Remap Missing Pause Break Key in Windows

Thanks to the Dell Inspiron 1545 missing the Pause/Break key on the keyboard I had to do some research myself to find out how to work around and remap the break key for Windows 7. Mostly two types of people use the Windows Pause/Break key and these are developers/programmers and gamers. Many games pause with the Pause/Break key and use the same key to unpause the game, for games like Age of Empires III when you load a saved game the game defaults to being paused and you have no way to unpause and play the game without figuring out how to hit the missing Pause/Break key on your keyboard.

This article presents you with 3 solutions to the problem of missing the Pause key on your keyboard and it all depends on how much effort you want to go through and which solution you want to use.

Option 1 – Use On Screen Keyboard to access
Pause / Break Key

This is probably the easiest solution for most people and you just bypass the missing Pause key by using the Microsoft Windows On Screen Keyboard. Yes, Windows comes with OSK or On Screen Keyboard, this cool application popups up and sits on top of any other application and can send signal to other applications as if it were a full keyboard. If you are in a program or a game, just go into windowed or minimize mode, click on your Windows button -> run and type OSK.

Simply load up the OSK and click on the Pause/Break key while accessing the windowed application and it should trigger the Pause/Unpause and allow you to go about your business. This is a quick and effective tip if you only very rarely use the Pause/Break key, but if you use it often (more than a few times per day) then you will probably want something a little more convenient and move on to the second option.

Option 2 – Use SharpKeys To Remap your Pause Key

I have tested and used the SharpKeys Utility to remap the Pause/Break Key (and several other keys) and it works in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 without issue, though it will give you a warning and not mention that it works in Windows 7. Note, I did get a warning about this website from Microsoft Security Essentials that it may contain malware, but found none and I scanned the .exe file with Avira AntiVirus and Microsoft Security Essentials before installing and it came up clean. I always scan files for viruses when I download them and I always use 2 antivirus programs.

Once you install the Freeware Utility SharpKeys you run the program and will be presented with a very simple interface:
You will just simply pick which keys you want to remap on the left, and then which keys you want to remap them to on the right.

The Pause/Break Key can sometimes be Special: NUM_LOCK (00_45) or Unknown: 0xE046 (E0_46) (so select one or both of these keys on the left and remap them to something like “Delete” / F10 or some other key on your keyboard.


The correct remapping happens when you select the key you want to replace on the left, and choose what you want to map it to on the right.  So in the image below, I am replacing the delete key E0_53 with the Pause/Break key 00_45.
sharp keys

1. You start by clicking on the “type a key” button on the left to choose which key you want to swap out, then a popup will display and capture any key you type and display the code for it.

2. Then choose which key you want to replace the key you selected on the left.  If you have a laptop missing a pause/break key, you will likely have to test out finding the 2 codes to see which one works, after you remap the keys the program will write to your Windows Registry (make sure you ran the program as “Administrator” in Windows Vista or Windows 7) or the change may not work. Reboot your machine and the key you mapped Pause/Break to should work properly. I have tested this on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 x64 and it worked on all three systems.

Option 3 – Manually Modify the Windows Registry to Remap Pause Key

This option is for those who don’t want to install and trust Freeware and would rather do the mapping manually themselves. This information can be found over on an article on about keyboard remap pause as delete key and it contains the testing the blogger did to find out exactly how to make this work. This article will walk you through how to find the Windows Registry entries (shows Windows XP but should apply to Windows 7) and even includes a registry file you could download to make the changes automatically. When remapping the Pause key the blogger also noted that the NUM LOCK key got mapped at the same time so the blogger wound up mapping the NUM LOCK key to Null.

Rather than reprint the Windows Registry Entry I want to give credit to Hana and Sarah’s Freeware Blog for doing the work and instead will have you visit the above link to see how to modify the Windows registry to remap the Pause key yourself.


In summary you have a few options on dealing with a missing pause key on your keyboard and all of these options will work, it just depends on which option you want to use. You can also use SharpKeys to disable or remap any other key on your keyboard that you may find annoying as well. Remapping your Pause/Break Key is one solution you may have to implement if you use a compressed keyboard that is missing the pause key or a laptop like the Dell Inspiron 1545 which has no Pause key on the keyboard either.

-Dragon Blogger

Justin Germino
Working in the IT Industry for over 13 years and specializing in web based technologies. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
Justin Germino


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By | 2017-02-21T05:48:29+00:00 July 10th, 2010|Windows7|24 Comments

About the Author:

Working in the IT Industry for over 13 years and specializing in web based technologies. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
  • I play other games (CeasarIV) that also need to be pause when going to toilet, I hate going to the game menu and look for the pause option… I may be dead already before I got the pause on…

    nice tips!thanks 🙂

  • Mostafa Kamel

    thanks for this important information, but i think option 2 reversed

    • Which part, you do select the key you are trying to remap on left, and set it to a new key by picking on on the right.

