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A tiny utility to give silent keyboards a 'click' sound of their own
by Steve Gibson,  Gibson Research Corporation.


Page last modified: May 15, 2006 at 12:06Developed by Steve Gibson

If you miss the days of clanky keyboards, or you'd
like an audible indication when your keyboard's
keys are recognized, this little utility is for you.

File stats for: ClicKeyfile download  freeware page
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Last Updated:
Size: 42k
Oct 29, 2005 at 11:32
(3,099.43 days ago)
Downloads/day: 71
Total downloads: 191,605
Current Rank: 5
Historical Rank: 18


ClicKey Features:

Choose from among 26 built-in sounds.
ClicKey contains 26 built-in percussive typing sounds. Some are classic typewriter sounds, others are subtle short clicks, beeps, and boops, while others are more attention-getting and might be appropriate for an on-screen keyboard or public kiosk.
Independent volume control.
Since you might prefer ClicKey's clicks to be almost subliminal, its sounds can be made as quiet as you like.
On-screen user-interface, or invisible startup shortcut.
To keep ClicKey as lightweight (just 42 kbytes) and unobtrusive as possible, I designed it to be launched from a Windows shortcut (probably placed in the "Startup" group) containing its sound specification commands (see details below).
Heard and not seen.
No advertising splash screen and nothing in the Windows "tray" to clutter your screen.
Nothing to "install" or remove.
ClicKey is just "run" as a stand-alone application. It does not need to be "installed", it places nothing in the registry, and can simply be deleted once it is no longer wanted.




Where did ClicKey come from?

Shortly before writing ClicKey I purchased a small sub-notebook computer. The Toshiba Libretto's keyboard is not full size, and I found that sometimes I would press a key and feel the rubbery mechanical "snap", but the key would not register electrically. Letters were missing. So I decided that I needed a bit of aural feedback to confirm when any key was received.

I "Googled" and looked around the Internet for an appropriate bit of freeware to solve the problem and give my keyboard a click sound, but I was unable to find anything suitable. So I decided to write my own ultra-small "GRC style" solution in assembly language. I rolled up my sleeves and ClicKey was born not long after.

My desktop machines all have clanky older-style "Northgate" keyboards using wonderfully noisy "ALPS" keyswitches, but I have seen that other laptop and most recent desktop keyboards are "too quiet". So I thought that perhaps other people might want to add a bit of aural feedback to their laptop and desktop typing experience.

You are invited to download and use ClicKey
to enhance your computer experience. I
hope you find it useful and valuable.




Using ClicKey

For persistent "always on" use of ClicKey, you should place a shortcut to ClicKey in your Windows "Startup" menu. This way Windows will automatically start ClicKey whenever Windows is started.

However, before you do this, you will want to determine which of ClicKey's 26 built-in sounds you wish to use, and at what volume.

That specification should then be added to the Windows shortcut after the "clickey.exe" command (see example below), otherwise ClicKey will pop-up its Sound Chooser dialog box every time Windows starts.

Choosing the best sound and volume:

You will probably choose to use ClicKey's Sound Chooser anytime you want to select from among ClicKey's 26 different sounds, and set ClicKey's volume.

When ClicKey is started without any sound specification options, it assumes that you want to choose a sound, so it switches into "Sound Chooser" mode and displays its Sound Chooser dialog:

While ClicKey's Sound Chooser dialog is highlighted and has the system "focus", each one of your keyboard's A through Z keys will "play" each of ClicKey's corresponding sounds at the volume currently set by the Volume control slider.

The inset window at the bottom center continuously shows the current sound and volume. This line, containing a sound= and volume= command, shows you what to place into a Windows shortcut in order to startup ClicKey so that it will play the current sound for every key on your keyboard.

The "Set" and "Remove" buttons also allow you to install (or keep) ClicKey running at the time, or remove it from RAM memory to restore your keyboard to is usual silent non-ClicKey operation.




