Keyboard Manager utility

The PowerToys Keyboard Manager enables you to redefine keys on your keyboard.

For example, you can exchange the letter A for the letter D on your keyboard. When you select the A key, a D will display.

PowerToys Keyboard Manger remap keys screenshot

You can also exchange shortcut key combinations. For example, the shortcut key, Ctrl+C, will copy text in Microsoft Word. With PowerToys Keyboard Manager utility, you can exchange that shortcut for ⊞ Win+C). Now, ⊞ Win+C) will copy text. If you do not specify a targeted application in PowerToys Keyboard Manager, the shortcut exchange will be applied globally across Windows.

PowerToys Keyboard Manager must be enabled (with PowerToys running in the background) for remapped keys and shortcuts to be applied. If PowerToys is not running, key remapping will no longer be applied.

PowerToys Keyboard Manger remap Shortcuts screenshot

Note

There are some shortcut keys that are reserved for the operating system and cannot be replaced. Keys that cannot be remapped include:

  • ⊞ Win+L and Ctrl + Alt + Del cannot be remapped as they are reserved by the Windows OS.
  • The Fn (function) key cannot be remapped (in most cases). The F1-F12 (and F13-F24) keys can be mapped.
  • Pause will only send a sngle keydown event. So mapping it against the backspace key, for instance, and pressing + holding will only delete a single character.

Settings

To create mappings with Keyboard Manager, you will need to open the PowerToys Settings (search for the PowerToys app in your Windows Start menu, selecting it will open the PowerToys Settings window). Inside PowerToys Settings, on the Keyboard Manager tab, you will see the options to:

  • Launch the Remap Keyboard settings window by selecting Remap a Key
  • Launch the Remap Shortcuts settings window by selecting the Remap a shortcut

Remap Keys

To remap a key, changing it to new value, launch the Remap Keyboard settings window with the Remap a Key button. When first launched, no predefined mappings will be displayed. You must select the + button to add a new remap.

Once a new remap row appears, select the key whose output you want to change in the “Key” column. Select the new key value to assign in the “Mapped To” column.

For example, if you want to press A and have B appear:

  • Key: "A"
  • Mapped To: "B"

To swap key positions between the "A" and "B" keys, add another remapping with:

  • Key: "B"
  • Mapped To: "A"

Keyboard Remap Keys screenshot

Key to Shortcut

To remap a key to a shortcut (combination of keys), enter the shortcut key combination in the "Mapped To" column.

For example, if you want to select the "C" key and have it result in "Ctrl + V":

  • Key: "C"
  • Mapped To: "Ctrl + V"

Note

Key remapping will be maintained even if the remapped key is used in another shortcut. For example, entering the shortcut "Alt + C" would result as "Alt + Ctrl + V", since the C key has been remapped to "Ctrl + V".

Remap Shortcuts

To remap a shortcut key combination, like "Ctrl + v", select Remap a shortcut to launch the Remap Shortcuts settings window.

When first launched, no predefined mappings will be displayed. You must select the + button to add a new remap.

Once a new remap row appears, select the key whose output you want to change in the “Shortcut” column. Select the new shortcut value to assign in the “Mapped To” column.

For example, the shortcut Ctrl+C copies your selected text. To remap that shortcuts to use the Alt key, rather than the Ctrl key:

  • Shortcut: "Ctrl" + "C"
  • Mapped To: "Alt" + "C"

Keyboard Remap Shortcut screenshot

There are a few rules to follow when remapping shortcuts (these rules only apply on the "Shortcut" column):

  • Shortcuts must begin with a modifier key: Ctrl, Shift, Alt, or ⊞ Win
  • Shortcuts must end with an action key (all non-modifier keys): A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • Shortcuts cannot be longer than 3 keys

Remap a shortcut to a single key

It is possible to remap a shortcut (key combination) to a single key press.

