How to Change Key Mappings in Android

By James Crider

Most Android phones feature at least seven physical or capacitive "touch" buttons: the Power button, two volume buttons, and the Menu, Home, Back and Search buttons. Some Android phones may have extra buttons on the keyboard, below the screen or on the bezel. Advanced users who have unlocked or "rooted" their phones can modify which buttons are used for which tasks by modifying the "keypad.kl" file.

Things You'll Need

  • Rooted Android phone
  • Root-enabled file manager

Step 1

Turn on your phone and press the "Home" button. Tap the application drawer, then tap your root-enabled file explorer app.

Step 2

Tap "/" or "..." until you see the top folder in your Android phone's file system. Tap "System," then "usr," then "keylayout." Find your phone's keylayout file; for most phones, this file is named "[phone model]-keypad.kl." Some phone may have different names, but it will always end with "keypad.kl."

Step 3

Tap and hold the keypad file. Tap "open in text editor." The file opens in a list with three columns: the left column is the system key, the center column is the assigned key value -- such as "home," "a," "b," "c" and "power" -- and the right column controls whether the key can wake the phone up or not.

Step 4

Erase the center column value for any key to completely disable it. To reassign the key, replace the center column value with another one from the same column. Change the right column value to either "WAKE" or blank to enable the wake function. Do not modify the left column.

Step 5

Tap the "Menu" button, then "Save and Exit" when you're finished. Restart your phone to apply the changes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Only attempt this process if you're an advanced user who's comfortable with root-level Android file management. Changing or disabling key values can make your Android phone difficult or impossible to use.