I haven't seen any use for it lately? Anyone have any examples?


9 Answers 9


It's more of a vestige from the IBM PC Keyboard. Wikipedia has a nice history on it.

  • Bah, you beat me to it.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 2:36
  • 1
    Hehe. It was close :) You're too busy moderatin' to keep up. hehe. Thanks for the up-vote.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 2:37
  • 1
    +1: decent answer, I could have not have said it better...
    – RSolberg
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 2:44
  • @RSolberg, yes you could, don't be so modest. Hehe.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 16, 2009 at 9:46

Very useful in applications like Excel sometimes, when you want to keep the cursor in a big table in its place while looking around for something.

Has other uses, but since I'm doing in excel at the present this first sprang to mind.


The Straight Dope has a good summary:


The Scroll Lock key has appeared on the keyboards of IBM personal computers since the original 83-key PC/XT and the 84-key AT layouts, and remains on the 101-key and greater "enhanced" keyboards currently in use. The Scroll Lock key wasn't on the original Macintosh keyboards but appears on the Mac's "enhanced" keyboard.

The main intent of the Scroll Lock key was to allow scrolling of screen text up, down and presumably sideways using the arrow keys in the days before large displays and graphical scroll bars. You can see where this might have been handy in the DOS era, when screen output typically was limited to 80 characters wide by 25 rows deep. For some types of programs, spreadsheets being the obvious example, it's still handy now. In Microsoft Excel, Scroll Lock allows you to scroll a spreadsheet with the arrow keys without moving the active cell pointer from the currently highlighted cell. In Quattro Pro, another spreadsheet program, Scroll Lock works in a similar manner, although in contrast to Excel it's not possible to scroll the active cell pointer completely off the screen.


I have a bunch of KVMs that use Scroll-Lock, Scroll-Lock as an "attention" sequence.


It's nice to have a few spare keys around for custom actions :)

I use scroll lock all the time to switch keyboard layouts (thanks IBM!).


Ctrl+Scroll Lock removes annoying message "No files were found to look in. Find was stopped in progress." in Visual Studio. So 'Scroll Lock' is the best key on my keyboard.


Auto-run in World of Warcraft and many other MMOG's.

  • 1
    Actually the default for Auto-run in WoW is NumLock :)
    – Traxex1909
    Commented Dec 16, 2013 at 10:32

In the FreeBSD console, it stops the screen from scrolling, and allows you to page back through the buffer.

  • Linux does this as well.
    – new123456
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 0:26

I use scroll lock when searching through large spreadsheets, I can move around in the spreadsheet without losing my place.

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