April 11, 2023
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Remapping 101: How to change your keyboard key output
Your PC or laptop keyboard doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. If you’re not a fan of certain key placements or find that you aren’t using some of your keys, you can rearrange the functions of your keys however you like. Most keyboards are laid out in the same way, but Windows 11 features allow you to make the necessary adjustments to help you type more comfortably. Learn how you can remap your keys and change keyboard outputs on Windows 11 .
Why remap your keyboard?
If you’re used to a standard keyboard layout, you may not initially see the value in remapping your keys. Here are some common reasons for changing keyboard outputs:
- Typing on a foreign keyboard. If you want to type in any language besides English, it can be difficult to type seamlessly on an English-only keyboard. By switching your key functions, you can cater to different language settings.
- Using your keyboard for PC gaming. PC gamers rely on their keyboards to play their favorite games. Remapping your keys to best suit your gaming needs can improve performance and make your frequently used keys more accessible.
- Repurposing underused keys. Not everyone uses their keys the same way. If it seems like a key that you don’t often use is taking up valuable space on your keyboard, you can reassign its function to find a good use for it and increase productivity.
Popular QWERTY alternatives
You may notice that top row of letters on your keyboard, going left to right, spells QWERTY. However, there are other popular keyboard layouts that can help you type faster or more comfortably. Learn more about each layout and how they might benefit your typing:
- AZERTY. The AZERTY layout simply moves the output of the Q , W , and M keys. It is most often used in France and other surrounding countries.
- Dvorak. The Dvorak layout puts the most used keys in the middle row, which decreases finger movement. This typing method can help reduce strain in your fingers, which makes for a more ergonomic experience.
- Colemak. The Colemak layout offers a slight improvement on the Dvorak layout. It also places the commonly used keys in the middle row, but it keeps the useable features of the QWERTY layout intact.
How to remap your keys on Windows 11
The easiest way to change your keyboard functions on Windows 11 is to use the Keyboard Manager utility. The Keyboard Manager is one of many utilities available in Microsoft PowerToys , which are a collection of productivity tools that allow users to customize their Windows experience.
How does Keyboard Manager work?
Once you’ve downloaded PowerToys onto your device, select Keyboard Manager and toggle Enable Keyboard Manager. You’ll find separate sections for remapping keys and remapping shortcuts, each of which can be adjusted to your liking. Some keys and shortcuts cannot be remapped in Keyboard Manager, and these limitations are highlighted on the platform. PowerToys must be running for the key mapping to work, so make sure you don’t close out of the program after making your selections.
What other keyboard mapping functions are available on Windows?
If you are still running Windows 10 on your PC, you can download Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to create your own keyboard layouts. Microsoft keyboard users can also try the Mouse and Keyboard Center app to get the most out of the customization features within the accessories. Other keyboard mapping options can be downloaded on Microsoft Apps .
By learning how to remap your keys, you can break the mold and take control of how you use your keyboard. Shop for Microsoft Keyboards to find the perfect keyboard to test your remapped keys on Windows 11 .
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T ap tap tap! Tap tap tap! That's the sound of someone thinking aloud in the 21st century, which typically means banging out words in a blog or an email or word-processing an essay or a forum post. Computer keyboards are generally quicker to use than old-fashioned typewriter keyboards, though they're still no match for dictating your documents with voice recognition software . Have you ever stopped to wonder what your keyboard's like inside? You might be surprised to find it's just a load of electrical switches. Let's take a closer look!
Photo: A typical low-cost computer keyboard. Each key is nothing more than a switch: it closes an electrical circuit when you press it down and opens the circuit when you release it again.
A word of warning!
You've heard me say this before. Taking things to bits is a brilliant way to learn how they work but, for a whole bunch of reasons, it's often dangerous , difficult, or ill-advised. In the case of computer keyboards, there's not a lot of danger, but there are a couple of hundred tiny pieces that fall out very easily. If you drop the keyboard while you're messing about with it, expect to find yourself taking at least a couple of hours to put it all back together again. You have been warned!
What's under the keys?
Pull a key off the keyboard and you can see roughly how it works. There's a little hole in the plastic base and the keyboard has a long round bar the same shape. When you press the key, the bar pushes down through the hole to touch the contact layers below. Inside the hole, there's a little tiny piece of rubber (you can't see it in this photo) that stops the key moving down and pushes it back up when you release it. This is what gives the spring to the keys.
What's under the keyboard?
