If you prefer to use an older classic keyboard like the IBM Model M that doesn’t include a physical Windows key, there is a neat way to “add” one using Windows 10 by borrowing a key that you don’t use often. Here’s how to do it.
By using the free PowerToys utility from Microsoft, you can easily reassign any key to work like other keys (or even give them new functions such as turning off your audio). In our case, we will assign the Windows key function to the key of your choice.
(By default, the Command key on a Mac keyboard functions as a Windows key if it is plugged into a Windows 10 machine. There’s no need to use this trick when you use a Mac keyboard with Windows – just use the “Command” key as your Windows key.)
First, if you don’t already have PowerToys for Windows 10, download it for free from the Microsoft website. After that, launch PowerToys, and click the “Keyboard Manager” option in the sidebar. In the “Keyboard Manager” option, click “Remap A Key.”
In the “Remap Keyboard” window that appears, click the plus sign (+) to add key mappings.
Now you have to decide which key you want to duplicate as the Windows key. We found that the right Alt key works very well (if you have one), because it’s easy to use for one-hand Windows shortcuts and most people use the left Alt key more often. You can also choose keys that are rarely used, such as Scroll Lock or Right Ctrl. This is entirely up to you.
When defining mapping in PowerToys, use the drop-down menu under the “Key:” heading on the left to select a key that only wants to function as your Windows key. In this example, we use “Alt (Right).”
In the “Mapped to” section on the right, select “Win” (which represents the Windows key) from the drop-down menu.
Click “OK.” Windows might give you a color that the key you selected won’t work because you were transferred to another function. In this case, just click “Continue.”
After that, the new Windows key mapping must be active. Test it. If you tap the button that you set for Windows, your Start Menu will appear. From then on, you should also be able to use it to launch practical shortcuts such as Windows + I to open Settings.
When you are ready, close PowerToys, and you can use the computer as usual. You don’t need to exit or restart your PC; Your changes will take effect immediately.
How to Delete a New Windows Key Mapping
If you change your mind and want to assign a different key to Windows or restore the key function that you re-created, launch PowerToys, and navigate to Keyboard Manager> Remap A Key.
Find the mapping you specified earlier and click the trash can to delete it. Then click “OK” to close the window. After that, you are free to make a new mapping or simply close the Power Toys.