Having trouble with Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts because your Windows key is not working?

If you’re the type of person who likes to be very efficient through shortcuts and hotkeys, you’ll realize that the Windows key plays a huge part in navigating around Windows. The Windows operating system has over 50 hotkeys that rely on the Windows key alone, making it debatably the most important non-letter key. 

What makes for an incredibly irritating issue is when the Windows key stops working. This could be a hardware defect, malware infection, or something as menial as ‘Gaming’ mode being on (A setting that disables the Windows key to prevent gamers from accidentally alt-tabbing out of their game). 

In this guide, we’ll be helping you fix your Windows key so you can right back on those helpful shortcuts! 

Let’s get started.

 

1. Troubleshoot Your Problem.

First off, let’s troubleshoot the origin of the problem: Are you using a laptop? 

If you are using a laptop, then try plugging in an external keyboard and see if the Windows key works there. If it works on the external keyboard, chances are your laptop keyboard might be having hardware problems. Hardware problems on your laptop keyboard might only be resolved through the help of a technician, which can be costly. If you don’t mind the space it requires, getting a secondary keyboard is a cheaper option.

 

windows key not working on windows 10

 

What about if you’re on a PC? If so, try plugging in a different keyboard to see if the Windows key works as well. Alternatively, you can also unplug your current keyboard and plug it into another computer to see if the Windows key works there. 

If your PC ignores the Windows key of both keyboards while the second PC registers the keypress, then your PC might have a software problem. However, if your PC registers the Windows key command from the second keyboard, then perhaps your first keyboard has a hardware problem. 

When it comes to hardware problems, there isn’t much you can do in terms of fiddling with your settings, but you can always try!

 

 

2. Check Your Keyboard For Win Lock.

Keyboards over the past few decades have increased significantly in popularity. What used to be a peripheral tool for work, writing, messaging, is now synonymously known as a gaming device. RGB lights, Bluetooth connections, and other special features are one of the many qualities that gaming keyboards offer today. 

If you’re an avid gamer or are using the keyboard of someone who is, chances are their keyboard comes with a Win Lock key. The Win Lock key serves to purposefully disable your Windows key so that players won’t alt-tab out of their game upon accidentally pressing on it.

At the top right of your keyboard, along with the Num Lock lights, check to see for a Win Lock label and see if its light is on. If so, find the corresponding button to make sure it’s off. This should make your Windows key function again like normal.

 

 

3. Enable/Disable Gaming Mode.

For keyboards that don’t include a Win Lock system in their hardware, they usually make up for this by having an entirely different approach. 

‘Gaming mode’ on your keyboard will automatically disable the Windows key button for the aforementioned reasons.

 

Gaming on Windows

 

Different keyboards have different methods for activating ‘Gaming mode’. Generally, it’s located above the F2 and F3 buttons and has a symbol of a joystick. However, if you don’t find this button just go ahead and read through your keyboard manual or do a quick google search for your keyboard’s model. 

Instructions online on how to disable ‘Gaming mode’ for your specific keyboard should be provided by its manufacturer. If the issue still persists, go ahead and proceed to the next methods.

 

 

4. Disable Filter Keys.

Windows 10 has a system option that allows your keyboard to ignore repeated keystrokes from your keyboard. This was introduced to help users who have hand tremors as a result of a medical or physical condition. 

Although blocking the Windows key function is not part of its purpose, the error you’re having could be the result of a bug within the setting.

Here’s how you can disable ‘Filter keys’ on your PC:

  1. Go ahead and open your Settings.
  2. Now, open Ease of Access which is located near the bottom left of the window.
  3. Next, scroll down on the left pane until you can find and select on Keyboard.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Finally, on the main panel scroll down and you should see Filter Keys. Toggle the setting to off. 

After you’ve completed this step ‘Filter Keys’ should no longer filter your key presses. Now try and press on the Windows key to see if it worked.

 

 

5. Enable Your Start Menu.

Is your Windows key broken or is your Start menu disabled? If so, try and test this by pressing down on your Windows key + 1

This should open or switch to the application pinned at the leftmost side of your taskbar. Another simple test is to press on Windows key + D to minimize all your windows and bring up your Desktop.

