Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've inherited a Windows XP pro sp3 machine at work. Everything else is fine, but Windows key shortcuts don't work.

Anytime I issue a Windows key combination, the start menu pops open after I release a key, and the normal action doesn't happen. For exmaple, to open the run box: I'll press Win, then leaving it held down press R .. nothing happens. As soon as I release either key, the start menu opens, but no run box.

Clearly something is screwy - I'm assuming the previous user installed some software that has this as a side effect. I am running under a newly-created admin user. The machine is a Dell T3400 with pretty standard office software (Visual Studio, Office, Photoshop CS4) and not much else.

Has anyone seen this behavior before? Anyone have an idea about where to start looking to fix it (in the registry or elseware)?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Some people don't like the Windows key, so this could have been intended.

The Microsoft article How to disable the keyboard Windows key contains a Microsoft Fix-it to enable the Windows key, as well as manual instructions if the Fix-it didn't work.

However, it is also possible that that the previous user has used a third-party software to disable the key, such as AutoHotKey, or key-mapping software.

The best way to find out if this is caused by an installed product, is to boot and check in Safe mode.

share|improve this answer
The key works so it obviously hasn't been explicitly disabled...he can tap it and the Start Menu's all the system shortcuts that don't work. This is fascinating and I wish I had some idea but yeah, it's probably something in software. This is the right idea. – Shinrai Nov 2 '10 at 17:44
There was indeed a HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Control\KeyboardLayout\Scancode Map key in the registry. However, it was different than is detailed in the article (this might explain why the key worked partially). In any case, removing the Scancode map returned the key's behavior to normal. Thanks! – Seth Nov 2 '10 at 20:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .