Written by the Lenovo Companion App Content Team

A factory-fresh PC is a beautiful thing. You can personalize it, sync it and modify everything from applications to keyboard functions. But while your Microsoft settings can follow you from one PC to another, keyboard customizations don’t. You’ll need to take a few extra steps if you prefer not to use the keyboard on your Lenovo system as-is.

Type faster than ever with our four favorite features and customizations:

1. Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts (called “hotkeys”) allow you to get through actions faster. For example, you can open the Search charm by simultaneously pressing the Windows logo and Function keys. Or switch between open apps with Alt + Tab. The Windows 8.1 hotkey library is filled with these and other new and commonly-used shortcuts.

Hotkey functions can vary depending on the app you’re using. To enable shortcuts within an app, search for “hotkeys” or “shortcut keys” in that app’s Tools or Help section. (For instance: In Skype, go to Tools > Options Advanced > Hotkeys to activate the available hotkeys.)

Some Lenovo keyboards include popular hotkeys in the top (Function) key row. To learn what they do, check your system’s manual (available in Companion in the My System section). Some models—such as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon—come with Adaptive Keyboards that automatically display app-specific hotkeys as you move through your PC. 

2. Custom Hotkeys

If you really want to speed things up, create custom hotkeys for tasks you perform often. For example, here’s how to create a hotkey to launch Skype:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
  2. Search Skype Open file location. (Note that you can only create shortcuts for apps that run on Windows desktop. If Open file location does not appear in the box after you search for the app, you can’t create a shortcut.)
  3. In the folder that appears, press and hold or right-click the app and then tap or click Properties.
  4. Tap or click the Shortcut tab, followed by the Shortcut key
  5. Press the key you want to use as a shortcut, along with Ctrl+Alt, and then tap or click OK.

Follow these same steps any time you want to create a custom hotkey. Just be sure to keep the following tips in mind:        

  • You can use “modifier” keys (such as CtrlAlt or Shift) as well as character keys, arrow keys and function keys.
  • Windows does not allow EscEnterSpacebarPrtScnShift or Backspace keys for keyboard shortcuts.
  • Custom shortcuts might not work if they’re the same combinations as existing Windows hotkeys.
  • To use hotkeys, the Fn key must be enabled. Use Fn + Esc to lock or unlock the Fn key.

If you run into issues, make sure your system has the latest versions of the Power Management Driver and hotkey features.

3. Personalized Keyboard Settings and Layout

You can quickly adjust many keyboard settings in the Ease of Access Center. Just swipe in from the right edge of your screen and search for Ease of Access or Change How Your Keyboard Works. Or enter through the Control Panel under Ease of Access > Change How Your Keyboard Works. From here, you can:

  • Turn on Sticky Keys, which allows you to enter shortcut keys one at a time if you have a hard time to pressing them simultaneously.
  • Underline keyboard shortcuts and access keys, which makes it easier to use keyboard shortcuts by highlighting them.
  • Turn on Mouse Keys to use the numeric keypad to move the pointer around your screen. 

Want to use your keyboard in a different language? You can easily change the keyboard’s linguistic input and layout, too. 

4. The Keyboard Backlight

To alleviate digital eye strain and see better in low-light conditions, turn on your keyboard’s backlight. You can do this on most Lenovo systems by simultaneously holding the Fn key and spacebar. (Not sure if your system has a backlit keyboard? Find out here.

If your keyboard does include this feature and it’s not working, it may help to check your keyboard and mouse configurations in BIOS. And keep in mind that the keyboard illumination will turn off when you power down your computer or put it in sleep or hibernation mode.

Lenovo Companion | Your Go-To App 

Read more content like this in the Lenovo Companion appLenovo Companion is filled with exclusive content to help you learn about your new device. You'll find how to and tech tips from Lenovo experts on everything from setting up your new PC to extending your battery life. And, in select countries, you'll be able to stay up-to-date on tech news from publishers, partners and Lenovo Insider bloggers. 

Lenovo Companion is preloaded on Windows 8.1 Lenovo and Think PCs and tablets.You'll find it in the Lenovo Apps section on the Windows Start Screen.

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