The CAPS LOCK key is probably the most useless key on your keyboard. Netiquette forbids you to use it because it’s considered screaming, which is simply rude. And what else would you use it for other than expressing your raw emotions? Unintentional activation of the CAPS LOCK is also a common reason why people fail to type the right password. That’s because it sits on the home row, a prime location that is easily hit by accident.
On the other hand, it is possible to replace the CAPS LOCK key with a character or function you use a lot. What are keys and shortcuts that are missing on your keyboard? Or maybe there are keys you wish were in a more convenient location. It’s time to remap your keyboard and put all those neglected keys to good use, starting with how to use the CAPS LOCK key.
Before you go ahead and fix an entire keyboard key by key, note that there are other alternatives for optimizing the keyboard layout, especially if you are dealing with a foreign keyboard. This article is written for Windows users. If you are on a Mac, check out these articles on how to remap your Mac keyboard for more geek power and learn everything about Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts.
Map Backspace To CAPS LOCK Key Without Rebooting
Most tools that let you remap the keyboard edit the registry. Hence, for the changes to come into effect, you need to reboot the computer. That’s OK if you want to make permanent changes, but not always practical.
is a portable app for coders. It applies a global keyboard hook whenever the CAPS LOCK key is pressed and throws in a Backspace in its place. So instead of SHOUTING, you will be deleting what you just wrote.
Map A Useful Key To The CAPS LOCK Key
Open SharpKeys (hint: it’s in the RandyRants.com folder in All Programs) and click Add in the bottom left. Select Special: Caps Lock as a From key and pick a desired key. Whatever you select, CAPS LOCK will adopt the behavior of that key. Click OK to confirm your selection.
Once back in the main window you can either add another remap combo or complete the procedure by pressing the Write to Registry key in the bottom right.
This is when you will have to log out or reboot your computer for the changes to come into effect. To undo changes made with SharpKeys, launch the program, delete the respective entries in the list, click the Write to Registry button and restart your computer.
When you log back in, hitting the key that once used to trigger the CAPS LOCK will now produce a character or function of your choice.
Turn Your CAPS LOCK Key Into a Hotkey
Is there a program you open all the time or a website you visit frequently, MakeUseOf for example? When writing, I constantly open IrfanView for pasting screenshots. So we will turn the CAPS LOCK key into a hotkey for opening this app. You could also make it a hotkey for Google.com and thus turn it into a search key à la Chrome OS.
First you need to map another key to the CAPS LOCK key because you cannot assign CAPS LOCK itself as a hotkey. Use the method described above to remap the key and pick a key that doesn’t do anything as To key, for example Function: F10.
Once the CAPS LOCK has been taken care of, you can create a shortcut which will open the desired file, folder, program, or website. The shortcut can live anywhere on your computer and you can also use existing shortcuts. Let’s create a shortcut on your Desktop. Right-click the Desktop, go to New and click Shortcut.
In the Create Shortcut window, browse to the desired item, click Next, name the shortcut, and click Finish. To point the shortcut to a website, simply type in the complete URL, e.g. http://www.makeuseof.com/
To link the shortcut with your new hotkey, right-click it and select Properties. Under the Shortcut tab, click into the Shortcut key field and press your CAPS LOCK key. This will paste in the key that was mapped to your CAPS LOCK key, in this example F10.
Click OK to save and try it. Pure awesomeness!
You can also use a program called AutoHotkey to assign Hotkeys. Lifehacker has created a nifty website-based tool to easily create your own custom AutoHotkey script for remapping keys on your keyboard.
Following the instructions above you can finally put your CAPS LOCK key to good use. Moreover, you can apply the method to any other key on your keyboard and increase your productivity manifold. Now all you need is a good way to repaint your keys.
Are you finally becoming a fan of your keyboard? It’s good to know that you could operate Windows with your keyboard alone should your mouse break or go missing.
Which keys did you retire and how are you using them now?