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What Is the Caps Lock Key?

When activated, the caps lock key will make every letter typed capital rather than lower case.
A keyboard with a caps lock key.
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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A caps lock key is one of the keys commonly found on a computer keyboard. On most computer keyboard layouts, this key is located on the left side of the keyboard, below the tab key and above the shift key, though it appears in other locations on some keyboards. The function of this key is to toggle an option on or off that makes every typed letter appear by default as a capital letter instead of a lowercase letter.

In daily work, the caps lock key is utilized often when the user needs to type a long string of capital letters, for instance, an acronym that contains several letters. In Internet culture, people often type words in all capital letters to denote anger, emphasis, or shouting in general. Many people also engage the caps lock when creating headings, titles, or important notes in documents. Typically, it is easier to use this key only when there needs to be a large number of capital letters. Otherwise, it is simpler to hold down the shift key to achieve one or two capital letters in a row.

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When the caps lock toggle is turned on and the default typing mode uses all capital letters, the shift key can also be held down to temporarily switch back to lowercase. This function is similar to how shift is used to create capital letters when caps lock mode is turned off. This may be a useful option when typing mostly long strings of capital letters with the occasional lowercase letter.

The caps lock key also has uses in computer gaming. In most games, the function of the key can be rebound so it performs a different function. By default, however, this key frequently causes the character to crouch, sneak, run quickly, or other similar action, depending on the game.

The caps lock key is not generally considered a vital key on the keyboard. While it is useful in some instances, its function can be essentially performed by holding down the shift key when typing. Some computer users choose to use a program to disable the caps lock function, often to avoid frustration from accidentally hitting the key while typing and discovering that all of the text is suddenly in capital letters. A few computer and laptop brands have even begun omitting caps lock from the keyboard layout altogether.

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