  • nrgins

    Thanks, man. This is very helpful. Was thinking I’d have to use the onscreen keyboard. Am looking to buy a Vostro 3550, which also doesn’t have a Break key. Completely inane that they don’t include it! I mean, there are extra Function keys available, so they could map one to Break with Fn! Anyway, thanks again for this very helpful article!!!

    • [email protected] you found it helpful for a Vostro, I didn’t realize how valuable the break key was until it was missing 🙂

      • nrgins

        [email protected] Blogger Question for you. I was thinking that I could remap it to the Fn+Key combination (as is already the case on some Dell models, e.g., Fn+F12 = Pause; Ctrl+Fn+F12 = Break, etc.). But now I’m realizing that I can’t do that, apparently. I can map F7 to be Pause, but not Fn+F7. Is that correct?
        So, basically, if I remap it, then I’m sacrificing my F7 key. Couldn’t use it in any applications, since it would be remapped as Pause. Correct?
        So now I’m thinking this might not be such a great way to do, since I may need the F7 key (though, at the moment, can’t think of any applications in which I use it). 
        The reason I say F7 is because it’s the only F key on the Vostro 3550 that doesn’t have a Fn+ function. So I’d want to leave the others alone.
        Also, wanted to share something that I discovered that might be useful. Going through the Windows 7 built-in shortcuts, I noticed they added a new set. If you do Logo + Number, it opens the application that’s pinned to the start menu in that position. So Logo+1 will open the first pinned item, Logo+2 the second pinned item, and so forth.
        So this could be a great shortcut if one were to use the OSK for the Break Key. Rather than doing Start, Run, OSK, Enter to open the keyboard, one could just pin it to the Start menu and do Logo+1. So that would be a quick way to access the OSK. FYI.

        • [email protected] is like a key that only the laptop can understand, I think it supercedes Windows or something.  Can you do cntr+F7 or shift+f7 instead?  The ~ key is rarely used too 🙂

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger Ah, right. I can just do Ctrl+F7 as Break, rather than F7 as Pause and then Ctrl+F7 as break. That might be OK.
          But, actually, I just realized: there’s that little key that brings up the pop-up menu (don’t know what it’s called) that I never use. In fact, I doubt anyone who uses a mouse uses it. So that would be perfect. (And since it’s a required key for all Windows systems, the Vostro 3550 has that useless key.) 
          So, thank you, Microsoft, for creating a totally useless key, so I can use it as my Pause/Break key! Once again, Microsoft, you’ve come through big time!! 🙂
          I think that’ll work fine. Thanks so much!

        • [email protected], glad that worked.

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger In fact, I’m beginning to think that the only reason Microsoft created that key was so that people could have a totally useless key for remapping. Very clever, Microsoft! Very clever. 🙂

  • nrgins

    Hi. So I got the Vostro 3550, and tried the SharpKeys solution you noted above, but don’t seem to be able to get it to work. I’m trying to remap Pause to the Application key (E0_5D), as I noted below. Per the article, I tried Unknown: (E0_46)  & Num Lock (00_45) as the “From” key, but neither worked. I also tried Scroll Lock (00_46), but no success there, either.I’m testing it by having a message box running in an MS Access database, and doing Ctrl+Application key, after I write to the registry and log out and in again. No success. I tried it using the Onscreen Keyboard, doing Ctrl+Pause, and this works to break out of the message box. So I know the computer has the functionality. But I just don’t seem to be able to get the remapping of the keys to work.
    Any ideas? Thanks!! 

    • nrgins

      OK, I got it working. Here’s the deal.
      First (and perhaps most significantly), the image in the article above is wrong. It shows the “To” key as the key you press. It’s the other way around. The “From” key is the key that is pressed, and the “To” key is what you’re mapping it to (in this case, Pause/Break). 
      I finally realized that when I did some simple testing in SharpKeys using ~ and 1. The code on the left is the key you press, and the code on the right is what you want it to do. 
      This is somewhat bizarre, because the article you link to under Option 3 has a screen print that shows it the way you have it – where the key you press is the “To” key on the right. However, I know for a fact that, both when testing it with ~ and 1, and when finally getting it to work with the Application key and Break, the “To” key is the actual function, and the “From” key is the key you press.
      Here’s a screen shot I took of my SharpKeys application after I got it to work: 
      The only thing I can think of is that I’m using SharpKeys 3.5, a newer version than the one that was out when this article was written. Perhaps the software author switched the “From” and “To” functionality in the application? Seems strange. But that’s the only thing I can think of as to why it would be different.
      In any case, here’s the other thing. I found that E0_46 works beautifully for Break, but not for Pause. That is, I do not need to press Ctrl+ to get it to work. It’s just Break by itself. And Num Lock didn’t work either with or without Ctrl+.
      So there seems to be a difference between mapping Pause and mapping Break. Fortunately, I only needed Break. But I think that’s an important point to note.
      Thanks again.

