How to launch PowerToys Run with the Windows logo key

Here's a trick to access the floating Spotlight Search from PowerToys with the "Windows" key.

PowerToys Run via Windows key
PowerToys Run via Windows key / Image: Mauro Huculak

On Windows 11 (and 10), you can use PowerToys Run to launch virtually anything, from apps to settings to folders and files. However, you must use a specific keyboard shortcut whenever you want to bring up the tool. But, it’s possible to remap the shortcut to one of the left or right Windows keys on your keyboard to open Run instead of the Start menu, and in this guide, I will show you how I did this.

PowerToys Run is a utility in the PowerToys suite of utilities that brings a macOS Spotlight Search-like experience to Windows 11 and 10. It lets you quickly launch apps, execute commands, find files and folders, and perform many other tasks. In other words, you can use this tool to replace the Start menu, Windows Search, and even the legacy Run command.

As I was configuring this utility on my computer, I was thinking about the default keyboard shortcut (Alt + Space) that you must remember to use to launch the experience, and then I thought I could map it to the “Windows” key. This would not only make it easier to access the launcher, but it would also remind me to use it. However, in the PowerToys Run settings, it’s not possible to assign the left or right “Windows” key, but you can remap the shortcut using the PowerToys Keyboard Manager.

In this guide, I will show you the steps to replace the Start menu (sort of) with the PowerToys Run utility by remapping the “Windows” key whether you have a computer running Windows 11 or even Windows 10.

Remap PowerToys Run shortcut to the Windows logo key

To launch the Run tool with the Windows logo key, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows.

  2. Search for PowerToys and click the top result to open the app.

    Quick note: You can install PowerToys on Windows using these instructions.
  3. Click on PowerToys Run from the left pane.

  4. Turn on the “Enable PowerToys Run” toggle switch.

    Enable PowerToys Run

  5. Click on Keyboard Manager from the left pane.

  6. Turn on the “Enable Keyboard Manager” toggle switch.

  7. Click the “Remap a key” setting.

    Keyboard Manager

  8. Click the “Add key remapping” button.

  9. Click the Select button on the left.

    Remap PowerToys Run to Windows key

  10. Press the left or right Windows logo key you want to assign to the Run utility.

    Quick tip: I recommend using the right key if you frequently use the “Windows” key to perform different actions, such as to open the Settings app.
  11. Click the Select button to the right (To Send).

  12. Press the “Alt” and “Space” keys to capture the shortcut.

  13. Click the OK button.

  14. Click the OK button again from the top-right.

  15. Click the Continue Anyway button (if applicable).

  16. (Optional) Right-click the Taskbar and choose the Taskbar settings option.

  17. Select the Hide option for the Search setting since you can use Run to search your computer.

    Hide Search from Taskbar

Once you complete the steps, pressing the Windows logo key on the keyboard will bring up the PowerToys Run utility instead of the Start menu. However, you will continue to be able to access the menu by clicking the “Start” button in the Taskbar.

This guide focuses on remapping the launcher shortcut to one of the logo keys on the keyboard, but here are some tips for using the utility.

If you remapped the shortcut, use the Windows key to bring up Run. You can search virtually anything in the utility, but for certain queries, you will have to use the available plugins.

For example, to search for a setting, start with the “$” character, press the spacebar key, and type the setting query (for example, $ Wi-Fi settings).

To search files and folders, start with the “?” character, press the spacebar key, and type the setting query (for example, $ script). 

As you open the Run interface, you will see a list of keywords you can use to perform a specific search.

You can control these settings from the PowerToys Run settings page, more specifically, under the “Plugins” section.

Are you planning to replace the Start menu keyboard key with the quick launcher from PowerToys? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].