If you find that these keyboard shortcuts do work, then your Windows key may not be the one that is disabled. Your Start menu (the menu that pops up when you press on the Windows key) may have been disabled, which is why it doesn’t pop up when you press on your Windows key.

Here’s how you can re-enable your Start menu:

  1. First, right-click on your Start menu. The windows logo located at the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Now, select Run and type in ‘regedit’.
  3. A window should pop up called the Registry Editor. After it has opened, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > Advanced.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Once you’re in the Advanced folder go ahead and right-click anywhere on the left pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name it ‘EnableXamlStartMenu’.
  2. Finally, close all your windows and restart your PC.

After the restart, your computer and Start menu should function like normal. Press on the Windows key on your keyboard, and the Start menu should pop up. 

 

 

6. Unplug Your Game Controllers.

When playing on emulators like the XBOX 360 or PS4, it’s often more immersive to buy a console controller for your respective games. This works by mapping your keyboard to the controller.

However, with faulty or outdated drivers, a common bug where the controls are wrongly mapped to the unintended keys can happen. This can result in disabling your Windows key, or even other keys on your keyboard.

 

Game Controller Windows

 

To fix this, simply unplug your game controllers from your PC. If you’re using a PC that is not yours, look around for a controller or gamepad that could be connected to your device.

 

 

7. Update Your Keyboard Drivers.

Outdated drivers don’t always have to come from external controllers. Sometimes our own device’s software can age without us noticing it. Outdated drivers can cause problems like compatibility issues and buggy software. 

Updating your keyboard drivers will usually be over quickly. Although ultimately it is dependent on the speed of your internet, keyboard drivers don’t require much space and can be downloaded quickly.

Here are a few quick and easy steps to updating your keyboard’s driver:

  1. Go ahead and click on the Start menu at the bottom left corner.
  2. Now, type in ‘Device Manager’ and click on the control panel from the query.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Next, expand Keyboards and right-click on your keyboard. Select Update driver.
  2. Choose Search automatically for updated driver software and follow the prompts. If multiple keyboards are listed, either update all of them or distinguish the model that you are using and upgrade that.

Your keyboard drivers should now be fully upgraded and in their latest version. Try pressing on the Windows key to see if it’s fixed. If the error persists go ahead and restart your computer and press on the Windows key again once your PC has fully rebooted.

 

 

8. Use a PowerShell Command.

Windows PowerShell is an incredibly powerful way to access Windows code by sending instructions through its scripted language. This tool is a great way to change, fix, and troubleshoot a lot of your problems.

It’s best to remember though that we are sending commands to Windows through what is essentially programming code. This can be a bit dangerous, but as long as you follow instructions, everything should be fine. 

Here’s how you can use a PowerShell command to fix your Windows key problem.

  1. First, open your Start menu located at the bottom left portion of your screen. 
  2. Quickly search for ‘PowerShell’. Open the app that’s returned from the search query.
  3. Now, copy and paste the following command into PowerShell.

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation) \AppXManifest.xml”}

windows key not working on windows 10

 

Press Enter and run the command. Your Windows key should function again like normal. 

 

 

9. Fix Your Registry.

The Windows Registry is a collection of low-level settings that can be used to alter, fix, remove, or add to your Microsoft experience. The registry can restrict a lot of things in your operating system, as well as your keyboard shortcuts.

Here’s how you can fix your registry settings:

  1. First, right-click on your Start menu. The windows logo located at the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Now, select Run and type in ‘regedit’.
  3. A window should pop up called the Registry Editor. After it has opened, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Keyboard Layout.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Take note that ‘Keyboard Layout’ is singular (not ‘Layouts’). A file named ScanCode Map should be there. Go ahead and right-click on the registry entry and select Delete.
  2. Next, confirm through the warning prompt that you want to delete the entry.
  3. Finally, restart your computer.

When your computer has finished rebooting your Windows key should finally function again like normal. Please do a test and see if you can open the Start menu with the Windows key. 

 

 

10. Initiate an SFC Scan.

Did you recently install Windows 10 on your computer? Or perhaps updated your OS to the latest version? 

Getting a corrupted file after your installation is not an uncommon situation to be in. Luckily, Microsoft prepared a tool for fixing corrupted OS files called an SFC scan. 

By compressing authentic Windows files in a cache, Windows can scan through your operating system and compare these possibly corrupted files with its authentic cached copy. If a file is corrupted, Windows will automatically replace it with a working copy.

