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How to disable the Windows key on any Windows computer?

By Emmanuel Seriki | August 3, 2020 |

greater than 7 minutes

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You – like many users – may find it annoying when you hit the Windows button on your keyboard and the Windows Start screen comes up. In some scenarios, that action causes you to get kicked out of a game in full screen. In that case, you may be looking to learn all the ways of disabling the Windows key in Windows 10 – and for good reasons too.

Is there a way to disable Windows key?

Yes, there is a way. In fact, there are several ways or procedures through which you get to disable the Windows key on your machine. The easiest method requires you to use Microsoft’s free PowerToys utility. This application allows you to reassign any key to a specific function.

We will first show you how to use the PowerToys app to disable the Windows key on your computer. We also intend to describe other procedures used to stop the Windows key from functioning on any keyboard for a Windows 10 machine.

How to disable the Windows key on a PC

We strongly recommend the first method of disabling the Windows button – since it is the easiest of the lot. If it fails or if it does not apply in your case, you are free to move to other procedures.

  1. Disable the Windows button through PowerToys:

The PowerToys utility grants you the ability to assign keys to specific functions. Therefore, to disable the Windows key on your keyboard, all you have to do is map the Windows key to Undefined. This way, with the new setting in place, nothing will happen when you press the Windows key.

These instructions cover everything:

  • First, you have to get Microsoft’s PowerToys – if you do not have the utility installed on your computer already.

PowerToys is the app resulting from a free, open-source project that adds many powerful features and useful functionalities to the Windows operating system. If you are looking to get the most from Windows – especially as a power user – then you need PowerToys on your computer. You can get the app from GitHub.

  • Now, you have to open the PowerToys utility.
  • From the options on the side (to the left of PowerToys’ window), you must click on Keyboard Manager.
  • Click on the toggle for Enable Keyboard Manager to set it to On – if this parameter is currently set to Off.
  • Click on Remap a key (under the Remap keyboard section).

You will be directed to the Remap Keyboards screen.

  • Now, you have to click on the add icon (+ sign).

PowerToys will now prompt you to add a mapping definition. Normally, to change a key mapping, you simply have to select the key (for which you want to change things) and then define what you now want the key to do in the right column.

  • Now, click on the drop-down menu under Key (on the left of the PowerToys window).

The list of available keys will be brought up now.

  • Choose Win.

You have just selected the Windows key (Win). Now, you must proceed to define a new function for it.

  • Here, click on the drop-down menu under Mapped to (on the right of the PowerToys window).

The list of available functions will be brought up now.

  • Choose Undefined.

You have now specified Undefined as the function for Win (the Windows key).

  • Finally, you must click on the OK button.

Your computer is likely to bring up a prompt warning you that you will no longer be able to use the Win (Windows key) because it is now unassigned.

  • Click on the Continue Anyway button.

Well, if you did everything correctly, then your Windows key should now be disabled. You will not have to worry about it because the changes you made in PowerToys (to define a new configuration) have been saved and things will stay that way.

  • You are now free to close the PowerToys app. You can use your computer as you usually do.

If you later change your mind on your decision to disable the Windows key, then you can easily reverse the changes you made to turn it off. These are the relevant steps:

  • First, you have to open the PowerToys utility.
  • Go to the Keyboard Manager menu.
  • Click on Remap a key.
  • Now, you must locate the Win à Undefined mapping (that you used to disabled the Windows key in the first place).
  • Delete the mapping (by clicking on the trash can icon).
  • If a window comes up, you have to click on OK to dismiss it.

The Windows button on your PC’s keyboard should now work normally.

  1. Disable the Windows button through the registry:

Here, to disable the Windows button, we will walk you through a procedure to make changes to the registry to that effect. We must warn you, however, that editing tasks performed on the registry may be risky.

If you make mistakes while working on the registry – which may result in your computer’s registry becoming corrupted – your PC may refuse or fail to boot – and you might have to reinstall Windows 10 and lose some data. For this reason, you may want to create a backup of your machine’s registry in its current state. After working on the registry, if you realize that something went wrong, you will easily be able to fix things using the registry backup file.

