How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10

Some keyboards include additional keys on them that when pressed will open a Windows app or perform a specific action (command). The app keys available will vary per keyboard model, but the most common are Calculator, Mail, Mute volume, Search, and default Web Browser.

This tutorial will show you how to disable or change which app or action an app key on a keyboard will run when pressed in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

You must be signed in as an administrator to customize an app key.




Here's How:

1 Press the Win + R keys to open Run, type regedit into Run, and click/tap on OK to open Registry Editor.

2 Navigate to the key below in the left pane of Registry Editor. (see screenshot below)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AppKey

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-appkey.png

3 Expand open the AppKey key, and click/tap on an available number key (ex: "18") you want to change. (see screenshot below)

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-appkey-2.png

Key Description
1 Back (Web browser)
2 Forward (Web browser)
3 Refresh (Web browser)
4 Stop (Web browser)
5 Search
6 Favorites (Web browser)
7 Web Home (Web browser)
8 Mute Volume
9 Volume Down
10 Volume Up
11 Next Track (media)
12 Previous Track (media)
13 Stop (media)
14 Pause/Play (media)
15 Mail
16 Media Select
17 This PC or My Computer
18 Calculator
19 Bass Down
20 Bass Boost
21 Bass Up
22 Treble Down
23 Treble Up
24 Mute Microphone
25 Volume Down Microphone
26 Volume Up Microphone
27 Help
28 Find
29 New
30 Open
31 Close
32 Save
33 Print
34 Undo
35 Redo
36 Copy
37 Cut
38 Paste
39 Reply (mail)
40 Forward (mail)
41 Send (mail)
42 Spell Check
43 Toggle Dictation on/off
44 Toggle Microphone on/off
45 Correction List
46 Play (media)
47 Pause (media)
48 Record (media)
49 Fast Forward (media)
50 Rewind (media)
51 Channel Up (media)
52 Channel Down (media)
53 Delete
54 Flip 3D

4 Do step 5 (ShellExecute), step 6 (Association), or step 7 (Undo - default) below for how you want to change the key.

You can only use the ShellExecute or Association string value or none for a key. You cannot use both the ShellExecute and Association string values together for a key.


5 Use "ShellExecute" to Set Key to Run Specified App or Command

This step will let you customize the key to open a specified app, or run any command like in a command prompt.

A) In the right pane of the key (ex: "18"), double click/tap on the ShellExecute string value (REG_SZ) to modify it. (see screenshot below)

If you do not have a ShellExecute string value (REG_SZ), right click or press and hold on an empty area in the right pane of the key (ex: "18"), click/tap on New, click/tap on String Value, type ShellExecute for the value name, and press Enter.

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-shellexecute-1.png

B) Type either the full path of the app you want the key to open, or type the command you want the key run, click/tap on OK, and go to step 8. (see screenshot below)

If you leave the value data empty (blank) for ShellExecute, it will disable the key.

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-shellexecute-2.png


6 Use "Association" to Set Key to Open Default App of Specified File Extension

This step will let you customize the key to open whatever default app (ex: "Notepad") set for the specified file type extension (ex: ".txt").

A) In the right pane of the key (ex: "18"), double click/tap on the Association string value (REG_SZ) to modify it. (see screenshot below)

If you do not have a Association string value (REG_SZ), right click or press and hold on an empty area in the right pane of the key (ex: "18"), click/tap on New, click/tap on String Value, type Association for the value name, and press Enter.

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-association-1.png

B) Type the file extension (ex: ".txt") you want the key to open the default app for, click/tap on OK, and go to step 8. (see screenshot below)

If you leave the value data empty (blank) for Association, it will disable the key.

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-association-2.png


7 To Undo "Association" or "ShellExecute" to Restore Default for Key

A) In the right pane of the key (ex: "18"), right click or press and hold on the Association or ShellExecute string value (REG_SZ), and click/tap on Delete. (see screenshot below)

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-delete.png

B) Click/tap on Yes to confirm, and go to step 8. (see screenshot below)

How to Customize or Disable App Keys for Keyboard in Windows 10-undo.png


8 When finished, you can close Registry Editor if you like.


That's it,
Shawn