Microsoft is adding a dedicated Copilot (AI assistant in Windows) key to new Windows laptops/PCs, marking the first major change to the keyboard layout in 30 years. This means new Windows PCs will now feature a dedicated Copilot key on their keyboards.
Windows key in keyboards didn't start to appear until the introduction of Windows 95. Today, nearly all keyboards have a
Windows key with the Microsoft logo on them. Microsoft Copilot is a relatively new and less established AI assistant compared to others. So, it's unlikely that all new keyboards will immediately sport a dedicated Copilot key and it is up to individual manufacturers to include it.
While you can't physically add a Copilot key to your existing keyboard, you can easily assign a key to launch Copilot using Windows 11's keyboard customization feature. In this guide, we will see how to assign any key to launch Microsoft Copilot on any keyboard on Windows 11.
What does the Copilot Key do?
The Copilot key will give you access to Microsoft's Copilot, a ChatGPT-like AI assistant for answering queries and performing actions within Windows. When pressed the Copilot key simply launches the Copilot app. If Microsoft Copilot isn't yet available in your country, pressing the Copilot key will launch Windows Search instead.
On the new PCs, the Copilot key will replace the 'menu' key (application key) and sit next to the right-hand
Alt key. However, the key placement may vary depending on the manufacturer and region.
As of now, the key only launches the Microsoft Copilot, but Microsoft may expand its functionality in the future. The Copilot key could potentially be used in combination with other keys for additional shortcuts or AI-related actions.
How to Map a Copilot Key on Your Keyboard Using PowerToys
The Copilot key will provide quick access to the AI-powered Microsoft Copilot experience. If you don't have a dedicated key for it, you can still launch with the Shortcut keys
If you prefer a single-key shortcut or your keyboard doesn't have a physical
Windows key, you can use the PowerToys Keyboard Manager utility to seamlessly assign any single key on any keyboard to launch Microsoft Copilot directly.
Enabling PowerToys Keyboard Manager
- First, download and install PowerToys from the Microsoft Store or Microsoft PowerToys GitHub page.
- To enable the PowerToys Keyboard Manager, open the PowerToys app and go to the 'General' tab.
- Then, scroll down the 'General settings page, and ensure that the 'Run at startup' option is enabled.
- After that, click the 'Restart PowerToys as administrator' to run the app in elevated mode. Because PowerToys may not work correctly properly with elevated applications.
- Once the PowerToys relaunches, go back to the 'General' tab and turn on the 'Always run as administrator' toggle.
Mapping a Key to Launch Copilot using PowerToys
While PowerToys Keyboard Manager offers extensive remapping options for keys, shortcuts, and text, it doesn't currently have the direct functionality to launch an application using a single keystroke.
As mentioned earlier, Microsoft Copilot opens with the
C shortcut. Instead of directly remapping a key to launch the app itself, you can remap it to trigger the shortcut (
C) instead. That way, whenever you press that single key, it will essentially act like pressing
C, which then opens Copilot. Here's how you can do this:
- Open the PowerToys app and navigate to the 'Keyboard Manager' tab on the left.
- On the right-side pane, turn on the toggle for the 'Enable Keyboard Manager' option.
- After enabling Keyboard Manager, click on 'Remap a key' on the same page to open the Remap Keys settings window.
- Now, click the '+ Add key remapping' button.
- In the 'Select' column, select the key you want to use for launching Copilot (e.g.,
Alt, etc.). Alternatively, click the 'Select' button above and press the desired key'.
Since the 'Apps/Menu' key next to the Right Alt is largely unused most of the time, we are using that key on our PC.
- In the 'To send' column, ensure 'Key/Shortcut' is selected in the first drop-down menu.
- Next, find and select the 'Win' key from the second drop-down under the 'To send' column. Or, you can click the 'Select' button, press the
Windowskey on your keyboard, and click 'OK' to choose the key.
- After that, choose the
Ckey from the drop-down next to the second drop-down menu.
- Then, click 'OK' to save and apply the key assignment.
- In the Warning prompt, click 'Continue anyway' to apply the assignment.
- Your selected key is now assigned to launch Microsoft Copilot. Pressing this key will immediately open the Copilot AI assistant on your Windows 11 PC.
Now, you can use the Microsoft Copilot AI assistant to quickly find answers, easily navigate Windows, and efficiently complete tasks, all within your Windows experience.