[Review] KeyExtender

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

KeyExtender

Version reviewed:

v3.98

Supported OS:

Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP

Price:

$19.95 (USD) but you can get it for free for a limited time at Giveawayoftheday.com!

Software description as per the developer:

Dose some of your keyboard keys(such as F1-F12) lay idle for a long time? if your answer is yes, you should take a look at KeyExtender. It can not only allow you to customize your keyboard layout (redefine you keyboard key position), but also help you save your time and increase productivity on daily computing.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Allows users to remap any keyboard key to any keyboard key (based on a standard keyboard).
  • In addition to remapping individual keys to individual keys, allows users to map keys to do other tasks, such as insert predefined text, clean text, simulate a sequence of keypresses, make one key do the work of multiple key keyboard shortcut, etc.
  • Supports remapping of “multimedia” keys in addition to the standard keyboard keys.
  • Users can suspend/activate the program at will.
  • Users can save/load settings at will.
  • Has a feature which allows users to disable the keyboard.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Windows 7 users (and Windows Vista?) must either run the program in compatibility mode or restart computer after installation.
  • The program manual claims KeyExtender is able to remap keys to the registry (instead of remapping at the program level) but there is no clear way on how to do this.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”10″}Very easy to use; pretty much point and click.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”8″}For the most part, KeyExtender works very well. There are only two major problems I found in terms of performance: 1) The program manual claims KeyExtender can remap keys at the registry level, but there is no clear way on how to do this; at least I was unable to find it and 2) The RAM usage can be improved.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”6″}If this was a full blown keyboard shortcuts and remapping tool, I could see this being useful to everyone. However, as it is stands it is just a remapping tool with some basic shortcut features. So, hit or miss usefulness for the most part.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}$19.95 is a fair price. However, if I were a potential customer looking to buy this software, I would want some more features added before purchasing (such as keyboard shortcut creating features).
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”7″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect dotTech’s overall rating/verdict of the program in which all the features and alternatives have been considered.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tup]
{/rw_verdict} –>

KeyExtender is a program that allows users to remap their keyboard keys. It works off a standard keyboard (104 keys I believe if the Windows keys are counted), but also adds in the ability to remap multimedia keys. Aside from remapping single keys to other single keys, KeyExtender also allows users to remap keys to do other things also, such as insert text, clean text, simulate a keypress sequence, and to make one key do the work of a full shortcut.

This is what the main program window looks like:

Using KeyExtender is very straightforward and easy. To remap a single key to another single key, simply select the key you want to remap from the “Set” drop down menu, select the key you want to remap to from the “To” drop down menu, and hit the “Change” button. Do this for as many keys as you want to remap; when ready just hit the “Activate” button which will minimize KeyExtender to your system tray and tell it to start working. When you want to remove/reset a key remape, “Reset Key” will delete the remap of a specific key, while “Reset All” will do all the keys.

These are all the keys you can select from the “Set” drop down menu:

These are all the keys you can select from the “To” drop down menu”:

(NOTE: The “…” button simply provides a different way to select keys for the “To” menu.)

As you can see from the above screenshot, in addition to being able to select standard and multimedia keys, KeyExtender also allows users to remap keys to perform specific actions:

  • DisableKey – this, obviously, disables the key you selected in “Set”.
  • TypeText – this feature allows users to predefine specific text…

…and that text is inserted whenever the user presses the key selected in “Set”.

  • CleanText – this feature makes it so when the key selected in “Set” is pressed, all the text is deleted that you have typed.
  • KeyCombination – this feature allows users to set the key selected in “Set” to perform the function of a keyboard shortcut:

  • KeySequence – this feature makes it so when the key selected in “Set” is pressed, a sequence of user defined keypresses are simulated:

The main difference between “KeyCombination” and “KeySequence” is that KeyCombination makes it so a combination of keys is simulated at the same time. On the other hand, KeySequence makes it so keys are simulated one after another – not at the same time. All the keys that can be selected for the “Set” drop menu can be selected for KeySequence.

