Skip to main content

How to Make Your Numpad Into a Macropad, Media Player or Mouse

Numpad on Keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

To many, the numpad (aka numeric keypad) seems like a vestigial organ on the body of your keyboard. Many of the best gaming keyboards are TKL (tenkeyless) that don't have numpads at all. And a lot of users who have full-size keyboards rarely touch their numpads. To be fair, all of the keys on the numpad are available elsewhere so, unless you manually enter a lot of long numbers, the number row is just fine.

But what if you could give your humble numpad a new purpose? With a couple of simple tricks, you can turn your numpad into a set of macro keys that launch your favorite programs or perform repetitive tasks in a single button-press. Or you can transform the numpad into media playback keys. You can even make your numpad into a mouse. Below, we'll show you three ways to transform your numpad in Windows 10 or 11: remapping the keys with SharpKeys, programming macros with AutoHotkey or enabling mouse keys with Windows' Ease of Access settings. 

Remapping Numpad Keys with SharpKeys

Did you know that any key on your keyboard, including the numpad keys, can be remapped so that the operating system thinks it is something else. You can remap the keys using a freeware app called SharpKeys that writes the changes to the correct places in the Windows registry. After you've done your remapping and reboot, you don't need to keep running the app, because those changes will be part of your OS from then on.

SharpKeys has a huge list of possible keys you can turn your numpad keys into. Below, we'll show you how to change the 4, 5 and 6 keys into media keys and + / - into the volume control. But you could just as easily change the numpad keys into function keys (including F14 - F24 which most keyboards don't have), special characters or web browser controls.  These changes will be in place whether you have numlock on or off.

1. Download, install and launch SharpKeys

2. Click Add.

Click Add

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Select Num: 4 as the "From" key. You can do this either by scrolling down the list to find it or by clicking the Type Key button and hitting the 4 key on the numpad. The latter is faster.

Select Num 4 as From Key

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Select Media Prev Track as the "To" key and click Ok

Select Media Prev Track as the To key and Click Ok

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Repeat steps 2 to 4, assigning the following from and to keys:

  • Num 5: -> Media Play/Pause
  • Num 6: ->Media Next Track
  • Num: + -> Media Volume Up
  • Num: - > Media: Volume Down
  • Num: * -> Media: Mute

6. Click Write to Registry.

Click Write to Registry

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Close SharpKeys and reboot

The keys you've mapped will now work and you will not need to run SharpKeys again, unless you want to change you remappings.

Run Macros With AutoHotkey

Using a popular, free scripting tool called AutoHotKey, you can do a lot more than remap your numpad's keys. You can make them perform a wide variety of tasks, from launching apps to typing in repetitive text to performing complex key sequences. The scripts are stored in a single text file with the .ahk extension and, if you place it the Windows startup folder, it will load and run in the background at all times.

You could spend weeks learning how to use all the features of AutoHotKey (and perhaps you should), but below we'll show you how to get started with it and assign your numpad keys to open programs, paste in text or navigate a pulldown menu in one press. Note that, with AutoHotKey, you can program different actions that depend on whether numlock is on or off. So, if you still want to use the number keys sometimes, you can just assign macros to the keys that appear when numlock is off.

1. Download and install AutoHotKey. Note that the program itself only runs the scripts. You need some kind of text editor to edit them.

2. Download, install and run SciTE4AutoHotkey, which is the editor / IDE I like best for AutoHotkey. In truth, you can use any text editor or another IDE such as AHK Studio but I prefer SciTE4AutoHotkey because it's easy to use and has autocompletes for all the major commands.

3. Add the following text to the top of the file. This isn't absolutely necessary but helps with performance a bit and with the titlebar matching we'll talk about a little below.

#NoEnv 
#SingleInstance Force
SendMode Input  
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir%
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

4. Save the file as myhotkeys.ahk in your Windows startup folder, which for Windows 10 or 11 is C:\Users\[YOUR USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This will insure that your hot keys script runs every time you start Windows.

5. Set the NumpadHome key to open notepad You can easily change this code to work with any key or open any program. NumpadHome is what the Numpad7 key becomes when numlock is off.

NumpadHome::
Run notepad
return

This is the way that all AutoHotKey shortcuts are coded. The name of the key is followed by two colons (::). On the next line or group of lines are the actions the key performs and then finally the return command on its own line. The command for launching an app is "Run" and the app name. If the app is in your path, you can just enter its name, in this case, "notepad" (or "Chrome"). But in many cases, you'll need to use the complete path to the .exe file (ex: "C:\Program Files\Adobe\Elements 13 Organizer\Photoshop Elements 13.0.exe" is what I used to launch Photoshop Elements on my PC). 

