A keyboard will have a few essential keys; numbers and letters, and modifiers like Ctrl, Shift, and Alt. Keys like the Home, Insert, Delete key, and even the Windows key are all optional. You might even find keyboards that do not have a row of function keys, though those will be rare. Regardless of which keys you have, they will definitely be labeled. Unconventional keys are normally a problem when an OS fails to recognize them, or they do not act as intended by the keyboard manufacturer. In order to troubleshoot problems with keyboard keys, you need to figure out which key is being tapped/pressed. Here’s how you can identify a keypress on Windows 10.
Since keys vary in their nature, we’re going to recommend a few different tools for you to try out. They’re all free but you should try each one when you’re trying to identify a key’s function.
Sharpkeys is an app for modifying or remapping keyboard keys on Windows 10. It has a built-in tool for recognizing keys that are pressed. Download, install and run the app. Click the Add button on the app’s main interface. On the ‘Add New Key Mapping’ window, click the ‘Type Key’ button and then type the key you want to identify. The app will return the name and scancode for the key.
This tool is more meant to check if a key is actually working or not. It doesn’t always identify the key but if you suspect a keypress isn’t being recognized for a key that should be easy to identify for Windows 10, use this app to test it. Visit Keyboard Checker and tap the key you want to test. If a key on the on-screen keyboard turns green, that means the keypress is being recognized however, the keyboard you see is NOT going to be an accurate representation of the keyboard you’re using. For keys that aren’t on the keyboard, scroll down and it will tell you which was the last key pressed.
If you’re running anything that will intercept the keypress before the app is able to read it, you should disable it first. A common example is an AutoHotKey script that’s written to remap keys. Disable all such scripts and then use KeyboardChecker.
This is a tool that I found when trying to remap the special keys on my keyboard. These special keys are as unconventional as they get. Many keyboards have them and there is no standardization when it comes to their function or how they will interact with an OS. That makes it particularly hard to figure out what a key does. Visit Keycodes and tap the key. The app will not tell you which key is pressed. Instead, it will tell you what event was triggered, among other things, when you tapped a key. It is going to take a little work to figure out what the key is doing with the information that Keycodes gives you but for particularly obscure keys, this is the app for the job.
These three tools should do the job when it comes to identifying a keypress. If all three fail to identify a key, it is possible that the key is either not working or that it isn’t sending any sort of input to Windows 10. In this case, it is likely impossible to map or customize the key. If the key is a common one then it is broken. You can have it repaired or you can try using a different keyboard with the same key on it and see if Windows 10 is able to receive input from it. If it is, then it will confirm that the key is indeed broken on your keyboard.
Windows 10 has an on-screen keyboard which can also highlight the key that’s pressed. If you feel the key you’re trying to identify is basic, you can try the on-screen keyboard first.