How to remap any key or shortcut in Windows 11

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Microsoft PowerToys is a handy utility for Windows that lets you customize all sorts of things about Windows, from the behavior of windows on your screen to keyboard shortcuts. This is how you can use PowerToys to reassign your favorite (or least favorite!) Shortcuts.

Download PowerToys from Microsoft and install it

PowerToys does not come pre-installed on Windows; you need to download it manually. Microsoft recommends that you download PowerToys directly from GitHub. You should get the latest version; it will always be the one closest to the top.

RELATED: What is GitHub and what is it for?

Make sure you get the correct version for your PC. Most Windows desktops and laptops use 64-bit Intel or AMD processors, so download the installer that has “x64” in the name somewhere. Click on the “.exe” file once it has finished downloading and follow the instructions.

ARM-based processors are becoming more and more common in the PC, so you might have one. You can always see what CPU is in your PC and then look up the model number to be sure. Alternatively, you can take a guess: if you try to install the wrong one, it won’t harm your computer, you’ll just see an error message.

The error message you'll get if you try to install an ARM64 program on a x64 PC.

The other option is to install PowerToys from the Microsoft Store. Just click “Install” and everything will be handled automatically. The only minor drawback is that the Microsoft Store version updates a bit slower than the GitHub version, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer to fix bugs.

Note: If you wish, you can also install PowerToys via a command line. Open Terminal, make sure it’s a PowerShell tab, then copy and paste winget install Microsoft.PowerToys --source winget in the window and press Enter.

Use PowerToys to remap keys or shortcuts

Launch PowerToys and click “Keyboard Manager” on the left side.

Make sure “Enable Keyboard Manager” is in the “On” position; should be by default. There are two options: “Remap a key” and “Remap a shortcut”.

Make sure the toggle is set to "Activated".

The names mostly speak for themselves. “Reassign a key” allows you to assign a key to a different key, a key to a shortcut, or a key to a function.

RELATED: Windows Task Manager: The Complete Guide

As a silly example, you could use “Remap a key” to map the “T” key to “Ctrl + V” so that pressing “T” triggers the paste function. Could you map the “[” and “]Keys for “Volume Down” and “Volume Up”, respectively.

Advice: You can select a key, shortcut, or function using the drop-down menus, or you can click “Type.” If you click “Type”, you only need to press the key you want instead of scrolling through the list.

An example mapping the "[" key to volume down and the "]"volume up key.

You’re mostly limited by the fact that there aren’t many keys on your keyboard that can be reasonably bounced to other keys, shortcuts, or functions without affecting your ability to use your computer normally.

“Reassign a shortcut” is more useful in that regard. Unlike “Remap a Key”, “Remap a Shortcut” allows you to combine multiple keystrokes and assign them to another shortcut or function, and you can even make the reassign application specific. That gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to work with almost any pre-existing shortcut that might cause a conflict.

RELATED: 30 Essential Windows Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows 10

Select your new key combination, select the shortcut or function you want to assign the new key combination to, and then choose the application you want to use it with.

Leave “Target Application” blank for system-wide remapping. If you want a reassignment to apply only to a specific program, you must enter the name of the program’s executable in the box.

Advice: You can open Terminal and enter the “task list” command to get a list of currently running processes. It will display the name you need to enter in the “Target Application” box in the “Image Name” column.

Enter the desired shortcut, select the key, shortcut, or function you want to assign it to, and then select the application you want to use it with.

Now instead of mapping “[” and “]”For” Volume Down “and” Volume Up “, you can assign” Ctrl +[” to “Volume Down” and “Ctrl+]” to “Volume Up”, and you don’t need to worry about disturbing your ability to insert brackets or brackets at all. If I wanted I could map “Ctrl (Left) + Shift (Right) + T” to “Delete” and do it only apply in GIMP.

An example of reassignment. "Ctrl + Shift + T" has been assigned to the role "Remove"but only in GIMP.

Many apps let you reassign shortcuts or features within their settings, but some don’t; are ideal candidates for the PowerToys reassignment utility. However, Microsoft specifically warns that it may not perform well in games, so test it thoroughly before joining a competitive match.