This entire post pertains to using Windows. I have zero clue about Macs or any other operating systems. Sorry!
THE CAPS LOCK KEY IS THE BANE OF INTERNET CIVILITY. Long has it been the weapon of choice for trolls, jerks, and other Internet low-lifes. I had a dream once that its purpose would be re-tooled, christened by a new found use that would redeem it forever. This is the story of achieving that dream.
I’ve never found any use for Caps Lock. In fact, it has long been more of a curse than a blessing. I suppose some more-than-deviants might find value in its existence. But I am not one of them.
More often than not, I’d accidentally press it. As a result, the next message I’d type would necessarily need correction. Either the direct sort where I just start over or the lazy sort where I apologize to whomever I sent it to for my yelling.
Then it dawned on me one fateful afternoon: I don’t have to continue living this way. In fact, I bet I can find a way to make Caps Lock my friend, not my enemy.
I wanted to repurpose my Caps Lock key to do something I did more and more often while sitting at a computer: search. This was before Chromebooks had been created (their keyboards replace Caps Lock with a search key), so Google probably owes me money. Just kidding Google, don’t cut off my Internet traffic!
When I am sitting at a computer, I am almost always using a browser (Chrome, because HAIL GOOGLE). If I want to look for a YouTube video, I go to YouTube and type in what I want. If I want to use Wikipedia, I go to Wikipedia and type in what I want. It’s all a bit tedious and, frankly, unnecessary.
I’ll save the parts about search functionality for another post, but I did manage to remake my Caps Lock key into almost exactly what I wanted. The process is so simple that I fully believe you could make it into most anything. How about a Reverse-Tab key for better tab-targeting controls in World of Warcraft? How about a ‘LOL’ key for quickly responding to those “funny” videos your mom/aunt/cousin keep linking you? AutoHotKey makes the possibilities endless!
While AutoHotKey is a lot more powerful than the relatively simple reason I use it, my only real need for it is to remap my Caps Lock key. Now, there are ways to do that without the need of an external program, but I like pretending I’ll one day master other aspects of the program. Your mileage may vary.
AutoHotKey is 100% free and open-source. You download it here. After you install it, find it in the bottom right corner of your screen with all the other icons and right click. Choose ‘Edit Script’.
Everything AutoHotKey does runs from this single script. You want to change ‘x’ key to do ‘y’, then this is where you put it. Once you are done writing your script, then save it. Find AutoHotKey again, right click just as you did before, and select ‘Reload Script’.
Now, writing the script is the ‘hard’ part though it is relatively simple. For a list of Hotkey references, check here. For a list of how to reference each individual key, check here. For a list of how to reference specific commands, check here.
A basic key modification will look like this: x::y. ‘x’ will be the key you want to modify, in our case, Caps Lock. ‘y’ will be what you want it to do.
Let’s begin with make a LOL key:
According to the key reference list, Caps Lock is Capslock, so in the formula x::y we replace the x with ‘Capslock’ if we want to modify our Capslock key.
According to the command reference list, to send input to our current window i.e. type ‘LOL in the message box, we use ‘Send’ followed by the keys we want sent. We put this in the y spot of our formula.
Save, click reload script, and BOOM: your Caps Lock key now types ‘LOL’ for you. Quickly dismissing links to videos you don’t feel like watching or awkward comments from boys whose hearts you aren’t ready to break will never be easier.
You can also use it to Run programs:
Launch specific folders:
There are so many possibilities, ones that go far beyond replacing only your Caps Lock key. I also got rid of Scroll Lock. AutoHotKey is the perfect DIY app to play around with on a relaxing Sunday. I cannot recommend it enough!
If you are still having trouble, here’s a more in depth guide. Also, feel free to ask for assistance in the comments. I am no expert, but my Caps Lock search key makes me one heck of a quick researcher.