How to disable the Windows key on your keyboard

If you accidentally press the Windows key while using a time-sensitive application, it can lead to a disaster. There are different ways to disable the feature in Microsoft Windows 10.

Image: Julian Vojtech, Getty Images / iStockphoto

Using the Windows key on a standard Microsoft Windows 10 keyboard, users have access to dozens of configuration settings, functions, and applications with convenient hot key combinations. Under most circumstances, accidentally pressing the Windows key is a harmless annoyance, but using a time-sensitive application, such as a game, can lead to a disastrous, anger-inducing, tantrum of frustration.

Turning off the shortcut functionality of the Windows key in Microsoft Windows 10 is not difficult, and there are several possible methods that users can use to change the behavior of that specific key. The two methods explained in this article offer the simplest solutions and save the more involved methods for later.

This guide explains how to disable the Windows hot key functionality by editing the Windows registry file and changing settings with the Group Policy editor.

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How to disable the Windows key on your keyboard

First of all, let me mention that the absolute best way to disable the Windows key during gaming is to purchase and use a gaming keyboard with a built-in disable function. Gaming keyboards often have a simple switch that turns the Windows key on and off as desired. It is by far the simplest solution.

However, if that is not possible at this time, we must edit the Windows registry file, which requires the standard disclaimer.

Disclaimer: Editing the Windows registry file is a serious undertaking. A damaged Windows registry file can render your computer unusable, requiring the Windows 10 operating system to be reinstalled and possibly losing data. Back up the Windows 10 registry file and create a valid restore point before continuing.

Type “regedit” in the desktop search box and select Registry Editor in the results to get started. Once the Windows registry file is open, navigate to this key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies Explorer

Click the Explorer button as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure A

Right-click on an empty space in the right-hand window and select New | DWORD (32-bit) Value and call it NoWinKeys, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B

Double-click the NoWinKeys item and change the data value to 1, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Figure C

Click OK and close regedit. The change takes effect after you restart your PC. To re-enable the Windows key functionality, change the data value to zero or delete the NoWinKeys entry.

How to disable the Windows key with Group Policy editor

The method is similar for the Group Policy Editor if you use Windows 10 Pro. Type “Group Policy Editor” in the desktop search box and select the correct item in the results. Navigate to this folder:

User Configuration Administrative Templates Windows Components File Explorer

Click the Explorer item, as shown in Figure D. Scroll through the list of configuration settings that appears in the right-hand window until you find the “Turn off Windows Key shortcuts” item.

Figure D

Figure D

Double-click the Turn off Windows Key shortcuts item and click the Enable radio button, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Figure E

Click OK and then close the Group Policy Editor. As before, the change takes effect after you restart your PC. To enable the Windows key functionality again, change the radio button that you clicked to Disabled or Not Configured.

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