Modifier key

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In computing, a modifier key is a special key on a computer keyboard that modifies the normal action of another key when the two are pressed in combination.

For example, Alt+F4 in Microsoft Windows will close the program in the active window ; in this instance, Alt is the modifier key. In contrast, pressing just F4 will probably do nothing unless assigned a specific function in a particular program. By themselves, modifier keys usually do nothing, that is, pressing Alt alone does not trigger any action from the computer.

User interface expert Jef Raskin coined the term "quasimode" to describe the state a computer enters into when a modifier key is pressed.


Modifier keys on personal computers

The most common are:

Shift is the oldest in terms of keyboards in general as it originates from typewriters and is usually used to make uppercase letters when typing.

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