SharpKeys: Easily and quickly remap your keyboard keys (change what each key does when pressed)

2009-12-17_174049Are you constantly hitting Caps Lock while typing? Have you ever hit the Windows key while playing a game and end up paying the ultimate price because of it? Do you want to play a cruel joke on someone? Sounds like SharpKeys may be a program you want to look into.

SharpKeys is a clever program that utilizes registry hacks to allow users to remap their keyboard keys. (Turn off a key or make a key do what a different key is supposed to do.)

Using SharpKeys is very easy. You run the program, and add all the remappings you desire (you can remap as many keys as you want). Once you have remapped to your heart’s content, you need to tell SharpKeys to “Write to Registry”, and then restart your computer or logoff and log back in. Once you have restarted/logged back in, the keys you remapped will start performing the new functions you assigned them. If you ever want to re-remap or undo the remapping you have done, all you need to do is run SharpKeys, edit or delete the remapping you want to change or undo, tell SharpKeys to “Write to Registry”, and then restart your computer or logoff and log back in.

SharpKeys provides you with an extensive list of keys you can select from to remap:

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Just select the key you want to change from the left, and select the key you want to change it to from the right. If you are not sure what the name of the key is that you want to change/change to, you can click on the “Type Key” button. “Type Key” allows you to press the key on your keyboard and SharpKeys will detect and automatically select it for you (after you hit “OK”):

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The cool thing about SharpKeys is it is open source. So if you find SharpKeys does not support one or two keys on your computer and you have the programming skills to do so, you can modify SharpKeys and add in support for those non-supported keys.

Since SharpKeys does explicitly edit your registry, be sure to make a registry backup and follow other precautionary tips mentioned in Samuel’s article on registry hacks before playing around with SharpKeys. However, when used properly SharpKeys can be a very useful – and mildly entertaining depending on what you use it for – tool. You can grab SharpKeys from the following links:

Version reviewed: v3.0

Supported OS: Windows/2000/XP/Server 2003/Vista/Win7

NOTE: When you SharpKeys for the first time it tells you that you need to be running Windows 2000/Server 2003/XP. This is incorrect. The latest version of SharpKeys also supports Windows Vista and Win7.

Download size: 364 KB for installer and 21.3 KB for portable version

Special requirements: .NET Framework v2.0

SharpKeys homepage

SharpKeys CodePlex page

[Direct download]

[Direct download - portable version]

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10 comments

  1. Blue

    A very cool alternative is TapTap Hotkey Extender from Donation Coder. It redefines *double taps* of the ctrl, alt, shift, & win keys. For instance, I’ve defined a double-tap of the left shift as bold, double-tap of the left alt as underline, etc.

  2. IndoMK

    Would a key mapping software like one of these mentioned be able to help me make a half-qwerty keyboard setup (where one hand’s worth of keys are remapped to the other hand’s jurisdiction, with the space bar as the modifier)?

  3. Rob

    A common problem is the accidental turning on of Capslock. There are those that will ‘pluck out the eye that offends thee’ by either turning it off, or remapping it. However I believe the key has a purpose, and should be kept as is.
    I believe that the correct description of that problem is – ‘How do I know that it is stll on’
    Has anyone come across a proper solution to that problem ?
    For example a program that –
    – Turns the Taskbar red whilst Capslock is on
    – Or, replaces the Start button (image) with some Red alternative image
    – Or floats a red message 1/2 inch above the Sys Tray

    I am currently using Shock LED
    http://www.docs.kr/entry/Products-Shock-LED-en
    But it is a bit flaky, and the message gets obscured behind the taskbar
    I cannot see it on the author’s web site –
    http://www.docs.kr/
    So perhaps he realizes it is flaky ?

  4. Harlan

    Neither SharpKeys nor KeyTweak is being actively developed. SharpKeys was turned over to CodePlex in December 2008 and the only activity since has been a single unanswered request in the comments area. KeyTweak appears to be very similar in functionality (even the FAQs are nearly the same), and has had no apparent activity since January 2009. I am a little nervous about using software that has been “dead-ended,” but, unlike hardware, software never wears out! Anyway, KeyTweak works well for me using a normal keyboard and also works well without any setup changes with my laptop keyboard.

  5. Harlan

    I also use KeyTweak, and it works well under WinXP. I remap my CapsLock to Tab, my NumLock to =, and my ScrollLock to ,. I’ve used it so long I forgot it was there until I read this.

    Let me join everyone else in thanking you for all of your work. Like a lot of people, I check here before looking at GAOTD, and I put great value on your (and your helpers’) opinions on software and other computer-related matters.

    Merry Christmas.