Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

A keyboard curious question

I have probably never used the "Print Screen / Sys Rq" and the "Scroll Lock" Keys. What are they for? And do applications still use them?

Sometimes they are like two strangers among friends.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Print screen puts a picture of the screen on the clipboard for you to use as a screenshot. I believe Scroll Lock was used in the old days of DOS when you could pause a scrolling eg directory list which would ordinarily scroll straight past you on the screen, and if it was long you wouldn't be able to read it all. Could be wrong on that though. And I have no idea what Sys Rq was for!

I recently came across a program that reassigns keys. So for those and other similarly useless keys, I reassigned them to more useful things. So, my right-hand windows key (the one that brings up the context menu) now moves to the next track in winamp, etc. URL is if anyone is interested.

James U-S
Friday, July 23, 2004

Scroll lock is still handy in Excel.

If you hit scroll lock and then use the cursor key's scroll the whole sheet rather than just moving the cursor.

Ged Byrne
Friday, July 23, 2004

Helpfully, alt - Print Screen does a screenshot of the active window (ideal for bug reports).

a cynic writes...
Friday, July 23, 2004

In DOS, PrtScrn dumped the contents of the screen directly to the printer. In many spreadsheets, Scroll lock changed from moving the cursor around a fixed screen to moving the screen around a fixed cursor. I've heard that SysRq was something to do with IBM mainframes.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Scroll lock is also useful to scroll round SVG pictures in Adobe's awful SVG plugin

Harvey Pengwyn
Friday, July 23, 2004

Funnily enough a charity I used to work for had a research director who took against the caps lock key in no uncertain fashion. 

Being an old lefty (well an old Stalinist, who thought that Brezhnev was a sell out) he took direct action and prized the thing out before e-mailing everyone a how-to.

a cynic writes...
Friday, July 23, 2004

Friday, July 23, 2004

On IBM AS/400s, the SysRq function is used to bring up a menu that operates outside of your normal mainframe job.  In our environment it is most often used to spawn a second, parallel terminal session from the same physical terminal.  The user can then toggle between the two sessions.

Friday, July 23, 2004

"So for those and other similarly useless keys, I reassigned them to more useful things."

The first key to reassign is Caps Lock. I hate hitting that one by mistake; make it the same as lEFT sHIFT.

Tom H
Friday, July 23, 2004

I like my caps lock just fine.  It's not my problem if you're a clumsy typist.

Typing out all my constants in code would be an enormous PITA w/o caps lock.

Friday, July 23, 2004

As someone else said, scroll lock is used in many apps such as Excel to scroll the whole window with the arrow keys instead of just moving the cursor location.  Otherwise, to scroll the window with the keyboard you'd first have to move the cursor all the way to the edge and only then would further presses scroll the window.  Also, it keeps your cursor position.  It's actually really handy if you want stay where you are but see a little more data on one side.

I don't think scroll lock was used to pause a scrolling text screen in DOS.  Pause was the key for that.

The idea for SysRq was that it would be this super key that bypasses the keyboard cue and directly calls the operating system.  I remember specifically reading back in the stone age that when we got multitasking operating systems it would be used to bring up things like task management functions that could kill locked-up processes.  But when the multitasking operating systems came, for some reason reason SysRq was never summoned to this duty that it had been patiently waiting to perform for so long.  Probably yet another case of planning ahead but overlooking something important.

Some Ranting Idiot
Friday, July 23, 2004

Scroll Lock is also a great "is the computer awake?" light.  It toggles the LED, showing activity, but you can be confident that it won't adversely affect a program.

I use it to bring the system back from Standby, as the Any key, or to determine whether a frozen machine is just thinking hard (it's frozen but the LED will still toggle), or crashed (no LED toggle). 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Gadwin Systems has a freeware ScreenShot grabber that can be activated by just about any otherwise useless key, including prt scr/sysrq:

Friday, July 23, 2004

Double tapping the scroll lock key on my keyboard activates my KVM switch.

Friday, July 23, 2004

We need to add keyboard keys to toggle Bold, Italics, and Underline. And a pair of keys (or a wheel or something) to switch windows (replacing Alt-Tab).

Friday, July 23, 2004

Yeah, my KVM is double Scroll Lock activated too.

Friday, July 23, 2004

In WinXP, the accessibility options have a setting where a sound is played whenever you turn on or off Caps Lock and Num Lock. It's literally the first thing I do to a new XP install. Check it out.

- And I still don't understand why the Caps Lock key doesn't toggle the case of selected text in Word and other word processing programs.

Friday, July 23, 2004

there's this thing called auto-complete (or intellisense). who needs to try and match/remember the case of some token?

alt-printscreen is also useful in windows, it'll just capture the active window instead of the entire screen.

i would find it intensly strange if capslock, or shift, or other key *modifiers* had an effect on data (e.g. changing thecase). then again, i learned to type on a typewriter, and they had shift lock which actually shifted the carriage and locked it.

Friday, July 23, 2004

there's this thing called auto-complete (or intellisense). who needs to try and match/remember the case of some token?+++

That's for people who use smart IDE's to code.  I do not.  Autocomplete is a bug factory, for all that it's supposed to be the opposite.

Friday, July 23, 2004

muppet, I thought we'd established that you *do* use a smart editor/IDE. Big Time! The auto-completin'-spell-checkin'-syntax-highligthin'-
error-parsin' editor that is.... Syn!

Just that you turn everything off 'cos you're too smart. Right! :-)

Friday, July 23, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home