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Is there a way to completely disable the F1 key?

I do not want to permanently disable it, but perhaps a toggle switch so that I can enable it for certain actions.

The problem I am trying to solve is that I have never intentionally pressed the F1 key, but occasionally press it accidentally (which can be a pain because most help systems seem to take a while to load).

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You can always just disable the Windows Help service, or you want to disable help in programs as well? Assigning F1 to help is convention, not law. What about programs that use it for something else? What about combos (e.g., Shift+F1, Ctrl+Alt+F1)? Many programs use such combos for special purposes; do you want those disabled as well? – Synetech Jun 14 '12 at 3:16
@Synetech I have updated my question to be a bit clearer. To clarify, I would like to disable the key. So if the combo uses that key, it cannot be performed. – Nippysaurus Jun 14 '12 at 3:26

The simplest solution: use this Autohotkey macro


would do just that.

You can disable it by closing the application in the system tray, and renable by opening it again.

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Note: this would prevent it from working in a game as well. You would have to either quit the script before running the game and re-run it after, or add some sort of game-detection-and-exclusion to it. – Synetech Jun 14 '12 at 3:13
In the current version of the program, I think you can right-click on the notification area (formerly known as System Tray) icon and click Suspend Hotkeys to toggle the functionality. – Sam Jun 4 '13 at 0:30
I would recommend using the registry key solution instead (as mentioned in this topic). It only changes the help button, nothing else. – Rookie Jul 15 '13 at 18:23
it should have another alternative like ctrl+F1 sends F1 in case you actually want it – endolith Nov 3 '15 at 20:29

With Sharpkeys, you can disable or remap most keyboard keys. To use it to disable the F1 key:

  1. Open the program.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Under the left panel, click Type Key and press F1 on the keyboard.
  4. In the right panel, select Turn Key Off.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Write to Registry.
  7. Log off or restart the computer.
  8. To restore the original state, delete the entry and repeat the previous 2 steps.

Mapping "F1" to "Turn Key Off" in SharpKeys

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Note that this method requires the user to log off or restart the computer for the changes to take effect. Because of this, it doesn't allow the F1 to be conveniently re-enabled as needed. – Sam Jun 4 '13 at 0:27
This also blocks key combinations that use F1. – Sam Jun 4 '13 at 0:44
I do not recommend this. For example, if a game uses F1 button, you cant press it anymore. Just noticed it. VERY BAD!!! – Rookie Jul 15 '13 at 17:55

Follow the below steps,

  • Create a restore point.

  • start > run > regedit

  • search for this registry key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\HELPCTR.EXE

  • Double click on Default and change the path to any dummy executable that does nothing.
  • Click ok and restart.

You can find dummy.exe here:

share|improve this answer
I really don’t like this—why exactly did they choose svchost to replace it with? At one time I had disabled the Windows help function by replacing helpctr.exe with a small program that does nothing. That worked just fine but of course has issues. This is somewhat similar and has similar, if different issues. A much simpler and safer solution (the one I use now), is to simply disable the Windows Help service. Of course this is all moot here because he wants to disable the key altogether, not just Windows Help. But, for others who land here trying to turn off Help, just disable the service. – Synetech Jun 14 '12 at 3:48
This is the best method IMO, but instead, you should run some empty executable instead. – Rookie Jul 15 '13 at 17:56

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