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Example - Using NLS functions to simulate the "Context menu" key

Installer package: KbdEditInstallerUSContextMenuCtrlOem2.exe

Layout file: US Context Menu on Ctrl+OEM_2.zip

You can use the installer package to deploy this keyboard layout without any restrictions. Free Demo version can be used to make changes and test them. To deploy a modified version, a Premium, Personal or Lite edition is needed.

The "context menu" key (ie VK_APPS virtual key code) is often missing on laptop and other small form factor keyboards. This can be a significant impediment to productivity - without this key, the context menu can only be brought up via a right mouse click. Some applications support an alternative Shift+F10 shortcut, but this combination is much more cumbersome to press, and is not universally supported.

This example demonstrates the use of special NLS functions to simulate a VK_APPS keypress via a two-key combination Ctrl + VK_OEM_2 - the latter is normally used to produce / and ? on the standard US keyboard.

The particular combination was chosen because both keys are physically close to where the VK_APPS key is usually placed on keyboards that support it. If your keyboard does not have the right Ctrl key, or you want to use the Ctrl + VK_OEM_2 for other purposes, you can just as easily move VK_APPS to a different combination. Eg if your keyboard has the right Windows key, you can use Shift + Win.

To produce a mapping like this from scratch, you should:

  1. Switch to the low-level editor.
  2. Select the VK_OEM_2 key (scan code 0x35). You can do this by either clicking on the key in the virtual keyboard UI, or pressing the physical key on your keyboard.
  3. Change the Special NLS functions dropdown to Alternative VK code (by default it should be showing None).
  4. This changes the UI to reveal a new dropdown labeled Alternative virtual code and a check-list box For modifier combinations.
  5. In the Alternative virtual code dropdown, choose VK_APPS.
  6. In the For modifier combinations check-list box, tick Ctrl.

The UI for the VK_OEM_2 key should now look like this (note the upper-right corner red marker):

You can test the new mapping by switching to the Preview mode - when Ctrl is down, the VK_OEM_2 key's display should change to Apps, indicating that the alternative function is active:

Limitations

To get the most out of this customisation technique, you should be aware of its limitations. The most relevant is the key pressing order restriction: you should get into a habit of always pressing the Ctrl modifier key first, followed by VK_OEM_2; using the opposite order can cause the "logical" VK_OEM_2 key to remain stuck in the "down" position.

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