The death of the Caps Lock key
(or a keyboard remap for writers)

There is nothing worse than looking up in the middle of writing to find that the text is ALL IN CAPITALS. I know used the Caps Lock to enter a model name a page ago, but just because I forgot to tap it again it seems unfair to transform my beautiful words into unreadable ugliness.

Maybe it’s time to kill Caps Lock, forget it ever existed , and use the key for something more useful. Come to think of it why is the Scroll Lock unused and just how often does the Print Screen get pressed.

There are plenty of little programs that could be started with Windows, but I didn’t want yet another utility delaying startup. I remembered that Windows Registry could be used quite powerful. So after quick visit to Ms Google,  some trial and error, and a few minutes with notepad here are a few changes to the way the keyboard is mapped. I hope that you find the changes useful.

The keys are remapped as follows:

Caps Lock > Internet Opens a new window of your default browser (if not running or selected) or takes your tab back to your home page if you’re currently in the browser

Print Screen > Search Takes you to the search function for each application, so on Windows XP desktop this is file search, for browsers this is normally a web search, and in Word etc this is the find text function

Scroll Lock > Mute Press Scroll Lock to mute all audio and press again to unmute The file has been tested on XP Home (Chinese version), XP Professional, and Windows 7, but will work on Vista and 2000

 

Instructions for using the keyboard remap file:

  1. Download the file
  2. Double click on the file
  3. Read the warning and click on Yes
  4. Click on Ok
  5. Restart Windows

Note: If you’re worried about incorporating it into your registry please don’t be, just look at the file in notepad and read the  description below which explains what each part does. You can view the file in Notepad by selecting the file then right clicking and choosing  Edit in menu.

#Download keyboard remap for writers file here

Because some people do use Print Screen there are two additional files without Print Screen :

#Caps Lock > Internet  + Scroll Lock > Mute

#Caps Lock > Internet  + Scroll Lock > Search

#Undo File

To Undo -follow the above instructions using this file and all will be undone (if only life had an undo file). The same file works no matter which of the above files you used

Oh and before we go any further I should state that all this little reg file does is to remap keys to functions that are built into some keyboards as defined by Microsoft. In other words there isn’t any flexibility in its behavior, if MS thought that a search key should do something then that’s exactly what it does.

 

How does the reg file work?

As with all registry changes please be careful if you edit this file, and do be aware of what .reg files do before allowing them to be incorporated into the registry. As a technical copywriter I’m always searching simple solutions to dealing with complexity, this is as simple as it gets –  it just tells Windows that three keys on your keyboard are three different keys This is all it contains

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

“Scancode Map”=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,

04,00,00,00,32,E0,3A,00,65,E0,37,E0,20,E0,46,00,00,00,00

 

Which means

Hello I’m a registry file Change this entry “Name of  entry” =

Header, Flags, Number of remaps, Remap 1, Remap 2, Remap 3, Null terminator

Here is a blank line

 

The key remaps in more detail:

  • The first line Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 identifies the file as a registry file
  • This is the registry entry we’re changing (this could be changed to HKEY_CURRENT_USER if you only wished to modify the keyboard of one user and you’re not using Windows 7)
  • “Scancode Map”=hex: We need to remap the scan codes for the keys and it’s being done in hexadecimal
  • 00,00,00,00 this is the header (leave it as four 00s)
  • 00,00,00,00, these are flags (also leave them as four 00s)
  • 04,00,00,00 now we get to have some fun, this is the number of pairs that we will remap starting with 02,00,00,00 for just one pair,  03,00,00,00 for two, 04,00,00,00 for three  etc
  • 32,E0,3A,00 the first remap all the remaps are in the format 2-byte target, 2-byte original and we want the Caps Lock key (3a,00) to become the Web key (scan code 32,E0) so Caps Lock,Web
  • 65,E0,37,E0 the second remap Print Screen key (37,E0) maps to the Search key (65,E0)
  • E0,20,E0,46 for the final pair the Scroll Lock key (E0,46) is remapped to the Mute key (E0,20)
  • 00,00,00,00,00 time to say goodbye, this is the null terminator  (leave it as four 00s)
  • (a blank line) you can’t see this, but there is a blank line, not sure if it’s necessary

 

Note: If you want a key to do nothing just map it to 00,00, US Netizen below has quite a good list of scan codes for other keys. One limitation of keyboard remapping appears to be that it doesn’t seem to be able to remap the Pause/Break key. Maybe I’m wrong on that and if I’m not it’s quite understandable given the key’s traditional role, but it would be nice for Pause to pause playback or mute sound.

 

Thank you to: