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Every keyboard I have ever seen contained a caps lock and scroll lock key. However, I have never figured out what scroll lock is for, and the caps lock key has always annoyed me (I have disabled it using AutoHotkey :-). I wonder what both keys are good for. Is there anyone who really uses these keys? And is there anybody who knows why you can't buy a keyboard without them?

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I've seen people typing capital letters by hitting Caps, letter, Caps again. Instead of just using shift :-) –  Joey Sep 23 '09 at 8:12
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caps lock is cruise control for cool –  Boris Callens Sep 23 '09 at 8:13
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Yes, I use the caps lock for capitalization more often than I do the shift key. –  Darkwoof Sep 23 '09 at 9:00
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9 Answers 9

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You're not the only person who can't see the point of CapsLock: www.ihatethecapslockkey.com

On that site you can find a utility to do make the CapsLock key act as different key. But you're already doing this with AutoHotKey, but with AutoHotKey you can get more creative in your remapping - and make ScrollLock do something else too.

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Here's what it says on Wikipedia about the scroll lock key:

The scroll lock key was meant to lock all scrolling techniques, and is a remnant from the original IBM PC keyboard, though it is not used by most modern-day software. In the original design, scroll lock was intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. When the scroll lock mode was on, the arrow keys would scroll the contents of a text window instead of moving the cursor. In this usage, scroll lock is a modifier key like Alt and Shift (which modify the function of other keys) and, more specifically, a toggling lock key like Num Lock or Caps Lock, which have a state that persists after the key is released.

Honestly, the only program that I know of that actually modifies its behavior when scroll lock is on is Excel. Other than that, I don't think there are other notable programs that use it.

I'm sure it's pretty clear what Caps lock does. Its usefulness is a bit limited, but I still use it from time to time.

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Actually, Linux TTY's stop their scroll down when the lock is activated. However, you specify notable, so I'm going to let you decide if you want to include them. (However, dreamlax has this covered). –  new123456 Mar 16 '11 at 0:23

The Linux virtual consoles pause the scrolling of output when scroll-lock is turned on (locking the scrolling, I suppose).

Since I very rarely use caps-lock, I remapped it to the “compose” key, which allows me to press a sequence of keys to produce a “composite” character. For example, when I press Caps Lock, /, o, then I get the character ø.

I suppose caps-lock would be very suitable to COBOL developers, since they are always yelling their code.

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+1 for the yelling, that made me grin –  Boris Callens Sep 23 '09 at 8:11
    
+1 for mentioning the TTY. That seems to be an oft-forgotten function. –  new123456 Mar 16 '11 at 0:24

the reason that the caps lock key is in such an annoying location (prime pinky real-estate for such a seldom-used command) is a legacy from old typewriters.

Back before the days of electronics, the caps lock key was attached to a mechanism that physically held down the shift key, so it had to be adjacent to shift

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I have my caps lock key set up for Humanized Enso. Enso is a launcher on Windows, very similar to Quicksilver on the Mac.

However, only the other day I saw a woman typing using the caps lock instead of the shift key. Takes all sorts, I suppose :)

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Double tapping the Scroll Lock is used by many KVM switches to switch screens. I suppose it was chosen because it's rarely used for anything else any more.

Some (e.g. Mac) keyboards label the PrintScreen, Scroll Lock and Pause/Break keys F13, F14 and F15 but they appear to have the same function when connected to a PC.

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Scroll lock is also used by Lotus Notes. When scroll lock is enabled, Lotus Notes will scroll the page.

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The Caps Lock key is used for capitalization, when you do not wish to keep holding down the Shift key. This can be for when you wish to type out a string of capitalized letters, or in general for people like me. LOL.

I find the scroll lock indispensable with my KVM setup - most KVM devices, AFAIK, uses a combination like ScrLck-ScrLck-Enter or ScrLck-ScrLck-1/2/3/4 as hotkeys to switch between devices.

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I guess, no one is old enough to remember the real reason for the caps lock key. Yes, it comes from the typewriters. You see, typewriters did not have these fancy fonts we are all used to. They just had two types of letters: upper and lower case. So, when you wrote your MEMO, or your RESUME, or your TPS REPORT, you would write these titles in capital letters, as you would every SECTION HEADER, and everything you would now put in BOLDFACE or ITALICS (well, some fancy typewriters had italics).

Why Apple still ships the Macbook with a caps lock key, including a built-in tiny LED, is a mystery to me.

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Pretty much every keyboard still has a caps lock key.. –  Simon Sheehan Oct 9 '11 at 3:10

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