02/09/2013

Tip: Remap Keys on your Computer or Android to make them work the way you want

Things that go in mass production often don’t always comply with everyone’s specific needs. It is up to you, the user, to decide whether you want to adjust to what’s available to you or try to modify things the way you want. If you belong to the latter group of people, we are here to help you with such things.

Over past 5 years of my life that I have spent on gadgets taught me one thing: There are certain keys on a keyboard or on a device itself, that are used once in a year or two. Such keys can be put to some better use by remapping them. Remapping the keys can also solve any key specific problem- like when one key on your laptop doesn’t work and you don’t want to get the whole keyboard replaced just for that, then you can remap a lesser used key with the function of the broken key.

In this guide, I shall cover the two platforms I (and the majority of the people) use the most: Android on my smartphone and Windows on my computer. Don’t worry, it doesn’t require any coding excellence and just requires the use of light weight apps.

Remapping Hardware Keys on Android Devices:


  1. A free app called Button Remapper does the trick on Android. As expected, the app needs root access to make changes.
  2. Download the app from xda and install it on your phone.
  3. Also download and install Keynr Tracker app from the same page. Open this app and press any hardware key on your phone to find its unique key number.
  4. Open the Button Remapper and identify the key you intend to remap with its number.
  5. Assign the new function to this key. In the State option, select None if you don’t want the key to perform the assigned function when the screen is turned off. Select Wake mode if you want the key to wake up your phone and then perform its function. Wake _Dropped will wake up the phone when the key is pressed but the key function won’t take place.
  6. After you hit Apply, your phone will reboot (if it has busybox installed). If it doesn’t hot reboots, try rebooting manually and then test out the key you remapped.

Remapping Keyboard keys on a Windows Computer/Laptop:


The same result can be obtained on a Windows computer by installing a super light app named KeyTweak. The app presents a simple UI and is pretty straight forward.
  1. Download and install the app from here.
  2. Select any key from the keyboard layout to see what its currently assigned to. Under Choose New Remapping, select the function you want this key to perform. Apart from normal keys present on your keyboard, you can also make a key work like any multimedia key.
  3. My laptop is a 14 inch one, but the app was still showing a full keyboard layout. So, I used the Teach Modes instead.
  4. There are two Teach Modes in the app: Full Teach Mode and Half Teach Mode.
  5. In Full Teach Mode, press Begin Teach Mode and then press the key you want to change. Then press the key you want to assign it to. Finally select Remap Key #1 to Key #2.
  6. Tip: If the second key that is the key you want to work when you press key #1 doesn’t work or is broken, use the Half Teach Mode.
  7. In Half Teach Mode, Click Scan a single key and press the key you want to remap. Once you press the key, it wil show you the scancode. Once the scancode is vissble, select the function you want to assign this key and then hit the remap button.
  8. Once you press the Remap button. It will show a confirmation dialog stating that the Registry changes have been successfully made and that you should reboot your system for changes to take effect.
Few keys that are generally not used often on Android devices are the camera button and the Volume keys. Given the lack of keys on Touch Screen devices, don’t blame me for listing these buttons as rarely used. On a Windows PC, I rarely use any function key (F1, F2,…. F12) except in shortcuts and for refreshing the pages. Also, the Insert, PrintScreen, Home and End buttons are usually waiting for ages to get a hit.


Best of luck with this tutorial and hope you enjoy your newly remapped keys!
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