In any case, these are the instructions you must follow to work on the registry to disable the Windows key:

  • First, you have to get to the Windows screen. Press the Windows button on your PC’s keyboard, or you can click on the Windows icon on your display.
  • Type Regedit into the search box that appears the moment you begin to type something.
  • Once Registry Editor (App) comes up as the primary entry on the results list, you have to click on it to open the application.
  • If your system brings up a UAC (User Account Control) prompt to get confirmation, you must click on the Yes button to affirm things.
  • Assuming you are now on the Registry Editor window, you have to look to the top-left corner, and then click on Computer (to expand its contents).
  • Now, you must navigate through the directories on this path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer
  • Here, you must click on the Explorer key to get it highlighted. Right-click on it to see its options menu.
  • Click on New to see a list. Choose DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  • Fill the box for name with NoWinKeys and then click on the OK button to save the new value.
  • Now, you must double-click on the NoWinKeys entry (the value you just created).

Your computer will bring up the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value window for the selected NoWinKeys.

  • Here, you must delete whatever you find in the box for Value data and then put 1
  • Now, you must click on the OK button to save the changes and dismiss the window.
  • Close the Registry Editor application.
  • Now, you have to close other programs (if they are open) and then restart your PC.

The restart is the final step that ensures Windows takes the changes made to the registry into account.

If you made the right changes to the registry (based on the instructions we provided), after the recommended reboot, your Windows key will no longer work.

If you later change your mind regards the Windows key – if you want the Windows key to start working again – then you simply have to undo the effect of the changes you made to the registry. To enable the Windows key again, you have to do this:

Go through the steps above, open the Registry Editor, navigate through the appropriate directories to get to your destination, locate the NoWinKeys, double-click on it to see its Properties window, delete whatever you find in the box for Value data, and then put 0 there, or you can simply delete the NoWinkeys (to get the same result). Here too, you have to restart your PC to finish things.

  1. Disable the Windows key through Group Policy:

The Group Policy is accessible to users with machines running the Pro, Enterprise, or Education version of Windows 10 – and the method we are about to describe applies only to those individuals.

If you have Windows 10 Home installed on your device, then you cannot disable the Windows button through the procedure here – because your computer lacks the Group Policy in the first place.

These are the instructions you must follow to disable the Windows key through Group Policy:

  • First, you have to go to the Windows Start screen. You can use the Windows button here (for now).
  • Now, you must type Group Policy into the text box that gets brought up the moment you begin to type something.
  • Once Edit Group Policy (Control Panel) comes up as the primary entry on the results list, you have to click on it to launch the needed app.
  • Assuming the Local Group Policy Editor window is now on your screen, you have to look to its top-left corner and then click on Local Computer Policy (to see its contents).
  • At this point, you have to navigate through the directories on this list:

User Configuration \ Administrative Templates \ Windows Components \ File Explorer

  • Here, assuming you are inside File Explorer, you must look to the right of the app’s window (to see File Explorer’s contents).
  • Now, you must go through the list of configuration settings. Scroll down. Find Turn off Windows Key hotkeys and then double-click on it.

Your system will now bring up the Turn off Windows Key hotkeys window.

  • Click on Enabled (its radio button) to select this parameter.
  • Now, you must click on OK to save the new configuration for Turn off Windows Key hotkeys.
  • Close the Local Group Policy Editor app.
  • Now, you have to restart your computer.

Windows is guaranteed to take note of the changes made to Group Policy only after a reboot.

If you did everything correctly – to define a new configuration for the right policy in Group Policy – then the Windows key should be disabled now.

If you ever decide to bring back the Windows button (to make it usable again), then you have to undo the changes you made to the configuration for the Turn off Windows Key hotkeys policy in Group policy this way:

Go through the same steps above, open the Local Group Policy Editor, navigate through the right directories, locate the Turn off Windows Keys hotkeys policy, bring up its configuration window, select Disabled or Not Configured, and then click on the OK button to save your work. Then, you have to close the Group Policy app and (finally) restart your PC to allow Windows to take note of the changes.

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