How to Disable F1 function in Windows Explorer

Many power Windows XP users who frequent the F2 key for renaming files seem to have the same problem hitting the F1 key every now and then, bringing up the rather slow Windows Help and Support Center. Since there doesn’t seem to be an official registry-based fix without disabling F1 completely or running a background process to trap the key, I had to figure out a hack. Here’s my solution, and I think it’s pretty clean.
When you press F1 in Windows Explorer, an EXE called “helpctr.exe” is run. This makes it relatively easy to get rid of this behavior, by replacing it with a dummy executable that does nothing.
Of course, if your copy of Windows is somewhere other than C:\Windows, replace any references with the correct directory
  • First, download the dummy EXE to C:\Windows\
  • Run the Registry Editor: go to Start, Run, and type:
    regedit
  • Navigate the tree on the left to the following location:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\
    CurrentVersion\App Paths\HELPCTR.EXE
  • On the right side, double-click the word “(Default)” in the list
  • Change the value in the text box to:
    C:\Windows\Dummy.exe
  • Click OK and close the registry editor
To test the fix, just visit My Computer and press F1. Nothing should happen!
This solution seems to have no negative impact on other programs’ Help systems, since regular Windows Help files don’t use the Help Center.
Thanks to “Shaun” on my guestbook for suggesting this newer, cleaner method.

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