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Is there a way to temporarily 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 is I'm 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 use F1 to activate).

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  • 2
    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, 2012 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. Jun 14, 2012 at 3:26

6 Answers 6

11

The simplest solution: use this Autohotkey macro

f1::Return

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, 2012 at 3:13
  • 2
    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, 2013 at 0:30
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 18:23
  • 1
    it should have another alternative like ctrl+F1 sends F1 in case you actually want it
    – endolith
    Nov 3, 2015 at 20:29
5

On Windows 7-10 (maybe also lower versions?) to disable the F1 button in all programs (just for the currently logged in user), save this file as disable.reg and run it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Typelib\{8cec5860-07a1-11d9-b15e-000d56bfe6ee}\1.0\0\win32]
@=""

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Typelib\{8cec5860-07a1-11d9-b15e-000d56bfe6ee}\1.0\0\win64]
@=""

Or open regedit, browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Typelib, create a Key (folder) named {8cec5860-07a1-11d9-b15e-000d56bfe6ee}, then create a Key inside that named 1.0, then create a Key inside that named 0, then create 2 Keys inside that named win32 and win64. Open each of the winXX Keys, double click (Default) and then press OK. Observe that the Data has changed from (value not set) to be blank.


To re-enable the F1 key, save this file as enable.reg and run it:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[-HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Typelib\{8cec5860-07a1-11d9-b15e-000d56bfe6ee}]

Or open regedit, browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Typelib and delete the folder named {8cec5860-07a1-11d9-b15e-000d56bfe6ee}

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    I tried this on Windows 7, and it works perfectly. You don't even need to restart, it's immediately effective. Jul 5, 2018 at 21:26
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    What exactly does this do? A quick explanation would be nice. Does it disable the F1 key completely or is this just for the Windows help? Do I roll it back by just removing the key again? I don‘t want to run this without knowing what it does. An extension of your answer would be appreciated :)
    – bugybunny
    Oct 29, 2018 at 12:24
  • 1
    @bugybunny It might be 2 years later but I've done that for you :) Nov 4, 2020 at 19:36
3

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, 2013 at 0:27
  • 1
    This also blocks key combinations that use F1.
    – Sam
    Jun 4, 2013 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, 2013 at 17:55
1

Other answers have addressed how to disable the F1 key. I will address the underlying problem:

I have never intentionally pressed the F1 key, but occasionally press it accidentally (which can be a pain because most help systems use F1 to activate).

Back when I used Windows, I had the same complaint. Rather than attempt to disable it, my approach was to assign F1 as a hotkey to run a shortcut to a frequently used program. Since I am intentionally using it, I am less likely to accidentally hit it because I have a better sense of where it is located. Even if I were to accidentally press it, it would just run a program I'm likely to need soon anyway.

See Windows 7 - Assigning hotkeys to applications

image

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    Awesome solution, far more OS friendly than many others offered here. This also works in Windows 10. And I now have a key to open the command prompt! Cheers Apr 16, 2020 at 21:27
  • @JonathanBarton I also assigned the key to open a command prompt.
    – xiota
    Apr 16, 2020 at 23:41
0

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:

http://www.ehow.com/how_8053450_disable-f1-windows-xp.html

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    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, 2012 at 3:48
  • This is the best method IMO, but instead, you should run some empty executable instead.
    – Rookie
    Jul 15, 2013 at 17:56
0

If you want to completely deactivate the key (so that even the Chrome help doesn't open or whatever program uses it), you can remap the key to nothing. The downside is that it's disabled for the whole system and any program that might use it for something else, you can not map any action in a program to it anymore. It's as if you removed the physical key (except that it's easier to revert).

You have to change a registry key like in this tutorial: https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/disable-caps-lock-key-in-windows-vista/ (archive)

The actual key number for F1 was hard to find, but this table should have it: http://www.ee.bgu.ac.il/~microlab/MicroLab/Labs/ScanCodes.htm (archive)

Otherwise this table has a lot of other formats: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa299374(v=vs.60).aspx (archive)

And if even that doesn't work, you can install a program from here to get the code: Where to find windows keyboard scancode registry information?

To get a toggle, you have to first export the key without changes and call it "F1 on" or whatever and after you made the changes, export it again and call it "F1 off" or whatever. The problem with this is that whenever you change something in that key, you have to export it again or you would revert that change the next time you open the file.

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