Keyboard tweaking

May 8, 2008 at 10:36 am | Posted in Computers, Software | Leave a comment

IBM developed the “101 key Enhanced” keyboard layout back in the mid-80’s thats become the standard you see almost everywhere. With the addition of the Windows and App keys along the bottom, you get the typical 103 key Windows keyboard.

The layout added a couple of great keys but made a few dumb changes. For example Caps Lock, which you almost never use, is in a dominant position. The Ctrl key you use all the time to Save and Copy is in the outside corner. The irritating Ins key gets bumped and changes word processing behavior. Then theres that now useless scroll lock key. I also missed the once larger Enter key, then sometimes called Return a la typewriter.

Some keyboards come with key remapping software but thats not typical nor necessarily decent.

I used to pop the top off the Caps Lock key, then used the trick in Accessibility. (Control Panel) The Toggle Keys feature makes a noise if Cap, Num, and yes, Scroll Lock are hit.

There is a way to remap certain annoying keys like Caps Lock and Ins but it means putting hexidecimal settings backwards in the registry so is not for the non-Geek.

Recently, I ran into Sharpkeys over at RandysRants. Easy to make the hacks – you can even simply click the keys you want to change from and to. There are a few limitations due to the nature of hardware. But handling the above is a piece of cake.

Just don’t get too carried away – you want to be able to use keyboards other than your own. And don’t go remapping the E key on your friends computer….


PS- I still remember one of the weirdest remap problems. My boss had his keyboard set to English Can. When he went into our new online application, it rearranged all his letter keys. He had laboriously figured out that e was s and r was j and so forth. When we set him back to English US, all was well. Have no idea why it would resort the letters in the same language but…

PPS – Microsoft has a tool for completely remapping your keyboard if you prefer, for example, the Dvorak layout (common keys under common fingers) or want to change a shift state, like making $ give you a Euro symbol. Be sure to go for the older version for everything but Vista. The end result can even be deployed to others.

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