Other things to note about KeyExtender:

  • When you click on the “Set” or “To” menus, you may type a key on your keyboard to quickly find it as opposed to having to scroll through the whole menu.
  • KeyExtender remaps keys are the program level. In other words, you must have KeyExtender running at all times in order for the remappings to work properly.
    • The program manual states that KeyExtender can remap keys to the registry as well as at the program level. The advantage of remapping to the registry, of course, is that KeyExtender does not need to be running for the remaps to work. The only problem is I can’t seem to find how to get the registry level remaps to work – there is no feature in KeyExtender that does this. Update: I e-mailed the developer about it and it seems that KeyExtender does not have this feature. I am not particularly sure why the manual says it does.
  • Since KeyExtender needs to be running at all times, users are given the ability to suspend/activate KeyExtender at will. This can be done via the system tray icon (right click and select suspend or activate as necessary), or using hotkeys:

  • Users have the ability to lock their keyboards with KeyExtender. This can be done via the system tray icon (right click -> “Lock Keyboard”). When you want to unlock, simply repeat the procedure.
  • Users have the ability to save and load KeyExtender settings/configurations at will. This can be done via the system tray icon (right click -> “Settings File” -> “Load Settings File” or “Save Settings As”).

Last but not least, let me mention the fact that Windows 7 (and possibly Windows Vista) users either need to run KeyExtender in compatibility mode, or restart their computer after installation to make KeyExtender work. Why the developer has not officially started to supported Windows 7/Windows Vista yet – considering Vista has been out for years and Windows 7 has been out for almost half a year – I am not particularly sure.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional and Windows XP Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

Comfort Keys Lite

Comfort Keys Lite is a feature filled keyboard shortcut/remapping software. It also includes “extras” such as a clipboard manager.

SharpKeys

SharpKeys is a simple program that remaps keys via the registry.

HotKeyz

HotKeyz is a keyboard utility with hotkey control for executing other files, folders or RUN commands. Launch applications in a Normal, Minimized or Maximized State. The Parameter option gives you parameter control when launching another application like Internet Explorer and surfing to a specific site as parameter.

-Developer

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}For what it does, KeyExtender is a nice software that can, potentially, be very useful depending on your needs. I give it a thumbs up. However, I recommend Comfort Keys Lite over KeyExtender because as nice and useful and KeyExtender is, Comfort Keys Lite is just that much better having more features and a more attractive interface.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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25 comments

  1. RobCr

    An update on the status of my CapsLock Warning program.
    Ashraf has suggested some changes, which I have just completed and re-sent to Ashraf.

    I have not built into the program, code to make it autostart with Windows.
    I reckon you will all want the program to autostart with Windows.
    Any time my users need that ability, I just show them (describe) how they can set that up themselves.
    Are you all familiar with the Startup folder in the windows Start menu ?
    If you place a shortcut to any of your programs into THAT Start menu folder (it is called Startup), then Windows will always start those programs for you, automatically.
    Is there anyone wishing me to describe in detail how to do that ?

    Rob

  2. Ramesh Kumar

    @Ozzie
    Thanks, you just made my day friend. :). Just sharing a thought with you.I’ve noticed, in business, humour helps you win friends even when you succeed & in blogs it helps you win friends even when you post.

    It is a good medicine even if it may not be the best (referring to Laughter Is the Best Medicine – Readers Digest). Sometimes even sense gets shuttered down in real world & blog world – due to various reasons. Humour might help open shutters.

    Btw the “medicine” called humour is not required by dottechies because they are all healthy. So it helps gain more friends.I’ve certainly gained a friend & soulmate in you Ozzie!Thanks
    Ramesh :D

  3. Ramesh Kumar

    @amnesia
    Friend that’s lateral thinking of a very high order. It would thrill Edward De Bono & do him proud. It isn’t about whether that idea is chosen or not. The point is, it is a superlative quality of thinking
    Ramesh :)

  4. Ramesh Kumar

    Thanks Ashraf!
    I was in a dilemma between ethics & desire. In such situations I always choose to keep quiet in order to be ethical.

    I’ve gained so much when life put me in touch with you that I realized that in this case running the marathon was more important than running a 100 metre sprint.

    While running that marathon I realized an excellent co-runner aka RobCr & realized that very few “good Samaritans” are made nowadays. I suppose that is because that mould broke recently
    Ramesh :)

  5. amnesia

    @RobCr:
    Two ways I can think of.
    Open it up on the forums.
    1, to people with x amount of posts, may have to check with admin that the posts a legit. If posts are deleted, they still keep that number.
    2, to people who are regular posters on the blog, would need to work with Ashraf to make sure names and emails add up.

  6. RobCr

    I haven’t worked out a way yet (with Ashraf) to restrict it to members only.
    ( I am a good Samaritan, who only wants to share with his other Samaritans)
    Perhaps in the meantime we could work out a way for me to get the email addresses of those that have expressed an interest (above), and I could email it to you’se
    Rob

    PS Am I the only SEMI Good Samaritan ?
    Some of you’se are probably developers that may have something else to share, but again only wish to share it with our members ?

