Trying to get rid of the 'press windows key in middle of game and it returns back to windows, and then I can't alt-tab back in for 15 seconds' problem.

Specifically, I'm playing SC2 on a 32-bit Windows7 computer. I've looked at WinKeyKiller, but it appears not to be doing the job. Is there no simple way to say 'disable the win, alt-tab, etc, keys when some process is running?'


  • 1
    I took out SC2 from the tags and title because this problem isn't specific to that game; this way people who have the tag ignored will still see this question.
    – Mana
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:07
  • He specifically wants a solution to SC2, perhaps he only wants this to be in affect during SC2 play and not overall windows play? I realize there maybe overall windows based solutions, but the one he selected is very much Starcraft 2 based.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 15:07
  • 5
    Based on the fact that a general solution is not necessarily what the asker wants, and that an OS general solution is SU material (see: superuser.com/questions/1384 ), I've retagged this question as Starcraft 2 specific
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 15:38

6 Answers 6


For Starcraft II specifically there's actually an in-game option to disable windows key and/or alt-tab. It's under "Gameplay" the 2nd and 3rd last options.

Also for SC2 if you set the graphics setting to "Windowed (Fullscreen)" it will let you instant-alt-tab. It says it may cause a drop in performance but I personally haven't noticed it and the ability to alt-tab instantly is worth any small performance drop unless you're on a really low end system. (I browse the web when searching for matches, and just have "Play in background" turned on for the sound so I can hear when one is found).

  • 4
    +1 for Windowed (Fullscreen) mode. More games should have modes like this (there are no borders and no title bar). For browsing the web I added the Steam overlay, but instant alt+tab is still useful. Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 16:24
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    As far as I've found, only multi-GPU systems (at least CrossFireX, but possibly NVIDIA SLI too) suffer, rather dramatically at that because only the first GPU is enabled then. It is possible some very low-end chips and/or old drivers may suffer as well. On anything otherwise remotely modern I've never seen a drop in performance.
    – user3658
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 17:36

Microsoft Support Article KB216893 How to disable the keyboard Windows key

Alternatively, you can use AutoHotkey to disable hotkeys globaly or selectively, based on the program that is currently active. This should work for any program, and any key (combination) out there.

  • hmm, autohotkey is a good idea...i'm having a similar issue when using Launchy and playing anything Half-Life related (crouch+jump has a tendency of popping it up at inopportune times)
    – erik
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:47

This certainly isn't a general answer, but some keyboards (usually the fairly expensive gaming keyboards, like the G15) have a physical switch that will disable the Windows key.

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    After two years of owning a G15 i finally found out what this switch really does. Of course...I could have looked it up in the manual :o
    – Martin
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 9:02

i prefer brute force to disable the window key, by pulling it out of the keyboard. This may not be a very beautiful method, but its effective.

  • @downvoter, explanation would be nice. This is a serious answer and use this way myself. The major advantage: It cost no systemresources.
    – Rito
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:01
  • I guess that was because it doesn't answer the question: Its about disabling the key when in-game, not permanently.
    – gfr
    Commented Sep 3, 2010 at 2:54
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    well if you need it again, just push it back into the keyboard.
    – Rito
    Commented Sep 6, 2010 at 13:29

This approach should work for any game:

  1. Download AutoHotKey
  2. Right click on the desktop or on a folder and choose New > AutoHotKey Script
  3. Right click the script and choose Edit Script
  4. Paste this at the end of the file:
#IfWinActive ahk_class Notepad

This will suppress the start key when Notepad is open. Now we need to find the actual window to target.

  1. Launch AutoIt3 Window Spy which is installed with AutoHotKey
  2. Open your game and look at ahk_class ___ and use that name in the script

Now to make the script start automatically with Windows

  1. Select the script file and copy it
  2. Right-click on the start button and select Open > Programs > Startup
  3. Right-click in the folder and select Paste shortcut

AutoHotKey is an excellent tool, but if all you want to do is disable one key, it's clearly overkill.

Let me suggest an open-source application that I created: Disable Windows Keys

It very straightforward: open the app to disable the Windows keys, close it to restore them.

enter image description here

It's a native application, and therefore, has a minimal footprint.

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