The Windows key not working can be a frustrating problem, as most users rely on it to quickly access functions and panels on the world’s most popular operating system.
If you have a laptop that came out of the factory with Windows installed on it, chances are you’ve already used this button at least once before.
With that said, finding out you now have to access the Windows start panel using your mouse can be a disappointing experience and a call for help.
Luckily, we dedicated this guide to help you solve the problem using proven and easy-to-follow methods.
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Fix 1: Disable Gaming Mode On Your PC
If you use your PC for gaming, chances are you have at least one peripheral manufactured by a gaming-oriented brand. For example, Logitech or Razer keyboards are very popular, and both brands feature a dedicated button on their products that toggles gaming mode on and off.
Gaming mode means disabling buttons that you may accidentally click during intense gameplay, which can minimize your game and disrupt your experience. As you already know, the Windows button on our keyboards is notorious for that, and along with a few others, often targeted by the gaming mode features restrictions.
So, if gaming mode is enabled, your Windows button won’t work. To reverse this, try looking for the gaming mode toggle button on your keyboard and disable it.
On Logitech keyboards, this button is usually located above the F function keys and has a joystick illustration featured on it. Keyboards from other brands may have this button placed somewhere else.
Upon disabling Gaming Mode on your keyboard, you should be able to use your Windows button once more.
Fix 2: Plug And Unplug Your Keyboard
Sometimes, the most straightforward solutions have the highest working rate, which is why we recommend unplugging and plugging back the keyboard into your PC.
This method could work in two situations:
- If none of the buttons on your keyboard are working at the moment
- If your keyboard is “stuck” in gaming mode so performing this method resets it
Upon plugging your keyboard back in, you’ll most likely notice the buttons are flashing, which is the case with most keyboards after a reset.
If you have multiple free ports on your PC, you can try plugging your keyboard into a different one as this eliminates the chances for the problem to be caused by a faulty port.
Fix 3: Re-Enable The Windows Key Using Registry Edit
Not many users know this, but you can enable and disable keyboard functions and menu items on Windows through the registry panel, also known as regedit amongst more experienced users.
If you share your PC with someone else, they might’ve been the ones who disabled the Windows key, and it can be the reason why you are unable to use it now.
To check whether this is the cause, and potentially re-enable the key, follow the steps below:
- Click on the search button located in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar. Type in “Run” and press Enter on your keyboard. Or, if your keyboard is not functioning at all, use your mouse to open the Run app instead.
- Type in “regedt32” and click “OK” using your mouse. Doing this will open the Registry Editor panel.
Note: You might be greeted with a prompt asking whether you want this app to make any changes on your device, so follow by agreeing. Otherwise, you won’t be able to open the RegEdit panel.
- Click the arrow pointing downwards to expand the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section, then do the same for SYSTEM. Finally, double-click the Keyboard Layout folder and delete the “Scancode Map” registry entry. You can delete it by right-clicking the file and selecting delete.
Note: You’ll need to confirm the action in the value delete prompt that will show up on the screen when you attempt to delete the file.
- Close the Registry Editor and reboot your PC.
Once the system fully boots, your Windows key should be working as intended. You can easily disable it again if you no longer need it.
Fix 4: Disable Windows Button Lock Using A Shortcut
Many users reported that pressing the function (Fn) key on their keyboard, along with either F12 or the Windows key, helped them unlock the functions of the Windows key once more.
This method can save you a lot of time and solve the problem if you give it a try, as it helped many users, including a few in this particular Reddit thread.
Fix 5: Restart Windows Explorer
This method is the same as restarting your PC, but if you can’t reboot at the moment due to keeping track of a work-related task, you can simply restart Windows Explorer without powering off your PC.
Numerous users confirmed this method helped them restore function to their Windows button, and since the method is relatively easy to do, we suggest trying it.
To restart Windows Explorer, follow the steps below:
- Right-click your taskbar and select Task Manager. Once it opens, select Processes and scroll down until you find the Windows Explorer process on the list.
- Select the process, right-click on it and choose Restart as the image below suggests.
If the reason your Windows button wasn’t working is a Windows Explorer-related error, this quick restart should clear it. Your Windows key should now work once more.
Fix 6: Turn Off Filter Keys
The Filter Keys feature is amongst the most disliked Windows features amongst experienced users. If you are working a job that includes using a lot of keyboard shortcuts regularly, it can often mess up your muscle memory and increase the chances of you making an error while working.
Simply put, the Filter Keys feature can sometimes cause the system to fail to register your input, so you’ll only end up slowing yourself down with it enabled. It’s also often the reason why your Windows key is not functioning as it should.
To disable this feature, follow the steps below:
- Click on the search icon located in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar. Type in Ease of Access Keyboard Settings and click on the first result, as shown in the image below.
- In the Keyboard settings panel that just opened on your screen, scroll down until finding the “Use Filter Keys” section. Disable it, as shown in the image below.
You can now continue using your PC as usual, and your Windows button should work if the problem was caused by the Filter Keys feature. Even if this doesn’t fix the problem straight away, it will prevent this feature from causing any frustration in the future.
Fix 7: Check Your Keyboard’s Settings Panel
Most modern keyboards come with their own settings panel that you can access after downloading the correct driver from the official website.
In these setting panels, you can usually create your own custom shortcuts and macros, including specifying a function for each button on the keyboard.
If someone else is using the same keyboard, they might’ve disabled or re-programmed the Windows key to something else from the keyboard setting panel. The best way to make sure this isn’t the case is by opening the panel yourself and resetting the settings to default.
Using the Windows button on your keyboard accidentally while gaming is frustrating, which is why most people disable it. If you use your PC for work, however, and you’re used to opening panels with the Windows key, it can be a problem to get used to living without it.
Luckily, you now know how to restore its function, so feel free to apply that knowledge and get your Windows button working once again.