Category: About Hardware

How to remap or reassign keyboard keys

Why do we need to reassign keyboard keys? Well, there could be many reasons behind keyboard remapping. It may be any particular key of your keyboard is broken or you want to assign more useful functions to less used keys or to meet any other purpose, good news is that, keyboard remapping is quick and easy task.
There are several ways to reassign keyboard keys, like direct windows registry update, using open source software. Directly Windows registry update is not an easy task but there are many free tools which provide user friendly interfaces to remap keyboard and update Windows registry. One of such utilities is SharpKeys, it allows Windows to remap one key to another key. To download SharpKeys, click here. 
Once it is downloaded, click on the sharpkey.exe file to install and open it. 

Follow below steps to reassign keyboard keys:
Step 1: Click on ‘Add’ button that will open ‘Add New Key Mapping’ window to remap keyboard keys 


Step 2: Now choose the key from ‘From key’ column (left hand side) that will be mapped and ‘To Key’ column (right hand side) on which ‘From key’ will be mapped. You can type the key directly from keyboard also. To do so, click on ‘Type Key’ button under ‘From Key’ column and press the key from keyboard, do the same thing for ‘To Key’ also. Then click on ‘Ok’ button to close the ‘Add New Key Mapping’ window.


Step 3: Now you will see that ‘From Key’ and ‘To Key’ are listed on SharpKeys main window. If you want to do key mapping for more than one key, repeat Step 1 and 2. Once keyboard mapping is completed, click on ‘Write to Registry’ button to register all changes on windows registry. 
It will prompt successfully registered message but to see changes, you need to restart your system.

What if you want to revert your changes? No problem at all. Open SharpKeys and delete the mapping that you do not want any more. Once the mapping is deleted, again click on ‘Write to Registry’ button to save all changes and restart your system. Your key will behave as it was before mapping.

Limitation of SharpKeys:
– It does not allow to swap two keys with each other – for example, you can not have F1 and F2 swap places, it makes the utility unstable.
– It does not support to map multiple key presses to one key- for example, ctrl + c is mapped to F3
– Hardware limitation, it works best with US keyboard on Windows platform
Despite above limitations, SharpKeys is very useful utility to reassign keyboard keys. There are many other software as well, we will discuss those in our next post. 

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Use of Keyboard Function keys (F1 – F12)

Keyboard Function keys or fn keys (f1,f2,f3,f4,f5,f6,f7,f8,f9,f10,f11,f12)

Every keyboard comes with a set of function keys (F1 through F12) but do you know functionalities of those function keys (or fn keys)? Sometimes in multimedia keyboard or compact keyboard, these function keys come as secondary functions on other keys like brightness, sleep, play media, player, mute. In such keyboard, to use function keys, you may need to press another special key ‘fn’ (beside Windows key) and then any function key. These function keys can be used with combination of other keys like ctrl or alt or shift.
Each function key is built to perform specific task but it may vary based upon operating system and the kind of program you are using right now. Let’s see few common functionalities that can be performed using these function keys. Few of such functionalities you may have used, few not.


F1:  
   – Almost every program uses this key to open its Help and Support window 
   – F1 with windows key shows up Windows Help and Support screen
   – Can be used to enter CMOS setup

F2:
   – Yes, I know, almost everyone has used this to rename files or folders or icons quickly
   – Can be used to enter CMOS setup
   – Alt + Ctrl + F2 opens document window in Microsoft Office
   – Ctrl  + F2 displays print preview window in Microsoft Office
   – Alt + F2 opens ‘Save As’ window in Microsoft Excel
   – Shift + F2 can be used to add comment box in Microsoft Excel

F3:
   – Press F3 to open search window to find files and folders
   – In MSDOS or windows command prompt, F3 repeats the last command
   – On most browsers, F3 is used to open find bar
   – In Microsoft Word, Shift + F3 changes the text from upper case to lower case or all capital letters

