How Do I Turn Off Hotkeys in Windows?

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Windows 8 includes a range of keyboard shortcuts, such as "Windows-D" to show the desktop and "Windows-E" to open the Computer window. Although convenient, these shortcuts can also get in the way of customizable hotkeys in programs and can interrupt your work or crash full-screen games when pressed accidentally. Windows doesn't include an easy toggle to disable its hotkeys, but changes in the Windows Registry can turn off either one or all of the Windows shortcuts.

The default value of "NoWinKeys" is "0," which has no effect.
(Image courtesy of Microsoft)
Step 1

Press "Windows-R" and run "regedit" to start the Registry Editor.

Open Registry Editor.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 2

Expand the folders in the left pane to reach the directory Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer and click on "Explorer." If you don't already have an Explorer folder inside of the Policies folder, right-click "Policies," choose "New," click "Key" and name the new folder "Explorer."

Browse to the Policies\Explorer key.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Right-click in the blank area of the right pane, choose "New" and select "DWORD (32-bit) Value." Name the new value "NoWinKeys" without quotation marks by typing the name as soon as the new value appears.

Create a new 32-bit DWORD.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 4

Double-click "NoWinKeys" and change the value to "1." Click "OK" and then restart your computer to turn off the Windows hotkeys.

Set the value to "1."
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 1

Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced in the left pane of the Windows Registry Editor and select "Advanced."

Browse to the Explorer\Advanced key.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 2

Right-click on a blank space in the right pane, choose "New" and pick "String Value." As soon as the new value appears in the list, type "DisabledHotkeys" without quotation marks to rename the value.

Create a new string.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Step 3

Type each letter or number hotkey that you want to disable into the Value Data field using capital letters. For example, to disable "Windows-1," "Windows-D" and "Windows-M," type "1DM." Letters and numbers apply both to plain hotkeys -- "M" for "Windows-M" -- and those using modifiers, such as "M" for "Windows-Ctrl-M." Two special hotkeys use alternate codes. To disable "Windows-F1," type a lower-case "p." For "Windows-Pause/Break," type "0x13." Click "OK" and reboot to apply the changes.

Enter hotkeys to disable.
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Tips & Warnings

  • To undo either change, open the Registry Editor, select the value you created -- either "NoWinKeys" or "DisabledHotkeys" -- and press "Del" to delete it. Restart the computer again for the change to take effect.
  • If you accidentally click away of a new value before naming it, select the value and press "F2" to rename it.
  • If you need to undo the change, "Windows-R" won't work to open the Run window. Instead, search for the Registry Editor by typing "regedit" while on the Start screen.
  • Altering other parts of the Windows Registry can cause the system to stop working. Only modify or delete values you created by hand, such as "NoWinKeys."
  • Windows 8 does not provide a method to turn off the Ease of Access shortcuts, such as "Windows-Equals" to open the magnifier. Typing an equals sign into DisabledHotkeys won't have any effect.

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