Using Caps Lock for Windows 8 search

Since upgrading to Windows 8, I’ve found that even with Classic Shell, I’m using the Windows 8 search function in pretty much every situation I would access the Start Menu.

Before Classic Shell, I was triggering the search by pressing the Windows key, then typing on the Start tile screen. However, I found it too distracting.

A much less distracting search is the one triggered by pressing Windows + S; it slides in from the side. However, it’s also a fiddly key combination. It would be much easier if I could map a unused key on my keyboard specifically to that; something like Caps Lock.

I did some investigation into the best way to remap it, and I couldn’t seem to find anything on how to change the Search trigger from Windows + S in the registry. I looked into scancode remapping, however while I have seen Windows 8 laptops with a dedicated search key, it doesn’t appear it is mapped to a scancode.

The Solution

It seems like the best approach was to develop an AutoHotkey script for the purpose.

I downloaded, installed, and opened AHK, choosing Yes to create the “sample script”. After some testing, to get what I wanted I needed to remove the sample code and add;

; CapsLock performs search

instead, then place a shortcut to the script (it’s in My Documents) in %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This causes the AutoHotkey script to run at startup, configuring the Caps Lock key to trigger Windows + S.

Another script that I found on the AutoHotkey foums was repurposed to toggle Caps Lock by double-tapping the Shift key. However, I have turned this off, as my typing style seems to trigger it accidentally: Your mileage may vary.

; Double-tapping Shift enables CapsLock
if (A_PriorHotkey <> "Shift" or A_TimeSincePriorHotkey > 300)
   ; Too much time between presses, so this isn't a double-press.
    KeyWait, Shift
	if GetKeyState("CapsLock", "T") = 1
 	  SetCapsLockState, off
	else if GetKeyState("CapsLock", "F") = 0
	   SetCapsLockState, on

While simple, I’ve found both these scripts to be very useful.

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