ClicKey's command vocabulary quick reference:

For those who already know ClicKey and only want a quick reminder, or those who prefer tinkering with things themselves rather than reading endless textual explanations, here is a quick reference to ClicKey's commands. A thorough explanation of each of these is provided below:

sound={a-z} : sets the current sound
sound="wavefile" : set a user-supplied sound
volume={0-100} : sets the sound volume
toggle : loads or unloads ClicKey
exit : terminate ClicKey
remove : terminate ClicKey
shutdown : terminate ClicKey
kill : terminate ClicKey
unload : terminate ClicKey




ClicKey's command usage:

ClicKey can be easily controlled by adding command options to Windows shortcuts, or by running ClicKey from the Start button's "Run..." dialog and entering any options after the "clickey.exe" command. ClicKey obeys the following commands:

Display ClicKey's built-in sound chooser:
Run the "clickey.exe" program without any arguments:

clickey

This will always pop-up the ClicKey sound chooser, loading ClicKey if it's not already in the system, allowing the user to hear all 26 built-in sounds by pressing keyboard letters A through Z, adjusting their volume with the on-screen volume slider, and finally retaining ClicKey in the system by closing the sound chooser with the "Set" button or removing ClicKey with the "Remove" button.

Load ClicKey and/or set or change the current sound:
Run the "clickey.exe" program with the "sound=" command argument:

clickey sound=m

This will set ClicKey's current sound to the alphabetic letter (a-z) specified after the equals (=) sign. If ClicKey was not already running, it will be loaded with a default sound volume of 100 (full volume). If ClicKey was already running the volume will not be changed.

Load ClicKey and/or set a user-supplied sound:
Run the "clickey.exe" program with a custom "sound=" command argument:

clickey sound="c:\Windows\media\honk.wav"

If none of ClicKey's 26 built-in sounds suit your needs, ClicKey can be given any available wave file to play. Simply enclose the wave file name in single or double quotes and ClicKey will load and use it. Its volume can also be easily controlled like any of ClicKey's built-in sounds.

Load ClicKey and/or set or change the volume:
Run the "clickey.exe" program with the "volume=" command argument:

clickey volume=75

This will set the volume of ClicKey's current sound to the percentage (0-100) specified after the equals (=) sign. If ClicKey was not already running, it will be loaded with a default sound choice (a) and be set to the specified volume. If ClicKey was already running, the chosen sound will not be changed.

Load ClicKey and/or set or change both the current sound and the volume:
Run the "clickey.exe" program with both the "sound=" and "volume=" command arguments:

clickey sound=b volume=80

This is the typical command you would use in a Windows startup shortcut to load ClicKey while setting its initial sound and volume. Since ClicKey's volume defaults to full (volume=100), you only need to specify the volume when you wish to set it to something lower. The same style command can be used at any time to change either or both of ClicKey's chosen sound or volume parameters.

Alternately load and unload ClicKey with a single command:
The "toggle" command will cause ClicKey to alternately load and unload each time the command is given:

clickey sound=g toggle

This command line could be used in a Windows shortcut to alternately load and unload ClicKey. You might place one of these in the Windows Startup group to start ClicKey every time Windows starts, then place another copy down in the single-click "quick launch" bar or on your desktop to easily silence and unload, or reload ClicKey whenever you wish.

Unload ClicKey:
Any of the following commands will cause ClicKey to immediately terminate and unload itself:

clickey exit
clickey remove
clickey shutdown
clickey kill
clickey unload

You only need to remember one of these to be assured of easily removing ClicKey whenever you no longer want its sounds.

(You could also simply run the ClicKey command by itself to present the Sound Chooser window then click the "Remove" button.)




ClicKey's DLL file:

Although ClicKey is packaged as a single executable (.exe) file, it includes a small (10k) built-in dynamically loaded library (.dll) file named "clickey.dll". ClicKey automatically creates this file whenever it starts and uses it while it is running. It also attempts to delete it as it is terminating. But Windows may sometimes be using the file as ClicKey is terminating and will prevent its deletion. You are free to delete ClicKey's "clickey.dll" file any time ClicKey is not running and when you are deleting ClicKey from a system.




Version history:

GRC's recent and all future software uses a four-part compound version number:

[major ver].[minor ver].[build day of century].[build number in day]

1.0.2128.3  – Initial release

That's the whole ClicKey story.

I hope you find ClicKey to be a simple but useful addition to your system.


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Last Edit: May 15, 2006 at 12:06 (2,901.41 days ago)Viewed 91 times per day