How to reassign keys on any keyboard | TechBuzz

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The behavior of the keyboard of our computers can be modified, up to a certain point, whatever the OS. Here’s how.

You may not know it, but you don’t have to live with the default behavior of the keys on your keyboard. If you want them to behave differently, it is possible to customize the thing. Here’s how to do it depending on whether you have a Windows, macOS or Chrome OS machine.


Microsoft’s PowerToys tool is the best option for doing this on Windows and you can download it here. PowerToys bundles several utilities. We are interested today in the Keyboard Manager.

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If you select “Open Settings”, you can start changing the behavior of your keys. With the “Enable Keyboard Manager” button activated, click on “Remap a key”. Specify the physical key on the keyboard and the key(s) you want to press, either by selecting from the list or by tapping directly on the keyboard.

The tool supports everything from simple keystrokes to complex combinations to function (Fn) keys. For shortcuts, you’ll need to choose “Remap a shortcut” on the main screen rather than “Remap a key”, but the operation is the same.

There are also other alternatives, such as AutoHotKey, a little more complex, but more powerful, allowing you to go as far as launching applications or filling out forms. There’s also WinHotKey, which is older, but works fine on recent versions of Windows.


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There is a native utility to do this, but it only handles shortcuts, not single keys. Open the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences and then Keyboard & Shortcuts. You will then see the shortcuts currently in place, organized by category, and you can activate or deactivate them one by one.

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To change one, click on the current key combination and then on the desired new one. If you attempt to assign an already defined shortcut, you will see a warning with a yellow exclamation mark. To undo the changes, click “Restore Default Settings”.

With a third-party application, you can go further. Remap Keyboard, €6.54 (a free trial version exists), is probably your best bet. Click on the + in the lower left corner to create a new mapping, tap on the current key and then on the key or shortcut you want to execute.

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To go even further, Alfred – free, but you need the Powerpack extension at £34 for v4 or £59 for all lifetime updates – is a complete productivity app, including key reassignment. Another option, Keyboard Maestro, which goes even further, with the possibility of launching programs or macros – free trial version, $43.20 including tax otherwise -.

Chrome OS

Keyboards on Chromebook machines already have behaviors of their own, but you don’t have to put up with it. Unfortunately, Chrome OS is still relatively young, so you have to make do with what Google offers in its OS and you can’t install third-party tools.

Click the clock in the lower right corner, then click the gear icon to open Chrome OS Settings. Then choose Device then Keyboard. There you have several options. You can set the repeat rate or change the keyboard language. The reassignment options are listed at the top of the screen and these are the only possible customization options.

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Choose from the list to reassign the function of the key. For example, you can click on the entry for Launcher and change to the Lock key. Shift, if you want. If you don’t like the behaviors of Ctrl and Alt, you can change them, or even turn them off. The Assistant button can also be changed.

You can also activate the option “Treat top row keys as function keys” which, as the name suggests, allows you to activate the functions behind the Fn keys by default, rather than having to use the shortcut .

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