Here’s how you can initiate an SFC Scan on your computer:

  1. Go ahead and open your Start menu.
  2. Search for ‘cmd’ and right-click the app that appears in your search query. Select Run as administrator.
  3. Now, type in ‘sfc /scannow’ and press Enter.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. The scan should take around five minutes, depending on the hardware of your system. After the scan is complete, exit the cmd terminal and restart your PC.

Hopefully, with all the corrupted files in your operating system cleaned and replaced, your Windows key should work as intended again. 

 

 

11. Use The DISM Tool.

Now, what happens if the sector running your SFC scan is corrupt? 

Well, Microsoft thought of that too. The DISM tool is responsible for fixing sectors of your hard drive that may have been corrupted. These sectors may not have corrupted files but can have corrupted registry codes, background malfunctions, and other bugs. 

DISM (Deployment Image & Servicing Management) scans can take minutes to hours depending on how badly damaged your hard drive is. Though rest assured, for it to take hours would mean that your computer has more problems than just your Windows key. This means that for this purpose, your scan should finish before an hour.

Here’s how you can use the DISM tool to fix your problem:

  1. Go ahead and open your Start menu.
  2. Search for ‘cmd’ and right-click the app that appears in your search query. Select Run as administrator.
  3. Now, type in ‘DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth’ and press Enter.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Finally, wait for the scan to finish. If you notice that the DISM is stuck at a certain percentage, don’t worry as this is perfectly normal. Once the scan is finished, go ahead and restart your computer.

Now that you’ve done both SFC and DISM scans any software malfunction from Windows related to your problem should be fixed. If you feel like DISM has fixed your SFC scan tool as well, feel free to perform another SFC scan after rebooting your computer.

 

 

12. Perform a Full System Scan.

Initiating full system scans is a good habit for computer maintenance and should be in your interest to do so periodically. Even if you didn’t start having problems with your Windows key, a full system scan is healthy for your PC.

Search through your entire storage database through a full system scan to catch any malware corrupting your files or sabotaging your computer. If you don’t have an antivirus program installed, your default ‘Windows Defender’ does a pretty good job already.

This method can take a few minutes to an hour depending on the size of your hard drive and if you’re using an HDD or an SSD.

Here’s how you can initiate a full system scan:

  1. First, open the Start menu.
  2. Now, search for ‘defender’ and click on the Windows Security program.
  3. Then, a window should pop up with many icons, on the left pane open the shield icon.
  4. Before you initiate a scan, go to Scan options and click on Full scan.

windows key not working on windows 10

 

  1. Scroll down and click Scan now to initiate a full system scan.
  2. Finally, once your scan is complete, go ahead and see how many threats were found. Restart your computer afterward. 

The full system scan should rid your computer of any malware that’s sabotaging your performance. If the scan could not find any malware, then go ahead and proceed to the last method.

 

 

13. Reformat Your Computer.

If you’re completely out of hope and getting your laptop fixed at a hardware store is slowly becoming an appealing option, you can always do this final method.

Reformatting your computer will wipe out all of your settings and apps while keeping your personal files. This will guarantee that your computer starts fresh, with software ideally the same as a new laptop.

In Windows 10, reformatting is an easier task and can be done with just the following steps:

  1. Go ahead and open the Start menu and search for ‘update’.
  2. Once opened, navigate to the left pane and click on Recovery.
  3. Then, under Reset this PC, click on Get Started.

Reset PC on Windows

 

  1. A prompt should open regarding your files. Click Keep my files and follow the prompt until your computer is finally reformatted. 
  2. Your computer should perform a reset on its own, go through your necessary preferences, and set up your computer like before.

Now your computer should be completely restored to its factory settings while still storing all your personal files in its storage.

If all of these steps have failed, it might be in your best interest to look for a nearby servicing store for assistance or to purchase an external keyboard for your laptop instead. Their technicians could help identify a hardware problem that cannot be fixed by just fiddling around your settings.

It’s also worth checking if you qualify for any warranties regarding your device, which should help discount the prices or replace your laptop. 

Now that you have reached the end of this article, we hope that this post helped provide solutions that helped fix your ‘Windows key not working on Windows 10’ issue. If you have other questions related to this article, please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

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