In the corner of your keyboard, sits an unmanaged key with a long history: Scroll Lock. Fortunately, you can easily remap Scroll Lock to serve a more useful purpose, or configure it as a shortcut to launch programs on Windows 10.
But, it’s been useful
The Scroll Key Key is on the first IBM PC released in 1981. This is intended to enable the feature that you can use the arrow keys to move text inside the window, not the cursor. Currently, the function of the arrow keys in most programs is automatically based on context. As a result, the Scroll Lock feature is rarely used as originally intended.
However, one prominent program still uses Scroll Lock for its original purpose: Microsoft Excel. If Scroll Lock is disabled, you use the arrow keys to move the cursor between cells. When Scroll Lock is activated, you can use the arrow keys to scroll through all the workbook pages in the window.
Many KVM switches will switch inputs if you tap Scroll Lock twice. Some older programs also use Scroll Lock, but this is a relatively rare scenario for most people.
In fact, Scroll Lock is rarely used, it might not be on your keyboard at all – especially if it’s a laptop keyboard or a compact keyboard.
If you do have a Scroll Lock button and have never touched it, you can use it to do something useful.
How to Remap Scroll Keys
Using Microsoft’s free PowerToys utility for Windows 10, you can easily remap the Scroll key to another key or some system function. Remapping means that when you press Scroll Lock, instead of activating Scroll Lock, the key will do something else. In this way, you can potentially use the Scroll Lock key for many different tasks.
Here are some suggested functions that you can assign to the Key Scroll key:
- Mute / Unmute volume: Quickly control the audio volume from any source. This is very useful if you need to silence your computer to receive calls.
- Media Play / Pause: This is useful if you often listen to music on the computer. All you have to do is tap Key Scroll to pause the song, then tap again to play.
- Sleep: One tap will put your device in Sleep mode.
- Caps Lock: If you always hit Caps Lock by accident, you can assign it to the Scroll Lock key. You must also deactivate the Caps Lock key by setting other functions.
Refresh browser: One tap will quickly reload the current web page.
If one of these sounds good to you, here’s how to map the desired function back to the Scroll Key button. First, if you don’t have one already, download Microsoft PowerToys. Launch, then “Keyboard Manager” in the sidebar. Next, click “Remap key.”
In the “Remap Keyboard” window that appears, click the plus sign (+) to add a shortcut.
On the left, you must specify the key that you are remapping. Click “Type Key,” and then press Scroll Lock.
In the “Mapped to” section on the right, click the drop-down menu, and then select the function or key you want to map to Scroll Lock. For example, from our list above, you can select “Volume Mute.”
Click “OK” to close the “Remap Keyboard” window, and Scroll Lock must be remapped successfully.
You can experiment with various mappings to see which is most useful. If at any time you like mapping, revisit the “Remap Keyboard” window in PowerToys. Click the Trash icon next to the mapping to delete it.
If you like PowerToys, you can also remap buttons with SharpKeys, even though the interface is not very user friendly.
How to Launch the Program with the Key Scroll Key
You can also use Scroll Lock as part of a shortcut key combination to launch any program like, and you don’t need to use special utilities.
First, create a shortcut to the program that you want to run and place it on your Desktop. Then, right-click the shortcut and select “Properties.”
On the Shortcut tab, click the “Shortcut Key” box, and then press Scroll Lock. Windows will automatically enter “Ctrl + Alt + Scroll Lock” into the box.
Click “OK” to close the window. From now on, every time you press Ctrl + Alt + Scroll Lock, the program is represented by a shortcut that will be launched. Make sure you don’t delete the shortcut. Some people save application shortcuts that activate hotkeys in specific folders for that reason.
You never know – with this tweak, Scroll Lock might become your new favorite key. You might even wonder how you can live without it.