F4:
– Most common, Alt + F4 to close current program window. If no program window is open, it launches Shutdown dialog box
– Ctrl  + F4 closes active window within current active window in Microsoft Windows
– Opens address bar in Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer
– Press F4 to repeat the last action performed in Microsoft Word

F5:
   – Almost in all modern internet browsers, pressing F5 refreshes or reloads the web page
   – Starts slide show in Power Point
   – Opens Find and Replace window in Microsoft Word, GoTo window in Excel

F6:
   – Almost in all modern browsers, pressing F6 moves the cursor to the address bar
   – Ctrl + F6 toggles between various Microsoft Word documents

F7:
   – Press F7 to launch Spelling and Grammar dialog box in Microsoft Office program
   – Shift + F7  opens Research window in Microsoft Office
   – In few browsers like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, pressing F7 turns Caret Browsing on or off

F8:
   – Holding F8 during Windows boot process enters into Windows Safe Mode
   – Pressing F8 displays a thumbnail image of all workspaces in Mac OS X

F9:
   – In many application, it is used to send email like Microsoft Outlook, Siebel CRM
   – Ctrl + F9 and Alt + F9 are used to build mail merge document in Microsoft Word
   – If you are a programmer, you may have used F9 to compile and execute code in combination with Ctrl or Alt key

F10:
   – In many programs, Shift + F10 opens up the menu window, equivalent to right-click
   – Shows menu bar in Mozilla Firefox, internet browser or highlights the same in many programs
   – Sometimes it is used to enter CMOS setup

F11:
   – Is used to enter and exit from full screen mode in all modern internet browsers
   – In Microsoft Excel, Shift + F11 adds a new sheet, Ctrl + F11 adds a new macro to the workbook
   – Pressing Alt + F11 in MS Office program, invokes Microsoft Visual Basic window for that document

F12:
– Opens ‘Save As’ window in MS Office program
– Shift + Ctrl + F12 open Print window in MS Office
– Ctrl + F12 opens a document in MS Office
– Opens and closes developer tools in most of the internet browsers

Conclusion:
In earlier IBM keyboard, there were keys from F13 to F24 also. But we do not use these function keys any more. We have tried our best to give you functionalities of all Function keys or fn keys (F1 – F12). But we may have missed out some important uses of these function keys and that’s what we have readers like you. Please let us know if you have come across any other functionalities of these function keys. We will publish it with your name.
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USB drive works but does not show in “Safely Remove Hardware”

Symptoms : USB drive works but does not appear in ‘Safely Remove hardware’ in Windows vista/Windows 7

  • USB drive works fine and we can see the device in ‘My Computer’
  • USB drive is displayed in ‘Disk drives’ under device manager
  • But either ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon is missing from task bar or right click on the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ icon does not show any option to remove USB device safely or ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ is not working fine

Solution: Windows Vista/7 does not need clicking on the ‘Safely Remove hardware’ anymore, every time you unplug the device unless OS default setting is changed. In Vista or windows 7, USB drives use ‘Quick removal’ option where internal hardware uses ‘Better performance’ and enables write caching in Windows. To check which option is enabled for your USB drive, perform below steps: 

  • With USB drive plugged in, right click on ‘My computer’ icon and click on Properties
  • On the Properties tab, select ‘Device Manager’ on the left hand sidebar
  • Locate ‘Disk drives’ and expand it on the ‘Device Manager’ popup
  • Right click on the USB drive and select Properties
  • Under ‘Policies’ tab, there will be two option with ‘Quick Removal’ option selected
    Safely Remove Hardware is not working - techonestop.com
If you want ‘Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media’ icon with safely eject option, select the option ‘Better performance’ and restart the system. But Windows vista/7 does not need safely remove option for USB drives anymore, make sure you have closed all open windows pointing to your USB drive before removing it. To remove the USB, first close all windows pointing to it and wait few seconds for the device to finish writing data. Also try to use same port every time you plug in USB and don’t be hasty to unplug the device. It may cause hardware issue.
If you have any issue related to USB drive/hardware, please let us know. We will try to provide you the best solution.
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