Productivity

App Directory: The Best Key Remapper For Windows

If you wish your keyboard’s keys were laid out just a tad differently, you can change it around with a keyboard remapper. Windows users have a few to choose from, but the easiest to use is certainly KeyTweak, which presents you with a full, visual keyboard layout and multiple methods for changing it.

KeyTweak

Platform: Windows
Price: Free
Download Page

  • Remap any key on the keyboard, including special media or web keys
  • Choose remapped keys from a list or press the desired key to remap using “Teach Mode”
  • Remove all remappings with a single button
  • Enable/Disable annoying keys
  • Warnings make sure the Ctrl+Alt+Delete shortcut is always available

KeyTweak makes remapping keys a cinch, whether you’re an experienced user or a beginner. You can click on the key you want to change using a visual layout of your keyboard, then select the new function from a list, or use its “Teach Mode” to remap just by pressing the desired keys. Support for media keys is especially nice, and you can restore all the defaults with a single button click, in case something goes wrong. Simply put, KeyTweak is the easiest remapper out there.

KeyTweak doesn’t remap keyboard shortcuts, like Alt+Tab or Ctrl+Alt+Delete, but that also isn’t really its job — see something like AutoHotkey for that functionality. Its only real downside is that you have to install the program — you can’t just run a portable version. Other than that, it’s about as good as it gets.

If you don’t need the Teach Mode that KeyTweak provides, MapKeyboard is a great alternative. It provides a visual keyboard layout, letting you click on keys and choose their new function via a dropdown. Its big advantage over KeyTweak is that it’s available as a portable app, which means you don’t need to install anything. Just extract the zip file anywhere you want and run the program.

SharpKeys is another great portable key tweaker, which doesn’t include a visual layout — just a simple two column view that lets you remap your keys. It isn’t quite as easy to use as KeyTweak or MapKeyboard, but it works well, and doesn’t require any installation.

If you want to change the entire layout of your keyboard rather than just a few keys, you probably want something more like the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. You can create a new layout from scratch, base one on an existing popular layout, and otherwise change the entire keyboard. It’s great for adding new language support to Windows, adding symbols to your keyboard, or trying something like the Dvorak layout for faster typing.

Know of an even better key remapper that we didn’t mention? Let us know about it in the comments.

Lifehacker’s App Directory is a growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.