How can I remap keys without administrator privileges?

I've been programming for over 30 years and I learned to type on the older Televideo and original PC keyboards that had the Control key next to the 'A' key, where CAPS LOCK is located.

Windows has a registry entry that allows you to remap the keyboard, but there's a wrinkle. The entry you have to edit is in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, which you need administrative rights to edit.

Windows XP used to allow per-user keyboard remapping by editing the same entry in HKEY_CURRENT_USER. For some asinine reason, this was dropped in Windows 7 and remains gone in Win8.

With more and more companies locking down their computers and not allowing local admin rights, it is becoming problematic. I literally suffer pain and need to go to doctors if I have to use the Control key in its "default" location.

Why did Microsoft take away the per-user functionality? Is there a chance of it coming back in Windows 10? Is there another solution that doesn't require administrative privileges. I looked into AutoHotKey, but it downloads as an installable file that requires admin rights to install it. What good is that?

Are there any alternatives for a locked down computer running Windows 7 or greater that don't require an installation?


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

You can activate the official Administrator account to get full access to all or at least most actions.

Open the Command Prompt as Administrator.

In Windows 10 just right click on the start icon and select "Command Prompt Administrator".
In earlier versions right click on the command prompt link and chose Run as Administrator.

In the window type or copy and paste...

net user administrator /active:yes

When finished right click the start button and select, "Shut down or Sign out" and click "Sign Out".

You will have the option to sign back in as Admin.

When you are finished go to the command prompt windows again and this time type.

net user administrator /active:no

Your log in screen will go back to normal.


Last edited:
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the advice, but unfortunately it won't work on my office machine. Our computers are locked down, so in order to run anything "as administrator" you need the company system password, which is only given with permission. I need a way to make this change as a non-admin user, either through system configurations or a portable software tool that doesn't need to be "installed" or need admin privileges to run.

Windows XP used to allow this. I don't know why they took it away in Windows 7 and 8. I hope it comes back in Windows 10, but with Microsoft, who knows???


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

I'm afraid that's the only idea I have.

I did find this, but I have no idea if this is something that would work for you, but for what it's worth....

The easiest solution I have found for custom keyboard layouts on Win 8.1 is to use the Microsoft keyboard layout Creator 1.4 on another computer with an earlier operating system. Windows xp worked for me.

After 5 hours of fiddling I came to the conclusion that Win 8.1 is incapable of building the appropriate files using the aforementioned software. It will allow you to load and modify keyboards but not save them.

On the older computer Run the software and load an existing keyboard. Modify it to suit your needs. Under the projects tab, click the build function and save the files to a usb stick.

Download and install Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4 on your Windows 8.1 computer and then run setup from the saved files on your usb stick.

It will load your customised keyboard straight to your keyboard toolbar at the bottom right of your screen. If you are using an earlier operating system than XP or Vitq you may have to download and install version 1.3


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