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?

  • 1
    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.


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
  • Logitech - Fn + B
  • Samsung - Fn + B
  • HewlettPackard - Ctrl + Fn + Pause
  • HewlettPackard - Ctrl + Fn + Right-Shift
  • Dell - Fn + B
  • Thank you. Ctrl + Fn + Pause works for Break on my Dell Precision M6800 laptop.
    – spinjector
    Nov 22 '19 at 19:43
  • 1
    While this doesn't answer the original question, this was what I was looking for when google sent me here. Thanks. Also added to the list.
    – matli
    Jan 24 '20 at 9:19
  • Also on Logitech Ergo K860, Fn + WM/SC (Windows Menu / scroll lock key in top right corner) works as break key. For Ctrl+Break == Ctrl+Fn+WM/SL
    – C Perkins
    May 25 at 21:50
  • Fn+B on this Dell Precision 5501 according to en.key-test.ru Adding Win opens Windows properties. Jun 22 at 7:52

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.


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


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

  • 2
    this question is not windows-specific.
    – phil294
    Jul 14 '17 at 17:09

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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