For many people who spend a lot of hours on their computer, whether for casual use or business purposes, it’s a valuable and precious item which they can’t do without. That’s why it can be a little bit worrying when toddlers or young children get close to your computer, especially when you’re not 100% sure what they’re going to do when they’re near it. Most of them will be quite fascinated and want to play with the keyboard or move the mouse around.
Children and pets are quite good at touching your computer when you don’t really want them to, and when they do could cause something untoward happening. One of the simplest ways of stopping that from happening is to lock down the machine so when a key or mouse button is pressed, nothing happens and your system is safe. Or if you want to show a video or movie on the screen it can’t be interrupted.
Here’s a selection of different ways you can lock the keyboard, mouse and even drives or power button from user interaction. These tools are also useful if you want to clean your keyboard and mouse without unplugging from a booted up Windows.1. KeyFreeze
KeyFreeze is a very simple tool to use, and all you have to do is install it and when it runs will show a window with a 5 second countdown timer. After the time runs down the window will fade out and then your keyboard and mouse will be locked. As it says in the dialog window, to get back to a usable keyboard and mouse simply press the standard Ctrl+Alt+Del combination and then press Escape or the Cancel button to return to the desktop. KeyFreeze has no options to configure and the only button you can press is to turn the lock on again. Works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.
ToddlerTrap is a tiny and very basic tool to lock all keyboard actions and mouse clicks. Run it and you can interact with the programs window but can’t touch anything else. It does have a bit of a disadvantage though, because when you’re using it, the program’s window stays visible at all times. You have to drag it out of the way to stop anyone casually clicking on it because ToddlerTrap is exited and the keyboard and mouse become usable when you click on the X to close the program. If anyone manages to do that by luck or knowing how to, your computer becomes vulnerable again. Holding down a chosen hotkey combination will temporarily allow keyboard or mouse clicks. ToddlerTrap is a simple portable executable programmed in AutoHotkey.
3. Toddler Keys
Toddler Keys is quite a feature rich locking program because not only can it do what most other similar tools can do and lock the keyboard and restrict mouse usage, it can stop CD-ROM trays from opening and also disable the Power button (Windows XP only). Another interesting feature is you can add pictures and audio files via a media manager and every time a key is pressed during lock down, a new picture will be displayed and sound will be played. Useful to keep toddlers occupied without affecting Windows!
Individual functions can be toggled on or off via the tray icon context menu, and double clicking the icon will enable the lock. To exit the locked screen, just type the word QUIT which can be changed to your liking in the Options window. An autolocking timer can be setup to activate after a certain period of inactivity. Works on Windows XP to Windows 7.
Kid-Key-Lock is a utility to partially or completely disable mouse button and keyboard key functions to lock down things to your liking. For instance you can lock only system key combinations, lock all keys except characters, space and enter, or everything on the keyboard. And for the mouse you can lock individual buttons, double clicks, the scroll wheel and even hide the mouse pointer (although the pointer seemed to stay visible in Windows 7). If you’re going to completely lock keyboard and mouse actions and make the program silent, be sure you know the password to show the setup screen again. Kid-Key-Lock works on Windows 2000 to Windows 7 and there are portable or ad supported installer versions available.
This is a again an easy to use and simple program to lock your keyboard and disable mouse clicks with the minimum of fuss, but do pay attention during the install process as you will be offered adware. To use KeyboardLock simply enter the password you want to use in the box and press Start. Then type your chosen password to activate the keyboard and mouse locking, and type it again when you want to unlock the system. Click the About link to view the small selection of Command line arguments supported. Works on Windows XP and above requiring .NET framework 3.5.
6. Child Lock
Child Lock has a useful Autolock function of allowing the computer’s keyboard and mouse to be locked after a 10 minute period of inactivity as well as the simple ability of instantly locking and unlocking using the keyboard combination of Alt+Home or Alt+End. It can also disable only the Windows control keys so if you want to lock a video into full screen for example, it can’t be Alt+tabbed out of. The tray icon has a small traffic light system of green, orange and red lights to determine the current mode you are in. Command line options are available.
Predator is a locking utility with a difference because instead of using a simple key combination or executable, it uses a USB drive to detect whether the computer should have keyboard, mouse and screen locks enabled. After you install the program, a key needs to be installed onto a USB drive. The drive is then polled every 30 seconds and if the key is not detected because the drive has been removed or the key has been deleted, the keyboard and mouse is locked with additional options of blanking/dimming the screen, hiding desktop icons, disabling autorun etc.
If you have a problem with your locking USB drive and key and you can’t unlock your computer, click on the locked screen and press Enter 3 times. This will bring up a window where you can enter the password you setup in the options window to gain access to the desktop and disable monitoring to reconfigure your settings. Some of the advanced options are disabled in the free version. Works on Windows XP and above, 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available.
8. Lock Windows
Of course, the easiest and quickest way to lock the keyboard and mouse down without using any extra software is by using the Windows Lock function. To get there just press Win key + L or go to Start and hover over the log off options arrow -> Lock. This does have a couple of drawbacks though; firstly you will need to create a password on your user account if you don’t have one or it’s very easy to get back in by simply pressing enter, and secondly if you’re playing a video or showing something on screen but don’t want the toddler to interact with the computer, it obviously won’t be seen.