The Windows key not working can be frustrating, as many users rely on it to quickly access various functions and panels on the world’s most popular operating system.
If you have a computer that came from the factory with Windows preinstalled, the chances are that you’ve already used this button at least once before.
Finding out that you can now only access the Windows start panel using your cursor can be a disappointing experience, and you might need help resolving the issue.
This guide is dedicated to helping 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, you probably own at least one peripheral manufactured by a gaming-oriented brand. For example, Logitech and Razer keyboards are very popular, and both brands include a dedicated button on their products that toggles gaming mode on and off.
Here, gaming mode means disabling buttons that you might accidentally press during gameplay, which can otherwise minimize your game and disrupt your experience. As you might have already discovered, the Windows button on our keyboards is notorious for that. As a result, it, along with a few other keys, is often targeted by the gaming mode restrictions.
This means that if gaming mode is enabled, your Windows button won’t work. To undo this, look for the gaming mode 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 printed onto it. Keyboards from other brands may have this button placed elsewhere.
After disabling gaming mode on your keyboard, you should be able to use your Windows button again.
Fix 2: Unplug And Plug In Your Keyboard
Sometimes the most straightforward solutions have the highest success rates, so we recommend unplugging and plugging the keyboard back into your PC.
This method could work in two situations:
- If none of the buttons on your keyboard are currently working
- If your keyboard is “stuck” in gaming mode and performing this method resets it
After plugging your keyboard back in, you will likely notice that buttons are flashing, which is the case with many keyboards after a reset.
If you have multiple available ports on your PC, try plugging your keyboard into a different one, as this will eliminate the possibility that the problem is being caused by a faulty port.
Fix 3: Re-Enable The Windows Key Using Registry Edit
Many users don’t know this, but you can enable and disable keyboard functions and menu items on Windows via the registry panel, also known as regedit by experienced users.
If you share your PC with someone else, they might have unknowingly disabled the Windows key, which could be the reason why you are unable to use it now.
To check whether this is the case, and re-enable the key if necessary, follow the steps below:
- Click the search button located in the bottom-left corner of your taskbar. Type “Run” and press Enter on your keyboard. If your keyboard isn’t functioning at all, you can use your mouse to open the Run application instead.
- Type in “regedt32” and click “OK” using your mouse. Doing this will open the Registry Editor panel.
Note: You might be greeted by a prompt asking whether you want this app to make any changes to your device. You need to agree. Otherwise, you won’t be able to open the RegEdit panel.
- Click the arrow pointing down 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 will need to confirm the action in the value delete prompt that appears on the screen when you attempt to delete the file.
- Close the Registry Editor and reboot your PC.
Once the system boots fully, 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 have 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.
This method has helped many users, including a few in this Reddit thread, so it could save you a lot of time and energy while quickly solving the problem.
Fix 5: Restart Windows Explorer
This method works in much the same way as restarting your PC. If you currently can’t reboot 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 the use of their Windows button. As the method is relatively easy to attempt, 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 it, and choose Restart, as the image below illustrates.
If the reason your Windows button wasn’t working is related to Windows Explorer, this quick restart should rectify it. Your Windows key should now work again.
Fix 6: Turn Off Filter Keys
The Filter Keys feature is among the most disliked Windows features by experienced users. If you are working on a task that frequently requires keyboard shortcuts, it can affect your muscle memory and increase the odds of making an error.
The Filter Keys feature can sometimes cause the system to fail to register your input, so you will only end up slowing yourself down with it enabled. It is often also the reason why your Windows key doesn’t function as it should.
To disable this feature, follow the steps below:
- Click 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 opens on your screen, scroll down until you find the “Use Filter Keys” section. Disable it, as shown in the image below.
You can now continue using your PC as normal. If the problem was being caused by the Filter Keys feature, your Windows button should work again. Even if this doesn’t fix your issue immediately, 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 appropriate 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 have disabled or re-programmed the Windows key to do something else via the keyboard setting panel. The best way to ensure this isn’t the case is by opening the panel and restoring the default settings.
Accidentally hitting the Windows button on your keyboard while gaming is frustrating, which is why many people disable it. However, if you use your PC for work and often open panels with the Windows key, you probably don’t want to work without it.
Fortunately, you now know how to restore its function. Go ahead and apply that knowledge to get your Windows button working again.