Take off the keyboard's bottom panel and you can see how it all works from beneath. You can see the transparent plastic contact layers that detect key presses and (through those layers) you can see the round bars poking the keys down from above. The green rectangle at the top contains three small LEDs that activate the indicator lights for "Num lock", "Caps lock", and "Scroll lock". Notice also the cable running along the inside of the case at the top of the keyboard, which carries electrical signals from the keyboard to your computer's USB port (or PS/2 port on older machines).
How do the keys press down?
Peel back the electrical contact layers and you can see the bottom of the keys and where they press down. Balancing on my fingertip, you can see one of the little rubber pieces that makes the keys bounce up and down. Notice the pattern of electrical tracks on the contact layers. In this photo, we are looking down through the bottom of the keyboard (so the keys are underneath).
How do the contact layers work?
This is the magic part of a keyboard. There are three separate layers of plastic that work together to detect your key presses. Two of them are covered in electrically conducting metal tracks and there's an insulating layer between them with holes in it. The dots you can see are places where the keys press the two conducting layers together. The lines are electrical connections that allow tiny electric currents to flow when the layers are pressed tight to one another by a key moving down from above. In the photo below, you can see a closeup of the underside of one key—and, if you look closely, just about see how it works. There's one set of electrical connections on the lower sheet of plastic, printed in light gray. The other set is on the upper sheet of plastic and printed in dark gray. The two sheets are kept apart by a clear plastic layer except at the holes, which is where the keys push down to make the two sheets touch.
How does it all work together?
Are laptops the same, how do keypads work, how to make your laptop keyboard last longer, who invented modern computer keyboards, if you liked this article..., find out more, on this site.
- Computer mice
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On other sites
- Learn how a keypad matrix works with a micro:bit by Giles Booth. A more technical look at how keypads and keyboards are really wired up.
- France Plans a New Keyboard to Shift Control to Typists by Aurelien Breeden. The New York Times. January 22, 2016. The Azerty keyboard makes it easier to type accented characters, but something simpler is needed, argues the French government.
- Why I use a 20-year-old IBM Model M keyboard by Iljitsch van Beijnum. Ars Technica, November 2013. A retro-keyboard enthusiast explains the attractions of older technology.
- How to Replace Your Laptop Keyboard by Eric Geier, PCWorld, July 12, 2012. A handy, practical guide to relacing a broken or sticky keyboard in a laptop.
- Beyond the keyboard and mouse by Chris Vallance, BBC News, March 14, 2008. What other forms of computer input will we use in future?
- So Many Gadgets, So Many Aches by Phyllis Korkki. The New York Times, September 10, 2011. From laptops to smartphones, mobile computing is taking a growing toll on our bodies.
- US Patent 6,547,463B1: Collapsible keyboard by Jyh-Yi Loo, Changshu Sunrex. April 15, 2003. An example of a folding keyboard mechanism.
- US Patent 4,639,559A: Membrane keyboard by Toshimichi Taguchi, Sharp Corporation. January 27, 1987. A simple membrane-type keyboard with laminated conducting sheets.
- US Patent US4,274,752A: Keyboard multiple switch assembly by Daniel Huber et al, IBM. June 23, 1981. A more complex mechanical keyboard switch that can do different things if you press it in different ways.
- US Patent 3,591,749: Printed circuit keyboard by James Martin Comstock, Singer Company. July 6, 1971. The basic numeric keypad illustrated up above.
- US Patent 559,756: Type-writing machine by Christopher Latham Sholes. May 5, 1896. An early Sholes patent illustrates the connection between old typewriters and modern keyboards.
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How to change keyboard layout on Windows 10
If you require more keyboard layouts on Windows 10, we'll show you how in this guide.
- Chang layout
- Remove layout
Windows 10 asks you to configure additional keyboard layouts during the initial setup. However, you can always add or remove layouts if you didn't choose the correct one or must type in another language.
Usually, it's uncommon to change the input settings, but there many situations when you might need to. For example, sometimes you may need to switch to the Spanish layout to write words that include special characters like "Ñ," or prefer a different layout, such as the United States-Dvorak.
Regardless of the reason, Windows 10 ships with easy settings to add, remove, and change layouts for hardware and touch keyboards.
This guide will walk you through the steps to manage keyboard layouts on Windows 10.
How to add keyboard layout on Windows 10
To add a new keyboard layout on Windows 10, use these steps:
- Open Settings .
- Click on Time & Language.
- Click on Language .
- Under the "Preferred languages" section, select the current default language (top in the list).
- Click the Options button.
- Under the "Keyboards" section, click the "Add a keyboard" button.
- Select the new keyboard layout to add to Windows 10.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 to add more layouts.