      • nrgins

        P.S. Just found out that mapping the Application key to Scroll Lock (00_46) makes it work as Pause. After doing so, Ctrl+Application works the same as Ctrl+Pause. So 00_46 seems to function as Pause, and E0_46 seems to function as Break (Ctrl+Pause).

      • [email protected] image doesn’t show the number order of the arrows, but if you read the steps it says select the from key on the left and the to key on the right to map it to.  This article was written July 10th 2010 almost 2 years ago, so it hasn’t been updated for newer versions of the software yet.  I may have to update the article.

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger The phrase “map it to” in general is ambiguous to the uninitiated. Could be that you’re mapping the functionality to the key or that you’re mapping the key to the functionality. So I was going by what the picture showed, and it showed the Delete key on the right. So it was showing the functionality mapped to the key. But in version 3.5 at least, it’s the key that’s mapped to the functionality, not the other way around (i.e., the Delete key would be on the left, not the right).
          So, not sure why that is, unless the software changed (which is possible). Either way, I’m thrilled with the results, and glad I figured out how to get it to map to either Pause or Break.

        • [email protected] the above screen shot, I am replacing the “Delete” key with the Pause/Break key, not the other way around.  I compared version 2.0 and 3.5 and they have the same interface.  I will update post to clarify what the image is intending.

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger Yes, I understand that. You’re replacing the Delete key with the Pause/Break key, so that when you press the Delete button it emulates a Pause key, correct? That’s what I’m saying: when you’re done, the Delete key is the key you will press to get a Pause/Break.
          What I’m saying is that when I used it, they key you end up pressing to get the functionality is on the left, and the functionality you want is on the right (see my screen shot, which I gave a link to above).
          So, when I was using it, if I wanted to press Delete to get a Pause/Break, I would put Delete on the left, and Pause/Break on the right.
          Or am I still not understanding something here?

        • [email protected] are absolutely right, I retested and you have to select the key you want to replace on left with key you want to replace it with on the right. I updated the image, changed link to Smartkeys 3.5 and updated the instructions.  I am surprised in 2 years you were the first person to mention I had the mapping steps backwards.  Thanks for correcting me.

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger Thanks, but I’m not 100% convinced you were wrong originally. I still think there’s a chance that the developer reversed the functionality. The reason? In this article (section 3) you posted a link to an article (, and in that article he gives a screen shot of his SharpKeys screen, and his screen shot matches yours, where the key to press is on the right. He says that’s what his SharpKeys screen looked like after he got it working. So I tend to think that the key WAS originally on the right, and the programmer switched it in the newer versions (maybe people were getting confused the other way). Otherwise, why would that article’s screen shot show the key on the right, as well?

        • [email protected] enough, I did confirm you were right with version 3.5 and I updated my link to 3.5 in article so the image now matches the latest version at least.  I do still think it’s frustrating that no break/pause key still happens on so many laptop keyboards to try and save space.

        • nrgins

          [email protected] Blogger Yeah, true, especially since so many programmers and gamers absolutely depend on that functionality! Do those people not exist? It boggles my mind as well that a key that’s still widely used is omitted so often.
          Plus, on my new Vostro 3550, I’ve got a key, right between F12 and Insert that has no functionality except to mute the speakers (which is done with Fn). That could have EASILY been a Pause key – and it would’ve been the perfect location for it, as well! And Fn+ that key could have still been used to mute the speakers. The key’s non-Fn functionality is completely going to waste.
          It’s seriously like they designed this keyboard, had an extra key, and literally couldn’t think of anything useful to put on the key, so wasted it by using it for Mute both with and without Fn! Completely mind-boggling!!!!!!

  • 1nu

    For Dell you can use:
    -Fn + Ins = Pause
    -Fn + Delete = Break

    • nrgins

      Actually, that’s not true. Perhaps on his model of Dell it was set up that way; or maybe because he was using it on a mainframe screen. I don’t know. But Fn+Del does not give you Break.

  • starrychloe

    For the On Screen Keyboard, for some reason, to hit CTRL-BREAK you have to use CTRL-ScrLk. CTRL-Pause doesn’t work.