Hack the Microsoft Natural 4000 keyboard
Posted by Andy Atkinson on April 29, 2006 |
Post type: Gain
The Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 is by far the nicest keyboard I have ever used [Tech Freaks Review] [PC Magazine Review]. I highly recommend this keyboard to anyone that spends a lot of time in front of a computer. Like many others, I noticed the dominant "Zoom" slider button on the front of the keyboard and have wondered why Microsoft did not make this slider customizable through the driver software. It turns out that with a slight modification, the zoom slider can turn into a scroll slider.
The "Zoom" slider button merely duplicates the command to increase font size in Firefox, or magnifies the view in Microsoft Word for example, under its default behavior. This is not very useful, as these tasks are carried out by keyboard commands or mouse strokes quite easily.
The zoom slider is positioned perfectly to be used as a scroll wheel like the one found on older IBM mice, however this is not a possible customization through the user interface, but is possible by modifying a configuration file that the Microsoft driver uses to map actions coming from user input.
1) Edit the configuration file
What you want to do first is open
commands.xml in the "Microsoft IntelliType Pro" folder found in "Program Files." The screenshot below shows the location of this file. The location or name of this file may change over the life of this article, however the basic idea is that there should be an
XML file that maps keys and values, which one should be able to edit.
Open the file in any text editor, MS Notepad will do. Search for "ZoomOut" and you will find many instances of this "value". Here you can change the default behavior for specific applications, or change the default behavior of the slider button in all applications. In order to change the behavior for all applications, you will need to find the instance of
ZoomIn that are not within any specific
Application tags. In my text editor the two values I needed to update were on lines 1609 and 1610.
The following screenshot shows the values after they have been updated. You can update every instance of these values, but pay attention to which applications are affected (you'll see this in the
You may want to back-up
commands.xml before you make the update, if you are unsure about your changes (however you can always grab a new copy from the CD or download the driver package from Microsoft again).
3) Restart the keyboard driver
Now you simply need to restart the keyboard driver. You can restart the
type32.exe driver, or restart Windows (which is easier). Once the driver is restarted, verify that you can now scroll up and down with the slider button. You may want to increase the scroll speed of the slider, which you can do through the Microsoft driver user interface.
You may be tempted to map this button to "Page Up" and "Page Down," remember you already have dedicated keys for this, the slider as a scroll button works best for fine scrolling, since the scroll speed is not very fast. Remember that your mouse cursor must be over the application you want to scroll in. If your mouse cursor is not over Firefox for example, the slider will not scroll.
Update June 19, 2006: I had to reinstall Firefox to get it to pick up the new configuration file changes. Internet Explorer picked up the changes right away. This is likely because I changed the generic tag from "Zoom..." to "Scroll..." before upgrading, but Firefox was not reading this configuration until the new version was installed. I'm scrolling once again.
Update September 17, 2006: Driver download link
Thanks to this forum post for making this "Tip" possible.
About the author(s)
Andy started Pain in the Tech in 2005 as a way to share tips and tutorials with friends and family, and evangelize great products and services. By 2008, Pain in the Tech had 7 contributors, thousands of daily page views. Site ownership was transitioned to Matt Thommes in 2008.