Note that the name of the key must be precisely what AutoHotKey expects. Below is a table of all the key names in your numpad with numlock on or off. Note that, if you like to use your numpad as a numpad sometimes, you can just program the numlock off versions of the keys.

Numpad Keys in AutoHotKey
Numpad On Key NameNumpad Off Key Name
Numpad7NumpadHome
Numpad8NumpadUp
Numpad9NumpadPgUp
Numpad4NumpadLeft
Numpad5NumpadClear
Numpad6NumpadRight
Numpad1NumpadEnd
Numpad2NumpadDown
Numpad3NumpadPgDn
Numpad0NumpadIns
NumpadDotNumpadDel
NumpadDivNumpadDiv
NumpadMultNumpadMult
NumpadAddNumpadAdd
NumpadSubNumpadSub
NumpadEnterNumpadEnter

6. Set your NumpadUp key to enter some boilerplate text. We're using our former office address as an example but you could use anything you like. Note that you add line breaks by using an `n in your text. No quotation marks are necessary, unless they are part of the text you are inserting.

NumpadUp::
Send Tom's Hardware`n11 West 42nd Street`nNew York, NY 10011
return

7. Program the NumpadPgUp key to activate a pulldown menu item. One of the best uses of AutoHotKey is to perform complex key stroke combinations that will allow you to perform a task in one button press that might take a series of presses or mouse movements otherwise. In the example below, we're going to make the Status bar (the one at the bottom of the window) appear or disappear in notepad.

NumpadPgUp::
Send !v
Send {Down}
Send {Enter}
return

So what's going on here is that we're hitting Alt + v (! is the code for the alt key) to open the View menu in Notepad. Then we're hitting the down arrow once to reach the Status Bar option and hitting Enter once to toggle it. But it all happens so fast that you won't notice.

Toggling status bar in notepad

(Image credit: Future)

Now, if you choose to use this keyboard shortcut when not in notepad, the results will be different. If you want, there is a way to make sure that a keyboard shortcut only works within a particular program. One way is to put a line above the hotkey with #IfWinActive and a string from the Window title. 

#IfWinActive Notepad
NumpadPgUp::
Send !v
Send {Down}
Send {Enter}
return

Admittedly, this isn't a perfect solution as our script uses a loose match so it works in both Notepad and Notepad++ (where the same key sequence enables full screen view). AutoHotKey has a page on how to get more specific with #IfWinActive selection, but that's beyond the scope of this article.

8. Save and run your script to test it. You can hit F5 in SciTe4AutoHotkey to run your script, but if you already have it running and make a change, you'll need to right click on the AutoHotKey tray icon and select Reload This Script.

Reload This Script in AutoHotKey

(Image credit: Future)

Once you are happy with your AutoHotKey script, just let it keep running. If you saved it in your Startup folder, it will run every time you boot Windows. There's a lot more you can do with AutoHotKey including assigning actions to your numpad keys when they are combined with CTRL, Shift, Windows Key or ALT. See the AutoHotKey docs for more.

Below is the complete code for our sample script.

#NoEnv 
#SingleInstance Force
SendMode Input  
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir%  
SetTitleMatchMode, 2

NumpadHome::
Run notepad
return

NumpadUp::
Send Tom's Hardware`n11 West 42nd Street`nNew York, NY 10011
return

#IfWinActive Notepad
NumpadPgUp::
Send !v
Send {Down}
Send {Enter}
return

Turn Your Numpad into a Mouse

If you don't want to use a mouse but still need to get around the desktop, Windows has a built in feature that allows you to turn your numpad into a mouse where you use the arrow keys to move the pointer around. Here's how to enable it.

1. Navigate to the mouse keys menu in Settings. The easiest way to get there is my searching for "mouse keys," using the search box.

Search for Mouse Keys

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Toggle "Turn on Mouse Keys" to on.

Turn on Mouse Keys

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Set the pointer speed and acceleration or leave them at the defaults.

Set pointer speed and acceleration

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

You can now move the pointer around using the arrow keys on the numpad to move with CTRL speeding up the pointer and Shift slowing it down. You left-click by hitting 5, double-click by hitting the + key. You can go into right-click mode by hitting the - key, which then makes the 5 a right-click. You can go back to left-click mode by hitting the numpad / key.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.