Build your own context menu key

by Matt 17. June 2008 16:26

Turns out, my expensive, stupidly big laptop doesn’t have a context menu key. You know, one of these:

shortcut-menu-key

 

 

 

Now, I’m kind of used to the fact that laptop keyboards layouts are implemented with random number generators, and have pretty much resigned myself to the muscle memory stutter when trying to hit end, home or page up and page down on any particular machine, but to take away my context menu key is just rude.

Especially when they’ve bothered to include a number pad. I’ve already got one set of numbers, thanks.

It’s taken me over a week to find it on my work Dell laptop – head top right then turn left four or five buttons. But it’s completely MIA on my new machine. (But if you use Fn + End, it opens calculator. I have no idea why.)

Fortunately, Windows is smart enough to include a registry value to change the values sent to the system when you press specific keys. Don’t like your keyboard layout? Change it.

Of course, it’s in scary binary format, so download a program to help you. I used SharpKeys, but there are plenty of them out there – they don’t need to install, just to change a single registry value.

So now it was just a choice of which key to use. The closest in physical position was AltGr, which according to Wikipedia, is only useful for getting the Euro sign € and the pipe symbol ¦ on the UK keyboard, and guess what, Windows lets you use Ctrl + Left Alt instead of AltGr.

Which meant a quick map of Right Alt to the “Application” key and a logout later, and I’ve got a working context menu key. Another fine hack.

It might be worth having a bit of a mooch through the list of keys in this tool, though. You can map all sorts of keys to special functions like Media Up and Down, and yes, Calculator.

Of course, I could have just pressed Shift + F10.

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