How to recognize/identify a keypress on Windows 10

A keyboard will have a few essential keys; numbers and letters, and modifiers like Ctrl, Shift, and Alt. Keys like the Home, Insert, Delete key, and even the Windows key are all optional. You might even find keyboards that do not have a row of function keys, though those will be rare. Regardless of which keys you have, they will definitely be labeled. Unconventional keys are normally a problem when an OS fails to recognize them, or they do not act as intended by the keyboard manufacturer. In order to troubleshoot problems with keyboard keys, you need to figure out which key is being tapped/pressed. Here’s how you can identify a keypress on Windows 10.

Since keys vary in their nature, we’re going to recommend a few different tools for you to try out. They’re all free but you should try each one when you’re trying to identify a key’s function.

Sharpkeys

Sharpkeys is an app for modifying or remapping keyboard keys on Windows 10. It has a built-in tool for recognizing keys that are pressed. Download, install and run the app. Click the Add button on the app’s main interface. On the ‘Add New Key Mapping’ window, click the ‘Type Key’ button and then type the key you want to identify. The app will return the name and scancode for the key.

Keyboard checker

This tool is more meant to check if a key is actually working or not. It doesn’t always identify the key but if you suspect a keypress isn’t being recognized for a key that should be easy to identify for Windows 10, use this app to test it. Visit Keyboard Checker and tap the key you want to test. If a key on the on-screen keyboard turns green, that means the keypress is being recognized however, the keyboard you see is NOT going to be an accurate representation of the keyboard you’re using. For keys that aren’t on the keyboard, scroll down and it will tell you which was the last key pressed.

If you’re running anything that will intercept the keypress before the app is able to read it, you should disable it first. A common example is an AutoHotKey script that’s written to remap keys. Disable all such scripts and then use KeyboardChecker.

Keycodes

This is a tool that I found when trying to remap the special keys on my keyboard. These special keys are as unconventional as they get. Many keyboards have them and there is no standardization when it comes to their function or how they will interact with an OS. That makes it particularly hard to figure out what a key does. Visit Keycodes and tap the key. The app will not tell you which key is pressed. Instead, it will tell you what event was triggered, among other things, when you tapped a key. It is going to take a little work to figure out what the key is doing with the information that Keycodes gives you but for particularly obscure keys, this is the app for the job.

These three tools should do the job when it comes to identifying a keypress. If all three fail to identify a key, it is possible that the key is either not working or that it isn’t sending any sort of input to Windows 10. In this case, it is likely impossible to map or customize the key. If the key is a common one then it is broken. You can have it repaired or you can try using a different keyboard with the same key on it and see if Windows 10 is able to receive input from it. If it is, then it will confirm that the key is indeed broken on your keyboard.

Windows 10 has an on-screen keyboard which can also highlight the key that’s pressed. If you feel the key you’re trying to identify is basic, you can try the on-screen keyboard first.

Read How to recognize/identify a keypress on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to uninstall a portable app on Windows 10

Portable apps, by their very definition, are not installed. They can run as stand-alone files though that doesn’t necessarily mean you can run them without admin rights. Portable apps may not need to be installed but, they do still create a few additional files on your system when you run them. In some cases, they might create more than one folder though as a user, you will normally have the option to choose where the folder is created. If you suspect a portable app that you ran on your system has left residual files, here’s how you can remove them.

Uninstall a portable app

The key to uninstalling a portable app is simple; quit the app, delete the EXE. That is enough. Even if residual files remain, they won’t be able to run in the absence of the EXE that was coded to run/read them. Now you just have junk files on your system that you need to get rid of.

Check app folder

When you run a portable app, it is located in a folder like any other file on your system. This may be the desktop folder, the Downloads folder, or any other folder e.g., the one that you extracted or moved the app to. This is the first place to check for residual files. If you see any files or folders related to the portable app you deleted, go ahead and delete them all.

Startup folder

With portable apps, it is assumed that certain features such as running at startup or storing user preferences will not be available. That is not the case. Many portable apps are able to run at startup but when you remove them, their startup folder entries remain. Thankfully, since they’re portable apps, the startup folder entry is made for just the one user, and not all users.

To check for and delete such an entry, open the run box with the Win+R keyboard shortcut and enter the following.

shell:startup

In the startup folder that opens, look for any shortcut files that are for the portable app that you’ve removed.

Check AppData

Finally, more complex portable apps such as portable browsers will create folders inside the AppData folder. Again, when you first run the portable app, it will show you or ask you where it can create a folder to run from and store essential files. If it doesn’t, and you suspect that there are still files for the app remaining, open the run box with the Win+R keyboard shortcut. Enter the following, and tap the Enter key.

%appdata%

You will see three folders in the AppData folder. Go through all of them and check if any residual files remain for the portable app.

Registry entries

It is extremely rare for a portable app to make additions or changes to the Windows Registry. The apps that need to do so will prompt you, and you will need to authorize the edit with admin rights. The unfortunate thing is that when you remove the portable app, the registry edits still remain. If you suspect an app has made modifications to the registry, you can run two tools to help you figure out where those entries are, and delete them. The first tool is Autoruns. The second tool is MalwareBytes.

It goes without saying that tracking down registry entries isn’t easy. You can Google if a particular app modifies the registry and it might help you narrow down which key or value to look for and remove.