Once you complete the steps, the new keyboard layout will be added to the device, and you can switch between them using the instructions below.
While changing layouts is straightforward, it'll reconfigure some of the keyboard keys, which means some of the keys may print a different character depending on the layout.
To switch between keyboard layouts on Windows 10, use these steps:
- Click the Input Indicator icon in Taskbar (bottom right).
- Select the new keyboard layout.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 to switch back to the default layout.
After you complete the steps, you can start typing with the new keyboard layout.
Enable Input Indicator
If the Input Indicator is not present in the Taskbar, you can enable it through the Settings app.
To enable the Input Indicator on Windows 10, use these steps:
- Click on Personalization .
- Click on Taskbar .
- Under the "Notification area" section, click the "Turn system icons on or off" option.
- Turn on the Input Indicator toggle switch.
Once you complete the steps, the icon will appear in the Taskbar's notification area to access the layouts and switch between them. Alternatively, you can use the "Windows key + Spacebar" keyboard shortcut to cycle between the available keyboard layouts more quickly.
How to remove keyboard layout on Windows 10
To remove a keyboard layout on Windows 10, use these steps:
- Under the "Keyboards" section, select the keyboard to remove from the list.
- Click the Remove button.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 to remove additional layouts.
Once you complete the steps, the keyboard layout will be removed from the device.
For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:
- Windows 11 on Windows Central — All you need to know
- Windows 10 on Windows Central — All you need to know
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Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.
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What is Computer Keyboard?
Keyboard is the primary text input device on all computers which contain standard function keys such as escape tag and cursor movement keys. It is like a traditional typewriter which use same key arrangement as the mechanical and electronic keyboards. The arrangement of alphabetic keys is Qwerty keyboard. Another key arrangement Dvorak which was designed to use easily.
Function of keyboard
There is no one standard keyboard, all are manufacturers create their own. Most keyboard have same function. Essential component to keyboard are the letter keys which allow operator to write on the computer. Keyboard can be found nearly in many languages to match with the computer settings. Like alphabets, numbers, basic navigation function like arrow key and the “enter” key are also included on keyboard.
Purpose of Keyboard
The main purpose it serve is to input data into a computer so application can function as the user desires. It can also be used for gaming and give command for computer operating system. A standard keyboard has 105 keys.
Parts of a keyboard
- Typing Area: Typing area you see when you do word processing. It is like a traditional typewriter where you press alphabetic character such as letters, special characters and numbers.
- Functioning keys: All the functioning keys are located at the top of the keyboard and grouped into four. Key starting from F1 to F12. Use for special purpose and specific task. For example. If you writing something in Microsoft word and you stuck somewhere and need help then press F1 and F5 key will display find and replace dialog box. F12 will save dialogue box. These keys support different in different application like F2 key will display AutoCAD text window. Similarly you can check all the key what function exactly they provide. Functions key will be beneficial for you if you know how to use them.
- Numeric keypad: Numeric keypad is located at the right side of the keyboard which is arranged like a standard calculator used to enter the numeric data. Num lock key tell whether the keys are on numeric or directional mode. If it is on means if green light is shown on the num lock key means can enter the numbers. But if it off then directional keys are activated which moves the cursor up, down, left or right.
- Cursor and monitor controls: These keys are located between typing keypad and the numeric keypad. Having two groups that are arranged top and bottom. Top keys holds Insert, home, Page Up and Page Down, Delete and End keys.
Insert key switches between insert and overtype mode. Home key brings the cursor to the beginning of the page. Page Up and Page Down helps you to move on pages without using mouse. Delete has erase the document or page or text that you has been select. End key takes you end of the page.
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How to access and change computer keyboard settings
Computer users can change some settings and features, including programmable keys or keyboard shortcuts , on a computer keyboard in Windows or macOS . The settings and features can change depend on the type of keyboard.
To access settings for your computer keyboard, follow the steps for the type of operating system on your computer.
To access keyboard settings in Windows, follow the steps below.
- Open the Control Panel .
- Click or double-click the Keyboard icon. If you're not viewing the Control Panel as icons, change the View by to Large icons or Small icons in the top-right corner of the Control Panel.
In the Keyboard Properties window, you can change some basic settings for your keyboard, as shown in the example below.
If you have a multimedia or programmable keyboard, additional settings and features can be changed through software from the keyboard manufacturer . The keyboard software may come with the keyboard or the computer, or you can download it from the keyboard manufacturer's website.
Once installed, the keyboard software lets you access and modify additional settings and features for your keyboard. The specific settings and features available are different for each keyboard. If you have a Microsoft keyboard, you can adjust additional settings through the Mouse and Keyboard Center .
- How to toggle Scroll Lock, Num Lock, and Caps Lock.
- How to disable or enable the Num Lock key at startup.
To access keyboard settings in macOS, follow the steps below.
- Click the Apple menu icon in the upper-left corner.
- Select the System Preferences option in the menu.
- In the System Preferences window, click the Keyboard icon.
The Keyboard window opens and lets you change some basic settings and configure keyboard shortcuts.
Once installed, the keyboard software lets you access and modify additional settings and features for your keyboard. The specific settings and features available are different for each keyboard.
- How to turn off or disable a laptop keyboard.
- See our keyboard page for an explanation of the keyboard and related links.
- Keyboard help and support.
[Windows 11/10] How to add/change Keyboard Language
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Computer Input Device: Keyboard
The keyboard is the oldest and most familiar of all input devices. Keyboards are intelligent devices and contain their own chips. Basically each key acts as a switch which closes when the key is pressed. The microprocessor scans the keyboard hundreds of times a second to see if a key has been pressed; if it has, a code that depends on which key has been pressed is sent to the processing unit. There are three types of keyboard: Enhanced or Extended keyboard, Cordless keyboard and Ergonomic keyboard.
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Use the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) to type
There are several different kinds of keyboards for PCs. The most common type is a physical, external keyboard that plugs into your PC. But Windows has a built-in Accessibility tool called the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) that can be used instead of a physical keyboard.
You don’t need a touchscreen to use the OSK. It displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys, so you can use your mouse or another pointing device to select keys, or use a physical single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.
Note: A PC with a touchscreen also has a touch keyboard. The touch keyboard will appear when you tap inside a text box when your PC is in tablet mode .
To open the On-Screen Keyboard
Go to Start , then select Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard , and turn on the On-Screen Keyboard toggle. A keyboard that can be used to move around the screen and enter text will appear on the screen. The keyboard will remain on the screen until you close it.
Note: To open the OSK from the sign-in screen, select the Accessibility button in the lower-right corner of the sign-in screen, and then select On-Screen Keyboard .
To change how info is entered into the On-Screen Keyboard
With the OSK open, select the Options key, and choose the options you want:
Use click sound : Use this option if you want to hear a sound when you press a key.
Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen : Use this option if you want the OSK to have keys for repositioning it on your screen.
Turn on numeric keypad : Use this option to expand the OSK to show a numeric keypad.
Click on keys : Use this mode if you prefer to click or tap the on-screen keys to enter text.
Hover over keys : Use this mode if you use a mouse or joystick to point at OSK keys. The characters you point at are entered automatically when you point at them for a specified time. Use the Hover duration slider to adjust the delay.
Scan through keys : Use this mode if you want the OSK to continually scan the keyboard. Scan mode highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click. Use the Scanning speed slider to set a speed that suits your preferences. You can also choose any combination of the following options for selecting a key:
A joystick, game pad, or other gaming device
A keyboard key that you can choose from a list
A mouse click
Use Text Prediction : Use this option if you want the OSK to suggest words for you as you type so you don't need to type each complete word. You can also select if you want to insert a space after each predicted word.
Text Prediction is available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. If you want to use one of these languages and it isn't installed, install the language files for that language.
If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidently minimize the OSK, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).
If you minimize the OSK and switch to tablet mode, use the Task view button to get back to the OSK.
There are several different kinds of keyboards for PCs. The most common type is a physical, external keyboard that plugs into your PC. But Windows has a built-in Ease of Access tool called the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) that can be used instead of a physical keyboard.
Go to Start , then select Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard , and turn on the toggle under Use the On-Screen Keyboard . A keyboard that can be used to move around the screen and enter text will appear on the screen. The keyboard will remain on the screen until you close it.
Note: To open the OSK from the sign-in screen, select the Ease of Access button in the lower-right corner of the sign-in screen, and then select On-Screen Keyboard .
Use click sound . Use this option if you want to hear a sound when you press a key.
Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen . Use this option if you want the keys to light up as you type.
Turn on numeric keypad . Use this option to expand the OSK to show a numeric keypad.
Click on keys . Use this mode if you prefer to click or tap the on-screen keys to enter text.
Hover over keys . Use this mode if you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key. The characters you point to are entered automatically when you point to them for a specified time.
Scan through keys . Use this mode if you want the OSK to continually scan the keyboard. Scan mode highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.
Use Text Prediction . Use this option if you want the OSK to suggest words for you as you type so you don't need to type each complete word.
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