How-To

Windows Key Not Working in Windows 11? 8 Fixes

The Windows key launches the Start menu on Windows and is used for various keyboard shortcuts. If it stops working, try these fixes.

The Windows key on your keyboard is a vital part of the navigation experience. You use it to launch the Start menu, and it’s essential for various keyboard shortcuts.

If it stops working, here are some different things you can try to fix the Windows key not working on Windows 11.

1. Fix Windows Key Not Working (Basics)

It could be something as simple as troubleshooting the whole keyboard not working. Try reseating the keyboard by unplugging it and plugging it in again. Try reseating it in the USB port it’s already using first. If that doesn’t work, try a different USB port.

Also, try a different keyboard. If the Windows key works on another keyboard, the issue is probably the keyboard itself. However, if it still doesn’t work on the secondary keyboard, the problem is within the PC.

If that doesn’t work, try restarting your PC. That will close all apps that are potentially interfering with it and provide a fresh start. Hopefully, one of those two options will get the Windows key working again. If not, continue with the following steps that are more specific for the key.

Shut Down Windows 11 Start Button

2. Unlock the Windows Key Lock

Depending on your keyboard type, it might have a “Win Lock” button or switch. This is common for mechanical gaming keyboards in particular. Look for a “Win Lock” key on the upper-right corner of the keyboard. It could also be a mechanical switch on the side of the keyboard. If you’re not sure if you have a Win Lock key or how to disable it, check the manufacturer’s support documentation.

3. Disable Game Mode

The common problem is that Game Mode is enabled. Game Mode lets you get the most out of your system’s resources for a better experience. It turns of select background processes and keys – including the Windows key. With the Windows key disabled, the Start menu doesn’t pop up while gaming.

Note that Game Mode is only available on select keyboards that support it – like Logitech gaming keyboards, for example. If the keyboard has a “Gaming Mode” button, ensure that it’s turned off. Or turn it off using the keyboard’s software, making sure the Windows key is enabled.

You can also disable Gaming Mode in Windows 11 by clicking Start and type: gaming mode and select the top result. Then turn off the Gaming Mode switch.

Gaming Mode off windows 11

4. Check Keyboard Drivers

One of the problems could be with the keyboard’s drivers, especially on expensive gaming keyboards. To check for updates, right-click the Start button and open Device Manager.

Device Manager

Scroll down and expand the Keyboards tree. Right-click your connected keyboard and select Update driver. Then follow the on-screen instructions.

You also might want to try uninstalling and reinstalling the driver. To do that, right-click your connected keyboard and select Uninstall and reboot your PC. Windows should reinstall the keyboard driver during the boot process.

Keyboard device manager keyboard windows 11

If Windows doesn’t find a driver, make sure to check the keyboard manufacturer’s support site for the latest drivers.

5. Turn Off Filter Keys

The Filter Keys option allows your keyboard to ignore repeated keystrokes. If turned on, it could be causing the Windows key not to work. To make sure it’s disabled, go to Start > Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard. From there, make certain the “Filter keys” option is off.

Disable Filter Keys

6. Make Windows Rescan the Keyboard

Windows 11 might not understand the Windows Key from the digital map in the PC’s memory called “ScanMap.” But you can force it with a Registry hack.

Note: The Registry is the lifeblood of Windows. If you make the wrong change, your PC can become unstable or worse. Before proceeding, make sure to back up the Registry, create a Restore Point, or have a full system backup on hand. Also, the registry entry for this might not be available on your PC. But it’s worth checking.

Right-click the Start button and select Run.

Start Run

Then type: regedit and click OK or hit Enter.

Regedit Windows 11

Next, navigate to the following path (you can copy and paste it):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout

Then on the right side, find and delete Scancode Map. Restart your PC, and it will force a scan and create a new key. Note that if you don’t see “Scancode Map,” you don’t need to do anything. It’s just not available on your PC.

7. Run a PowerShell Command

If the Windows key is still disabled, you can use a PowerShell script to enable it. Right-click the Start button and select Windows Terminal (Admin).

Windows Terminal Admin

Note: This option is generally safe, but before proceeding, create a Restore Point first. Then you can revert to the previous version in case something goes awry.

Enter the following command (you can copy and paste it) and hit Enter.

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation) \AppXManifest.xml”}

PowerShell Code

After the command executes, your Windows key should be working again.

8. Boot into Safe Mode

Booting Windows 11 in Safe Mode will run minimally required processes, services, and apps. It doesn’t include any fancy graphics either –just the minimum to run Windows. This is a good troubleshooting step for instances where a driver or app is interfering with another.

After booting into Safe Mode, open the Run prompt and type: msconfig to open the “System Configuration” window. Click the Services tab and check the “Hide all Microsoft services” box.

msconfig

Now for the lengthy process. Uncheck each service one by one and restart your PC to see if that fixes the issue.

Hopefully, one of the steps above resolves the issue of your Windows key not working. If nothing works, it’s most likely a problem with the hardware itself. Perhaps the keyboard fell off your desk, or a drink was spilled on it, and the key itself isn’t working.

For more on troubleshooting Windows 11, look at fixing Windows File Explorer not working. And if you have muscle memory from using Windows through the years, you might not like the Start menu placement. The good news you can move the Start menu to the left for an easier transition from Windows 10 to 11.

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