  7. Ramesh Kumar

    @Happy Person & MikeR
    This neg thing in GOTD. “Lack of moderation” & “Tall Poppy” on that site is not just due to decadent human nature but also due to sad business reasons.
    Ashraf in his admirably incorruptible manner either likes an app or does not – He calls a spade a spade loud & clear. The number of downloads of the app therefore bears a direct correlation to whether Ashraf likes it or not. Such is Ashraf’s credibility.
    Lesser downloads perhaps means a narrower revenue stream on the day of a negative review. Since GOTD cannot control a review but it can tweak a neg it does so
    Ramesh :)

  8. Ray

    Thanks for the opportunity – my keyboard already has many of these shortcuts built-in.

    @Rob I like the sound of your CapsLock program (Ashraf – please!) as I’m constantly sliding from the ‘A’ key to the ‘Caps Lock’ key. Thanks for the offer!

    Ray

  9. normofthenorth

    Janet, I think you’d get the remapped version as long as the remapping was in effect — in this case, whenever KeyExtender is active. If you want the UN-remapped value of that key, you’d have to hit the toggle (hotkey) to suspend KeyExtender.

    I’m using ComfortKeys, and I’ve only put in one Macro so far: when I hit Ctrl-0, my computer transposes the two characters to the left of the cursor — so “teh” becomes “the”, etc. That’s my most common typing error, and it’s often quicker to fix this way than any other way.

    But I just thought of another use for a key-extender-type program: Recently, I wanted to insert some special characters, and the standard old Windows technique — holding down Alt while you enter into the “secret” numeric code on the numeric keypad — doesn’t seem possible on my Thinkpad’s laptop keyboard (with no numeric keypad). But this program (and maybe ComfortKeys Lite, too) could allow me to re-map 1234 so they actually entered Num1, Num2, Num3, and Num4, which would probably work! (I also discovered that it’s easy to swap keyboard in Windows so I can use an International keyboard, that lets me enter foreign accented characters like é and ü easily, so I don’t have to enter Alt-codes very often now.)

    Norm

  10. Janet

    I have a REALLY dumb question: If you remap a key, does that mean you can no longer use it in its usual manner? Thus, for any letter or number key, you wouldn’t be able to type that letter or number–it would instead ALWAYS give you what you mapped/changed it to??? That couldn’t be…..Or do you have to keep turning it on and off from the system tray icon each time you want to get the remap result…?

  11. Happy Person

    @MikeR(#5) & @Sunny(#8) – I agree 100% with your thoughts on the negative comments that some GOTD members hurl at other GOTD members on the GOTD site. This immature behavior is truly appalling.

    What is even sadder is the fact that the GOTD moderators (for some inexplicable reason) allow these mean and nasty comments to go through very easily. By doing so, they are (in effect) condoning and encouraging such despicable behavior.

    We are not in high school anymore and, as adults, people should express their opnions in a way that is positive, without demeaning and hurting others.

    I, also, like DotTech’s decent, family atmosphere.

    Anyway, I’ve spoken my peace, and ciao for now.

    Happy Person (aka Inas)

  12. Sunny

    @Rob

    I join with Ramesh & MikeR to thank you for the generous offer, and hope it will be hosted here. A little program like that would make life a lot easier while computing.

    While the Caps Lock is certainly one of the more frustrating keys, for me the ‘Insert’ Key is the leading contender in frustration value. I must hold up my hand and admit that with many a keyboard through the years I’ve pryed off the Insert key out of sheer frustration. I type in the dark a lot and accidentally hit it much too often. (No I don’t live in a cupboard ;-)) I’ve never taken the time to remap it, but today following Ashraf’s suggestion, I’ve downloaded Comfort Keys Lite and will spend some time with it.

    @MikeR

    Couldn’t agree more with your post. I think the recent ramping up of negs fired at Ashraf are from several directions. Apart from the morons who see it as fun to neg frequently, it seems to me that for others jealousy is the motivating factor. Some folk also feel very threatened by what they view as ‘a tall poppy’ (do you have that saying in the States??) Anyway it means that if someone stands out from the crowd and is given attention others can’t resist cutting that person down and will often use aggressive and degrading tactics to do so. We humans tend to be very competitive.

    The dottech website is one of the few where I feel truly comfortable and I lay kudos for that largely at Ashraf’s door. There’s a very good vibe here, people are decent to each other and one can spend hours happily browsing around the many items of interest.

    In contrast I spent a week or two exploring the 4free website and was frankly repelled in the end by the all-pervading, controlling and manipulative nature of the individual who runs that site.

