2009-11-26

Microsoft IntelliType Hacks

Perm url with updates: http://xahlee.org/emacs/ms_keyboard/intellitype_hacks.html

Microsoft IntelliType Hacks

Xah Lee, 2009-11-08, 2009-12-05, 2010-01-28

Microsoft IntelliType is a keyboard software that comes with Microsoft keyboards, and works only with Microsoft keyboards. This page is some info on some of the tech detail on how the software works, for those tech geeks who like to customize their keyboards extensively.

As far as i know, there's no public documentation about how intellitype works. So, this writing is somewhat a reverse engineering documentation.

You may first read about Problems of Microsoft IntelliType, to become familiar with what can and cannot be done with IntelliType's interface, or the limit of IntelliType hacking described in this doc can achieve.

Note: This writing is not comprehensive. Its just some notes of my findings. To understand this document fully, you should have at least 1 hour experience in playing or setting up keys using intelliType. For example, you should know how to use IntelliType to remap keys. You should also be familiar with the basics of Windows Registry and XML file.

The tech info in this article should apply to all other Microsoft keyboards, but this article is particularly for using Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 with Microsoft Windows Vista. The IntelliType Pro driver version is “7.0.258.0”.

IntelliType

Microsoft IntelliType Pro for Windows.

Download

IntelliType is free. It can be downloaded at Microsoft website at microsoft.com. However, it works only with Microsoft keyboards.

The software can be launched under Control Panel, Keyboard.

The full name of the software is IntelliType Pro, but we'll just call it IntelliType.

IntelliType Registry

IntelliType commands.xml

IntelliType Processes

The IntelliType processes are “itype.exe” and “dpupdchk.exe”, both located under “C:\Program Files\Microsoft IntelliType Pro\”.

The “itype.exe” is the core software. If this process is not running, then some special keys on your keyboard will not work. For example, the Zoom slider won't work, the My Favorites buttons won't work, the volumn increase/decrease or the Mute button won't display visual feedback (if you have turned on visual feedback). However, some of common special keys will still work. For example, the Web/Home button, Search button, Mail button, Calculator button, all still work but their actions will be system default, not whatever you have defined with IntelliType.

The “dpupdchk.exe” is a software update checker. It will be running only if you have turned on automatic software update check. (i don't remember where this setting is turned on. I think it was during the installation of IntelliType.)

It is safe to restart these processes.

To stop the process, you can use the Windows Task Manager, or Process Explorer.

To start them, you can simply go to control panel and launch Keyboard.

IntelliType Macros

Common Questions

Other Sites

Some people have blogged about IntelliType. Thanks to them, in particular Joel Bennett, which made my research easier.

  • Hacking the Natural 4000 keyboard (2007-12-18) by Joel ‘Jaykul’ Bennett. Source Some documentation of the registry keys and the “commands.xml” structure.
  • Do you have a Microsoft Keyboard with a ‘Zoom Complex?’ (2009-02-07), by Peter Henry Source About changing the Zoom slider to scroll.
  • Hacking the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, redux (2006-11-29) , by Olivier Dagenais. Source About how to make the Zoom slider function as scroll knob. .
  • Change Zoom to Scoll (Mouse | ms ergonomic keyboard 4000) (2005-2009). AutoHotKey forum discussion. Source About changing the Zoom slider and other info.
ms n4000 keyboard sawed off

This guy, Ryan (aka hihihihihi), actually saw'd off the number pad portion of the keyboard. Now, that's a hack! Source