Customizing hotkeys on keyboard

I use a Dell keyboard, model Y-U0003-DEL5 that has a string of hotkeys on the top of it. These keys for the most part are useless to me because they are primarily for web browsing (back, forward, stop, restart) and other simple tasks such as opening the email client. I wanted to use these keys for other frequent tasks, such as opening Notepad, but so far havent been able to determine how to remap them to something useful.

I came across a series of posts at that discuss these keys and how to modify them. Everything appears to be in the Windows Registry at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AppKey. Here, there are 5 keys that cover the following keys on the keyboard:

  • 7 = Web Browser
  • 15 = Mail
  • 16 = Music
  • 17 = My Computer
  • 18 = Calculator

To remap the keyboard keys, inside each registry key create a String value named ShellExecute. In the data field of the string value, enter the name of command to run, such as notepad.exe

This doesnt cover all the keys: the back, forward, stop, and refresh keys are still outstanding, as are the play, previous, next, and stop keys. However this gives me access to several customized keys.


By using Process Monitor (procmon) from SysInternals, I was able to get some more information about the keyboard buttons. The additional back, forward, stop and refresh buttons are mapped directly to the 1, 2, 3, and 4 registry keys. Just create the correct keys and values and the additional keys are ready to use.

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