If you’ve got a pet or toddler, then you know that an unguarded keyboard is a recipe for disaster – deleted files, lost work, and hard-to-explain Facebook status updates are just the beginning. In this article, we’ll show you how to disable your keyboard at the touch of a button – and, of course, how to re-enable it.
Keyboard Locker is a small program that does this job well and takes up very few system resources. It’s a small AutoHotKey script that was originally written by an AutoHotKey forum-goer named Lexikos. We’ve spruced it up a bit and compiled it so that you don’t need to have AutoHotKey installed. If you do have AutoHotKey installed, we’ve included the original script so you can tweak it to your liking.
When you open Keyboard Locker, you’ll see a small keyboard icon appear in your system tray.
To lock the keyboard, press Ctrl+Alt+L.
The icon in the system tray changes to indicate that the keyboard is locked.
Almost all keyboard input is now disabled, including most special keys on media keyboards and caps and num locks. There are a few key combinations that will still work, such as Ctrl+Alt+Delete and Win+L to lock your computer, but those are extremely unlikely for a paw or tiny hand to hit.
When you want re-enable keyboard input, simply type in the word “unlock.”
By default, the balloon notification seen above are not shown – only the system tray icon changes. If you’d like to enable the balloon notifications, right-click on the system tray icon and click on “Show tray notifications”.
If you don’t like the notification but you forget the right keyboard shortcut or command to type in, you can hover your mouse cursor over the system tray icon and a tooltip will pop up with the appropriate instruction.
Keyboard Locker won’t have any detrimental effects on your computer if you leave it running at all times, but if you want to close it, right-click on the system tray icon and then click on “Exit”.
Start Keyboard Locker when Windows starts
If you want Keyboard Locker to start up automatically when you boot your computer, you can create a shortcut to Keyboard Locker in your startup folder.
To do this, click on the Start button, then All Programs. You should be able to find a folder called Startup.
Right click on the folder and click on Explore.
An explorer window will pop up. It may have some other shortcuts in here already (if there are programs in here that you don’t want to start up when Windows boots up, you can remove them here!). In either case, right click on an empty portion of the window and click on New > Shortcut.
Click on the Browse… button and navigate to the location that you saved Keyboard Locker in.
The path will be filled in. Click next.
Give the shortcut a name if you’d like, then click Finish.
You should now see a shortcut to Keyboard Locker in the startup folder. From now on, Keyboard Locker will start running every time you boot up your computer!
If you ever want to stop Keyboard Locker from running at startup, simply delete it from this folder.
Note: This currently doesn’t work on Windows XP but we’re currently building an XP version that will be posted shortly, so stay tuned.
Keyboard Locker is a great utility for those of us with curious creatures and inquisitive infants. If you have a different use for this program, let us know in the comments!
Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.
- Published 02/26/10