    It made me all the more appreciate Ashraf and dottech and the genuine goodwill and community spirit here.

  13. Ramesh Kumar

    @Ashraf – Great review as usual. In fact since this is a habit with you I’ll not only download KeyExtender but map a hotkey which would type in “Great review as usual” whenever I press that hotkey. :D.

    I say this with one more reason.

    It so happens that some of us tend to be “mousers” & some of us tend to be “keyboardists”. Excessive use of “either” actually hurts the palm & the wrist over a period of time. I’ve consciously tried to become “ambidextrous” in this respect. In that sense KeyExtender is actually a “good for health” product when it comes to computers. :D

    Some clarifications please:-
    1)Do the “Set dropdown keys only allow CAPITAL A to Z or also small a to z? (see the picture Ashraf gave)

    2)Does the “To dropdown keys” only allow CAPITAL ALPHABETS but not small alphabets? (see the picture Ashraf gave)

    3)Am I right in my understanding that “Set dropdown keys” cover the entire range of 26 alphabets whereas “To dropdown keys” covers only some of the alphabets? (see the picture Ashraf gave)

    @RobCr – I join hands with MikeR in saying that I am definitely interested. Friend could you post more details in the forum too. Could you clarify 2 issues:-
    1)Resource usage how much is it?
    2)Whether the process continually runs in the background or runs only when invoked?

    Please do not misunderstand my curiosity as pompousity because it isn’t. You’ve gotten me deeply interested. So I ask this with the utmost respect :)
    Ramesh :)

  14. MikeR

    Rob: what a gRET idEa (seriously!) And a generous thought, too — I would’ve thought there’d be many of us dot.techies who’d appreciate this kind of facility.

    Roland: the wonderful thing about all the negs pitched at Ashraf on GOTD is that (a) they’re free publicity and (b) self-defeating.

    Only a moron would waste his / her time negging a review in hope of destroying the reputation of the reviewer. And only a moron would accept at face value the judgment represented by such negs.

    The more intelligent computer user will actually think, hmmm, something weird about this. . . and then follow the link to dot.tech to see if the full review really is as appalling as it has been made out to be. . .

    And then, as likely as not, get into dot.tech and take advantage of all the fun (and the help, and the community spirit) that obtains here.

    Put it another way: if I knew nothing about dot.tech, or Ashraf, but saw that every review of his on GOTD was bedecked with a vast number of positives, I’d begin to wonder if, perhaps, some padding was occurring and cronyism was rearing its ugly head.

    The daft negging demonstrates the opposite: the existence of some who, er, think it’s funny. As well as the existence of some to whom Ashraf, and dot.tech, is a worrying threat.

    So I’m not going to click the ‘plus’ sign on GOTD; as it stands, the morons are — hilariously — recruiting more people to dot.tech than even the best PR agency could manage.

    More negs! More negs! Yay!

    :-P :lol: :-P :lol: :-P :lol:

  15. Roland

    Hello, i’d like to add AutoHotKey as a possible alternative (http://www.autohotkey.com/) . AHK is more complicated to use (you have to program the scripts that alter the keyboard), but also very powerful. It can be of great help to even moderately skilled computer users like myself (and very useful to more skilled users). It’s free and Open Source.

    On another note, people reading this should go to GAOTD and support Ashraf’s post as being “usefull”. Some people are voting it down (i don’t know how to describe those people without being too rude)

  16. RobCr

    Have you ever typed -
    mARY HAD A LITTLE lAMB
    When you meant to type -
    Mary had a little Lamb

    I have noticed some people using -
    “If thy eye offends thee, pluck it out”
    (Prying off the key, or disabling it, or re-mapping it)
    I don’t recommend any of those drastic measures.

    Over the years I have searched, but never found a decent solution.
    So I have written one myself.
    It has an icon in the systray.
    The icon flashes when the CapsLock is on.
    In addition you can have a small warning, saying ‘CAPSLOCK ON’ appear and disappear repeatedly, whilst the Capslock is on.
    You can set whether it is dead center of your screen (my favorite location), or near the top, or near the bottom.
    You should place a shortcut to it, in the Windows Menu Startup, so it is always running.
    Ever since I have had this running (2010 Jan 6), I have never mistakenly left the CapsLock on

    It is written in VB6.
    It does not require installation.
    If enough of you express an interest, I will see if Ashraf is tempted to ‘host it’ for downloading by our members. (Do you have a members only download section, Ashraf ?)
    There will be no charge.

    Rob