTweak gives you an on-screen virtual keyboard to work with

KeyTweak gives you an on-screen virtual keyboard to work with

To the right of the main keyboard you will see a series of special buttons. These may not be found on your real-life keyboard, but if you have a multimedia keyboard, you may well recognize some of the symbols for controlling music playback.

Disabling Unwanted Keys

You have almost certainly accidentally tapped a key on your keyboard and wished that the offending button was not there. In some instances, it may be possible to live without the key and KeyTweak gives you the option of disabling such keys.

For example, your keyboard probably has two Windows keys and you may have found that while the left one is used quite frequently, the right one is only used when it is knocked by accident; this key is a perfect candidate for disabling.

On the virtual keyboard, click the key you are interested in – in this case it is key 63. You will notice that the current mapping is highlighted below the keyboard. To remove any functionality from this unwanted key, just click the Disable Key button.

Keys you don't want to use can be easily disabled

Keys you don't want to use can be easily disabled

Changing the Function of Keys

You may well have keys on your keyboard that are simply never used. If such keys seem like a waste of space to you, the remapping function comes in fantastically handy. Remapping is also great if you find the positioning of a particular key to be a little awkward. You could, for instance, choose to swap the functions of your right Ctrl and Shift keys to make them easier to use.

Remapping keys is very simple. On the virtual keyboard, click the key you would like to edit and then make a new selection from the Choose New Remapping menu. Having made your selection, just click the Remap Key button and continue with any other changes you want to make.

The function of keys can be changed to that of any other on your keyboard

The function of keys can be changed to that of any other on your keyboard

Managing Changes

This process can be repeated with as many keys as you like, and as you disable or remap keys you will see that a list builds up in the Pending Changes box to the lower right of the window. If you are happy with all of the changes you have selected you can go ahead and click the Apply button, but you do have the opportunity to change your mind.

You can opt to undo all of the pending changing you have made by simply clicking the Clear All button, but you also have the option of selecting individual items from the list and clicking the Clear button.

Changed your mind about a change? Just hit Clear to undo it

Changed your mind about a change? Just hit Clear to undo it

In order for the changes you have made to be fully applied, you will need to restart your computer. When you are given the chance to restart Windows, click the Yes button to do so.

After putting tweaks in place, you'll need to restart Windows for them to work

After putting tweaks in place, you'll need to restart Windows for them to work

Using Teaching Mode

If you have a slightly unusual keyboard, you may find that it is awkward to use the virtual keyboard when remapping. If this is the case, try clicking the Half Teach Mode button towards the bottom of the dialog and then click the Scan a Single Key button.

Press the key on your keyboard that you would like to change and it will be recognized by KeyTweak. You can then use the drop down menu to select the new function for the key and click the Remap button.

KeyTweak can also detect key presses as well as working with the virtual keyboard

KeyTweak can also detect key presses as well as working with the virtual keyboard

Restoring Defaults

If you decide that you no longer need you keyboard to be remapped, or you get a little carried away and think that it would be easier to start from scratch than it would be to undo all of the changes you’ve made, your old settings are not far away. To get your keyboard back to its usual state, just hit the Restore All Defaults button.

Just as when you make other changes to key mapping, if you opt to restore the default settings, you will again need to restart Windows – just click Yes and this will be done for you.

Whether remapping or restoring defaults, a restart is necessary to put settings in place

Whether remapping or restoring defaults, a restart is necessary to put settings in place

Whether you’re looking to make your keyboard better suited to your style of typing, or need to compensate for a poor layout that makes gaming or other keyboard tasks a chore, KeyTweak enables you to get things working in a way that is tailored perfectly to you.


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