Is there still a use for this key in modern operating systems? I know back in the days of the rapid fire dir /s on ten thousand files in DOS 5.5 this key was indispensable, but is it needed anymore? If not, can I remap it to do something else? If so, what?

  • I use as my media Play/Pause button – wjdp Mar 22 '15 at 15:50

In Windows, Windows + Pause/Break opens up the System Properties window. Not exactly relevant to what the key was originally designed for, but still quite useful!


The Pause/Break key can also be used during boot to pause a POST screen so you can read it before continuing. I find it useful when I'm trying to double check that something is detected properly by the BIOS.

  • ok thats a given. I figure any remapping i do wouldn't effect that – NoCarrier Jul 24 '09 at 21:31
  • 2
    For sure. You could remap it to anything you want without affecting its functionality at boot time. – Auxonic Jul 28 '09 at 17:44

Windows supports remapping keys itself: howtoogeek article

Ctrl + Break is still useful on the command prompt to send a break character; but Ctrl + C is a little easier.


If you ever have to configure equipment using a terminal emulator, you might wish you had kept the key. You need that key to halt the cisco boot process to recover the IOS or the configuration. I have had to do this to get into cisco devices people have forgotten the password on quite a few times.

Now if you never ever do this sort of thing then you have no disincentive to remap the key. I find it more practical to map key combinations that you never ever use. This is particularly the case in multi-clipboard apps I have used doing repetitive tasks.


You can remap any key to do just about anything if you install AutoHotkey.

  • this question is not windows-specific. – Blauhirn Jul 14 '17 at 17:09

The command prompt still accepts this key in XP, as other OSes.


Here are a couple common keyboard alternatives (please feel free to contribute to this list)

  • General -Pause
  • General -Shift + Pause
  • Lenovo - Ctrl + Fn + F11
  • Lenovo - Ctrl + Fn + B
  • Lenovo - Fn + B
  • Samsung - Fn + B
  • HewlettPackard - Ctrl + Fn + Pause
  • HewlettPackard - Ctrl + Fn + Right-Shift
  • Dell - Fn + ⊞ Win + B

ctrl+alt+break is a useful shortcut to toggle between full-screen and windowed remote desktop sessions.

ctrl+break is a useful shortcut for stopping a build in Visual Studio.

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