Reprogramming a novelty "Enter" key?
December 30, 2019 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I received this novelty oversized Enter key in my office's White Elephant. I have zero use for another Enter key, but this could be useful if it was mapped to another keypress. Looking at the images, does anyone have any advice for reprogramming the button? I am obviously not interested in remapping my computer's Enter key to another key, I want to be able to modify this hardware somehow.
posted by obtuser to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What OS? I’m not so sure about Windows but on Mac (definitely) or *nix (I believe) you can make custom key press mappings specific to one input device.
posted by supercres at 7:25 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are you running Windows? AutoHotKey is good for remapping keys to do other things. I use it to make CapsLock into a search Google key. If the novelty Enter key is sending a different identifiable keycode having it do something else will be easy. But it may look just like a regular Enter key in which case it'd be a lot harder to remap it.

Back when I ran MacOS I did something similar using Alfred's Powerpack to map an action to a keypress. The bit about using PCKeyboardHack probably won't apply to you; that was only necessary because CapsLock is kind of a special key.

Me, I'd have the big enter key play a loud fart noise. Or something equally silly.
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on December 30, 2019

If it's away from your keyboard, it's not going to be convenient to use often. So I'd remap it to something that you use monthly or weekly, maybe a few times a day at most, but that (a) you're always forgetting the shortcut for or (b) you tend to use when you're pissed off and it would be really satisfying to whack something big.

(Sadly, mapping it to ctrl-alt-delete won't work for Reasons, though there might be some other way you could get it to open the Task Manager.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:44 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

If it's away from your keyboard, it's not going to be convenient to use often.

I dunno... I am a semi-frequent MSSQL user and tend towards the paranoid side of things (BEGIN TRAN, yes please) and if I had the desk space to burn I'd seriously consider mapping (if possibly through the windows OS, but just in Management Studio if that's all that works) this sucker to F5 to execute my selected code/script. That'd make my workflow for running a given script something like "Open up SQL script, modify values, double check, highlight begin tran, WHAM on the huge foam enter key, triple check, highlight script, WHAM again, verify output window contents as desired, highlight commit, WHAM". I realize some users will scoff or wince from said workflow but, well, it keeps me sane.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:14 AM on December 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have a USB foot pedal that came with some software that allowed you to reprogram the thing to choose which key it sends, similar to the "FootSwitch" software here: - you could try downloading that and/or other similar software and see if any of it recognizes your thing.
posted by jordemort at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2019

You could try a keyboard flashing tool like QMK Toolbox (that's a link to the documentation, which you should review before attempting anything), on the off chance that it uses a commodity microcontroller. Worth a shot at least.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:17 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are great suggestions, I will continue researching. As of right now I am thinking that maybe I should consider a small micro-controller to replace this internal PCB/button setup since that would allow me to customize it further.
posted by obtuser at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2019

That's probably a good approach. You can buy a PCB for a single switch which you'd then need to wire up to a microcontroller, or a fully-assembled single-key "keyboard" which is reprogrammable to emit any key you want.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:39 AM on December 30, 2019

I would program it to minimize all my windows and then put it on the ground so I can step on it when the boss walks by.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:58 AM on December 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Instead of being stuck with an inconsequential-feeling click on "Send," it seems like it'd sometimes be very satisfying to slam that sucker to submit projects by e-mail or deliver other missives of your choice.
posted by teremala at 9:34 AM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would have it make an amusing sound.
posted by theora55 at 1:01 PM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It looks like the freeware HID Macros utility should allow you to remap a secondary keyboard to other keys or a macro.
posted by Aleyn at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you’re on a Mac then Karabiner should be able to remap just this particular Enter key to any key or key combination you like. Or to run a script.
posted by egypturnash at 8:14 AM on December 31, 2019

Response by poster: I believe HID Macros may be a good solution, but I think I need admin rights to use it properly, and I don't have that on my work laptop. However I may take try this at home because it feels like it might work for me. Also, the micro-controller is on its way now as an alternative.
posted by obtuser at 7:16 AM on January 2, 2020

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