Read How to uninstall a portable app on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to remap default folders on Windows 10

When you install Windows 10, it comes with a few folders already added to your user folder. These are the Desktop, Pictures, Videos, Downloads, Documents, Music, and 3D Objects folders. These folders aren’t like other folders. They’re Windows library folders and they’re the default locations that many apps access when saving files, or downloading them. By default, these folders are nested inside your user folder on the C drive however, you can change their location without breaking their ‘library’ function. Here’s how you can remap default folders on Windows 10.

Remap default folders on Windows 10

Open File Explorer to This PC and all the default folders will be listed under ‘Folders’. Right-click the folder that you want to move, and select Properties from the context menu. On the Properties window, go to the Location tab, and click the ‘Move’ button.

Select where you’d like files from this folder to be saved to. You can select a location on the current drive i.e., the C drive, or on a different drive however, you should NOT move the folder to the root of any drive. Make sure you create a new folder at the root of the drive you want to move the default folder to and nest the folder under it.

Click Apply. You will see a few prompts. The first will ask if you want to create a folder for the default folder within the folder that you selected. Go ahead and create it. The second prompt will ask if you want to move all files from the original/default location to the new one. Again, click Yes and move the files.

The folder that you add the library/default folder to won’t be visible in the drive but you will see the library folder itself. If you ever want to restore it to its default location, right-click it and select Properties from the context menu. Go to the Location tab and click the ‘Restore Default’ button. Confirm the on-screen prompts and the folder will be moved back to its original location.

Moving these folders doesn’t have much benefit unless you’re using a small SSD with a large HDD. In this case, moving these folders to the hard drive will save space on the SSD.

We should caution you that while this is a harmless change on Windows 10, not all programs/apps may like it or be able to work properly with the new folder locations. It’s highly unlikely that anything will break but it’s not impossible.

Read How to remap default folders on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to move the Desktop folder out of OneDrive on Windows 10

OneDrive is deeply integrated in Windows 10 even though getting rid of it is as simple as uninstalling an app from the Control Panel. Even if you never set up OneDrive, and immediately remove it from Windows 10, chances are it will still have an impact on your system. Case in point, the Desktop folder might reside inside the default OneDrive folder. If that’s the case, here’s how you can move the Desktop folder out of OneDrive.

Remove OneDrive

If you haven’t already, you should remove OneDrive if you do not plan on using it. If you plan on using OneDrive but simply do not want the Desktop folder to be nested inside the OneDrive folder, you can still move it while keeping the app on your system. The point is if you do not plan on using this particular app, removing it is best.

Move desktop folder out of OneDrive

Navigate to the OneDrive folder. It’s still going to be there even if you’ve uninstalled the app. You can find it at the following location;

C:\Users\YourUserName\OneDrive\

Right-click the Desktop folder, and select Properties from the context menu. On the Properties window, go to the Location tab, and click the Restore Defaults button.

After you click this button, you will see a series of prompts confirming that you want to move the location of the folder. We strongly encourage you to read them before you confirm all of them. The files inside the Desktop folder will be moved when the folder itself is moved to its new/default location. There’s no need to worry about losing data but, you should read all three prompts, regardless.

Once the Desktop folder has been moved to its default location, you will be able to access it from here;

C:\Users\YourUserName\Desktop

All links to the desktop folder e.g., the one in Quick Access in the navigation pane in File Explorer, or the Desktop listed under This PC in the navigation pane in File Explorer will be updated automatically. Clicking Desktop will take you directly to the desktop.

If you manually created a link/shortcut to the desktop in some other folder, it is likely going to break after you move it back to its default location. You will have to update the folder path that you’ve given in the shortcut or link.

If you’re wondering why OneDrive was housing your Desktop, it’s so that you have access to it on all your Windows 10 systems. This is a way to sync desktop files between multiple systems and give users a more seamless transition between them.

Read How to move the Desktop folder out of OneDrive on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to log clipboard entries on Windows 10

Clipboard entries generally do not need to be logged. In fact, apps that log them are usually malicious in nature. That said, if you do need to log your clipboard entries to a text file, the easiest way to do it is with ClipLogger. ClipLogger can maintain a log of all text that’s copied to your clipboard. Since it is a text-based log, any file that you copy to the clipboard is included as a file path. Here’s how it works.

Log clipboard entries

Download ClipLogger and run it. The app doesn’t need to be installed. By default, it will log both text and files but you have the option to log just the text or just the files. The app doesn’t save the entries to a text file by default. To enable the feature, click the Settings button at the bottom left.

On the Settings window, enable the ‘Backup contents to file’ option. The app will create a new text file in the same folder that its EXE is in and it will write to it recursively. You can limit how many items are logged from the ‘Max logged length’ field.

Minimize the app to the system tray and it will work in the background. You can view your clipboard history in the app’s interface.

The log file is going to be simple; each entry will show what date and time text or a file was copied.

ClipLogger has an option in its settings to run the app at startup and while it may be useful, we strongly discourage users from enabling it. If you’re going to maintain a log of everything that is copied to your clipboard, you should be aware that you’re doing it. To have a clipboard logging app run at startup without you consciously running it might make you forget you have it running and cause problems later.

On that note, we have to caution you about what items you copy to your clipboard. If you copy sensitive information to your clipboard, it’s a good idea to have a way to scrub it immediately. There’s an app that can periodically clear the clipboard on Windows 10 that you should consider using with ClipLogger if you tend to copy sensitive information often. The two will work perfectly together because ClipLogger does not log an item to the clipboard until a new item has been copied to it. This means that if the item is scrubbed clean before a new one is copied, it likely will not be included in the log.

Read How to log clipboard entries on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter