Have you ever seen Num/Caps/Scroll Lock actually used WITH modifiers (Shift, Ctrl, Alt) to obtain a different action?

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17 Jan 2020, 21:35

Whenever discussing physical/logical layouts on keyboards and how to best tinker with them, common themes are how some keys aren't "used anymore", how "Num Lock should disappear" (true), "Scroll Lock is obsolete" (false), "Caps Lock takes valuable real state that would be better off as an Fn key" (true enough), etcetera.

While talking about it with some other people, I realized that I don't remember EVER (with one exception; see below) seeing any of the three Lock keys being used with modifiers. Although the operating system will recognize the chords without issue, pressing Shift-Caps Lock, Ctrl-Caps Lock, Alt-Caps Lock (and any combination of the three mods) will ALL do the same as pressing Caps Lock without any mods at all; same for Num Lock and Scroll Lock...

... and I don't know of ANY operating system OR application where any combination of a lock key and modifiers is given any kind of meaning, unlike what happens with the other mod keys (think of Ctrl-F5, Alt-Shift-Tab, Ctrl-Esc, Shift-arrows, etc.). The ONE exception (that I know of) is the IBM Model M SSK, which maps Shift-Scroll Lock to be Num Lock.

I wonder if could this be taken advantage of in a more or less standardized manner. For example, compact keyboards (think 75% and under) have a limited amount of keys, and mapping all the Lock functions to a single key would be advantageous. We could make Caps Lock behave like this:
  • Caps Lock: Caps Lock on/off.
  • Shift-Caps Lock: Scroll Lock on/off.
  • Ctrl-Caps Lock: Num Lock on/off.
  • Alt-Caps Lock: turn on or off the Windows keys.
But this, of course, won't have a chance at working if the Lock keys DO have chorded assignments in some widely (or not-so-widely) used program... so, to circle back to my initial question: have you ever seen mod-Lock chords used anywhere?


18 Jan 2020, 02:26

Most times when I have pressed Caps Lock, I have done so by mistake but it is something that you often noticed right away, and understood how it happened because it was very recent.
A modifier plus Caps Lock pressed accidentally that changes something more subtle that you did not notice right away ... I'd think that would be horribly aggravating. I'd think many users would feel as if the stupid, malfunctioning, goddamned computer did it by itself.

Caps Lock originates from Shift Lock on typewriters where the mode was activated by pressing Shift Lock, but deactivated by pressing a Shift key. Often pressing Shift Lock when pressed did not deactivate the mode.
I think that behaviour would be preferable for Caps Lock, if in its regular position.
Another thing is that the physical key was latching, so that you could feel that the mode was active — and that is something that would not work if the key's functions are overloaded.

I, like many people map Control on Caps Lock in its usual position. Edit: If the keyboard in firmware would map <modifier>+Caps Lock to something else, then Control+<modifier> would be broken.

I think that if there should be a Caps Lock key at all, then it should be somewhere away from the main keys where it is not easily pressed. If so, then I think your idea would be more suitable.
Edit: Most compact keyboards put Scroll Lock and sometimes Num Lock on an Fn-layer, with Fn as the modifier thus avoiding any clash with a regular modifiers.
Last edited by Findecanor on 09 May 2020, 16:56, edited 1 time in total.

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18 Jan 2020, 03:39

Findecanor wrote:
18 Jan 2020, 02:26
I map Control to that key position anyway. I think that if there should be a Caps Lock key at all, then it should be somewhere away from the main keys where it is not easily pressed. If so, then I think your idea would be more suitable.
Indeed, moving Caps Lock to where Scroll Lock is in fullsize and TKL keyboards is one of the options. Then the vacated key could become Control or, for the younger whipersnappers, Fn (or, for the truly weird guys like myself, a leftside AltGr key).

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18 Jan 2020, 17:59

I have a custom-controller numpad that goes off in a slightly different direction and uses Num Lock itself as a mod key, with QMK's LT() function - tap it to toggle Num Lock as usual, hold it to use as a mod key. For example, Num Lock + 8 acts as Volume Up. It's surprisingly handy!

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19 Jan 2020, 01:00

I usually have CapsLock set as a function key and then FN+TAB is CapsLock and FN+LALT to windows/OS key as most of my keyboards lack a windows key and occasionally it is useful.

For some reason sometimes windows10 will activate the capslock so I like to have at least a FN+key to turn it off. Sometimes I play "From the Depths" and it uses capslock so I will switch for that game.

I normally put Pause to Mute, Scroll lock to volume up and Printscreen to volume down. The FN+ those keys will toggle those keys original functions accordingly.

Numlock is an extremely useful key and it should never be touched. I don't like non-101 key layouts as they lack numpad enter and I don't understand how to keyboard without numpad enter. It is the best key.


24 Jan 2020, 04:10

as a loyal user of the planck, I can say that two layers is all that I need. but three is a bit overkill, which is exactly why I have a 48 key instead of a 47 key, which is where I stash my third layer. the thing with the planck is that you really can only have one set of fn/cmt/ctrl or whatever layout you use, as every single on of those 47/48 keys are valuable. I know some people who use a 30% layout, where the spacebar and enter are stashed in the same row as the other keys, making the layout very hard to type on. on this layout, it is pretty much customary that you use three layers. Now if people that use larger form factor keyboards wanted other actions, they could just have dedicated layer keys on keys that they don't use, like the f row on 75% builds and up. (I know that there are a couple of 65%'s that use a dedicated f row, but those are kinda few and far between) I really don't see this being used on a 60 percent however, as the only way it can work is if you use exclusively the right or left side modifiers. then it could be viable to switch them to being function keys. that reason alone is why I just like 30/40/50 percent builds more then any other form factor, but of course this is just personal opinion, and layout more then anything is such an over contested part of keyboards. if you are ok with the keys that a 60 percent can offer you, then that might be the layout for you. if you would like other keys, then layer keys could be the way to go, as long as you exclusively use one side of modifiers for everything, or one side for all the modifiers minus the shift, if you touch type. also might wanna invest in some black modifier keycaps when going down that road, as to not confuse yourself or others, as layer keycaps normally don't go more then 1u in size. you will be lucky if you can find a set that fits a 60%. because of this I guess combining caps lock with other modifiers could be a viable option? but I just think that layer keys are a whole lot more useful.


09 May 2020, 03:19

Ctrl Scroll Lock acts as Ctrl Break, the same as Ctrl Print Screen.

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09 May 2020, 09:29

Shift + Shift = Caps Lock. Soarer himself told me this macro, and it is golden. For the few times I want BIG DUMB BABY VOICE it is there, far away from accident. Works on every physical layout I’ve encountered.

Typewriter style Shift to exit Shift Lock is a nifty seeming idea, but Shift has other purposes besides upper case. I don’t think I’d want Shift to exit Caps Lock, when I’m typing symbols like asterisk and brackets.

The key left of A = Control. Always.

As for Num and Scroll locks: vestiges of the IBM PC/XT. Neither exists on my computers. Except, indeed, as the SSK’s (and Realforce 87U’s) hidden numpad.


09 May 2020, 17:22

I have found that I have behaviour where I sometimes type both Shift keys without being aware of doing it.
Back in 2012 or so, when I starting using my newly built Phantom I noticed that it became unresponsive now and then and I had to replug it to make it work again. I examined the firmware and found that Shift+Shift was the combo to enter the Bootloader! (I changed it to Control+GUI+GUI)

I use a European keyboard layout where the modifier keys between M and Right Shift are ,: .: and -_
When programming, I often have to write ALL_CAPS_WORDS_SEPARATED_BY_UNDERSCORE.
No, I don't type according to method — I do it like most people: To type letters in caps, I hold the left Shift with my left pinky. And to type the underscore, I type it how I always do, by holding the right Shift and pressing the - key ...

Pinball games also tend to use left and right Shift keys to activate left and right flipper, and it is a valid move to press both at once.

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09 May 2020, 18:41

Pinball? Games? Phooey! Not valid use cases for me.

I did encounter the Shift + Shift “magic” combo on TMK, however. And routed around it so my occasional BUT CONSISTENT combo works even there. I mean, my HHKB already has Caps Lock on Fn + something or another? Tab maybe? Bollocks to remembering. Shift + Shift it is there too!

I’m fairly sure INANE_SEPARATORS_are also just fine in my caps lock mode. Not that I need them often in all caps, myself. That’s what CamelCase is for.

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09 May 2020, 19:58

Muirium wrote:
09 May 2020, 18:41
I’m fairly sure INANE_SEPARATORS_are also just fine in my caps lock mode. Not that I need them often in all caps, myself. That’s what CamelCase is for.
Not in several programming languages where THE_ESTABLISHED_CONVENTION is to write CONSTANT_NAMES like this. Also, good luck explaining CamelCase to people who name the columns in database tables...

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09 May 2020, 23:07

True, I’m only occasionally in code. And the only place I ever see SAID_SEPARATOR_STYLE is in spreadsheet column titles, quite likely spat out from just such a database.

But this was just context for my point about whether Caps Lock and Shift play well together. I suspect they do, but I just don’t often need them.


12 May 2020, 03:56

I came across Xah Lee's page on Japanese input methods.
Apparently, Ctrl+Caps Lock and Shift+Caps Lock are used to switch between modes.

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