When Google released its first Chromebook, reviewers praised the way its designers had left the Caps lock key out of the keyboard. They felt that the Caps lock key was a vestige of another era. Modern writing doesn’t need a Caps lock key. Mostly, it only serves as a key to hit by accident.
Many people use a Windows registry hack to disable the Caps lock on their keyboard. If you do plan to go to all the trouble of performing a registry hack, though, there is no reason to use it to waste a perfectly good key and disable it. You can emulate Mac OS X users and simply remap it to something useful.
What could you reassign it to?
Google’s Chromebook has the right idea – on the Chromebook, the place on the keyboard that is usually occupied by the Caps lock key is given over to a Search key. It could be an idea to remap the Caps lock key on your laptop’s keyboard to a search function, too.
Getting into the registry
You can remap the Caps lock key in one of two ways. You can either use third-party software or do it with a registry alteration. Since messing about in the registry can be difficult, it is best to use software that helps you get into the registry through a graphical user interface.
To begin, you should first download the registry alteration software that helps you get the job done. SharpKeys (at sharpkeys.codeplex.com) is a good, free choice.
When you run SharpKeys, it opens with an empty box with an Add button. You need to press that button to begin a new key remapping assignment. Right away, you see two columns. On the column to the left, you need to select the Caps lock key. On the right, you need to assign a function to it.
Some people wish to disable the Caps lock key entirely instead of reassigning it. If this is what you want, you should pick a function on the right column that you never use – like one of the F keys. When you hit OK and then Write to registry , SharpKeys goes about making the registry adjustments needed.
Making the Caps lock key do something useful
If you would like to actually use your Caps lock key for something useful – such as to open an Internet search browser window, you have a little more work to do – you need to take the F key that you just assigned the Caps lock key to and reassign it.
You first need to create a shortcut on your computer and assign it to open whatever search engine you like – Google, Bing or any other. To do this, go to any Explorer window (or your Desktop ), right-click, select New and then Shortcut . In the Shortcut dialog box, type in the URL of the search engine that you like, press Next and name the shortcut anything you want. When you press Finish , you’ll have a shortcut.
Next, you need to right-click on the shortcut and select Properties . The Properties box opens on the second tab – called Web document . On this tab, you need to click on the Shortcut key field and press the F key that you assigned the Caps lock key to. When press OK , your assignment is made.
It might occur to you that you could simply directly reassign the Caps lock key as the Shortcut key in the Web document tab. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t allow the Caps lock key to the reassigned in this way.