Turning off the Caps Lock Key in Windows 7

I just started a new job and received a brand new laptop running Windows 7 as part of my Welcome Aboard.   Needless to say its taking me a couple of days to get all my software loaded and set up.  In setting up my laptop, one of the things I like to do is to shut off my Caps Lock key.

I don't know how many times I've hit the Caps Lock key by mistake, and didn't know it for a a bit.  Most of the time this is an annoyance, as you have to back track and re-type something you've just typed.  When your coding, upper or lower case is important and may give you an unexpected bug to track down.  Windows in its infinite wisdom has made it possible for you to turn off the Caps Lock key, if it bothers you, like it bothers me.

How NOT to Turn Off your Cap Lock Key

What Microsoft has done is put the keyboard in the Registry.  You can change the Registry, and change any key to do something else, but before you say forget it, I'm not messing with the Registry, that's too complicated, hang with me a little bit.

If you search on "How to turn off the Caps Lock Key" on the Internet, you'll find quite a few articles on how to go into the Registry's Keyboard Layout, and change a number like this:

00000000 00000000 02000000 00003A00 00000000

with detailed information as to the location of the number, and what numbers in the above string need to be changed.

Well, I can do that, and it would not have been the first time I've mucked in the Registry with Regedit, but if you're like me, I recoiled at going in there, and doing this manually.   With a long number like this, it's too easy to mess up, and I would feel quesy if I told a reader to do this, and they messed up the process, or hosed their keyboard.  So I went in search of a tool that would automate the process and take care of updating the Registry for me.

Micorsoft has a utility that does this, but you have to download a whole suite of tools, instead of just one.   I found one that I liked called, KeyTweak, that did the job quickly and easily.  You can download it here.  Don't let the bare window scare you, if you click on the .exe,  you'll find your download window will open for you to save the program to your computer.  I recommend you also open and save the short eight page KeyTweak pdf manual, you'll also find on the download page.

If you don't want to read the eight pages, follow along and I'll walk you through how to change your Caps Lock key to Left Shift.

Download and click on KeyTweak.exe in the download window.  This will install KeyTweak on your system.  Go to START>All Programs>Key Tweak and the program will start.  It looks like the image below.  The CapLocks key is key 30 on the keyboard map, click on it, and it will be selected.  You'll notice in the Keyboard Control area it shows up.  Click on the "Choose New Remapping" drop down and select "Left Shift".  Click on "Remap Key" and  you'll see it in the Pending Changes box.  The other change that will happen is your Apply button will become active.  Click on the Apply button, and your Registry will be updated.  You're almost done.

The KeyTweak screen

Since you changed your Registry, and Windows reads the Registry on start up, the next time you start your computer, or restart your computer, you'll find your Caps Lock key is now a Left Shift key.  KeyTweak is a niffty little program that will allow you to map any key to anything you want.   A word of caution though, DO NOT go crazy and remap keys that the operating system uses, like the Windows key, the Ctrl key, the Alt key, and especially the Enter key.  If you do something like this you may find on reboot that you may have to reload the entire operating system to get your system back to normal.

If you'd like to make something happen, like start a program, or open a browser and go to a particular web site, when you press a key combination, I highly recommend the AutoHotKey program.   See my article on AutoHotKey here.  This program has become a favorite of mine. Enjoy.

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