For example, to replace the shortcut key ⊞ Win + D (display / hide Windows desktop apps) with a single key press, Alt:

  • Shortcut: "⊞ Win" (Windows key) + "D"
  • Mapped To: "Alt"

Note

Shortcut remapping will be maintained even if the remapped key is used in another shortcut. For example, entering the shortcut "Alt" + "Tab", after remapping the "Alt" key as above, would result in "⊞ Win" + "D" + "Tab".

App-specific shortcuts

Keyboard Manager enables you to remap shortcuts for only specific apps (rather than globally across Windows).

For example, in the Outlook email app the shortcut "Ctrl + E" is set by default to search for an email. If you prefer instead to set "Ctrl + F" to search your email (rather than forward an email as set by default), you can remap the shortcut with "Outlook" set as your "Target app."

Keyboard Manager uses the process-names (not application names) to target apps. For example, Microsoft Edge is set as "msedge" (process name), not "Microsoft Edge" (application name). To find an application's process name, open PowerShell and enter the command get-process or open Command Prompt and enter the command tasklist. This will result in a list of process names for all applications you currently have open. Below is a list of a few popular application process names.

Application Process name
Microsoft Edge msedge.exe
OneNote onenote.exe
Outlook outlook.exe
Teams Teams.exe
Adobe Photoshop Photoshop.exe
File Explorer explorer.exe
Spotify Music spotify.exe
Google Chrome chrome.exe
Excel excel.exe
Word winword.exe
Powerpoint powerpnt.exe

Keys that cannot be remapped

There are certain shortcut keys that are not allowed for remapping. These include:

  • Ctrl+Alt+ Del (interupt command)
  • ⊞ Win+L (locking your computer)
  • The function key, Fn, cannot be remapped (in most cases) but the F1-F12 can be mapped.

How to select a key

To select a key or shortcut to remap, you can:

  • Use the Type Key button.
  • Use the drop-down menu.

Once you select the Type Key / Shortcut button, a dialogue will pop up in which you can enter the key or shortcut using your keyboard. Once you’re satisfied with the output, hold Enter to continue. If you’d like to leave the dialogue, hold the Esc button.

Using the drop-down menu, you can search with the key name and additional drop-down values will appear as you progress. However, you can not use the type-key feature while the drop-down menu is open.

Orphaning Keys

Orphaning a key means that you mapped it to another key and no longer have anything mapped to it.

For example, if the key is remapped from A -> B, then a key no longer exists on your keyboard that results in A.

To fix this, use + to create another remapped key that is mapped to result in A. To ensure this does not happen by accident, a warning will display for any orphaned keys.

PowerToys Keyboard Manager orphaned key

Frequently asked questions

I remapped the wrong keys, how can I stop it quickly?

For key remapping to work, PowerToys must be running in the background and Keyboard Manager must be enabled. To stop remapped keys, close PowerToys or disable Keyboard Manger in the PowerToys settings.

Can I use Keyboard Manager at my log-in screen?

No, Keyboard Manager is only available when PowerToys is running and doesn’t work on any password screen, including Run As Admin.

Do I have to turn off my computer for the remapping to take effect?

No, remapping should occur immediately upon pressing Apply.

Where are the Mac/Linux profiles?

Currently Mac and Linux profiles are not included.

Will this work on video games?

It depends on how the game accesses your keys. Certain keyboard APIs do not work with Keyboard Manager.

Will remapping work if I change my input language?

Yes it will. Right now if you remap A to B on English (US) keyboard and then change the language setting to French, typing A on the French keyboard (Q on the English US physical keyboard) would result in B, this is consistent with how Windows handles multilingual input.

Troubleshooting

If you have tried to remap a key or shortcut and are having trouble, it could be one of the following issues:

  • Run As Admin: Remapping will not work on an app / window if that window is running in administrator (elevated) mode and PowerToys is not running as administrator. Try running PowerToys as an administrator.

  • Not Intercepting Keys: Keyboard Manger intercepts keyboard hooks to remap your keys. Some apps that also do this and can interfere with Keyboard Manager. To fix this, go to the settings and disable then re-enable Keyboard Manager.

Known Issues

See the list of open keyboard manager issues.