Shift key

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Shift
Symbol
X11 "shift" group, Shift_L, Shift_R
USB Keyboard LeftShift, Keyboard RightShift

A Shift key on a regular modern keyboard is a modifier key used for typing in uppercase and other alternate "upper" characters.

In many countries, Shift will access the symbols above the numbers on the number row, but in layouts such as French, the shift key must be pressed in order to type numbers.

Common sizes

The size of the left Shift key differs between ANSI and ISO keyboards, which means that modifier kits such as the RGB modifier kit must be tailored to suit either ISO or ANSI keyboards.

Left

2.25 ANSI, JIS
1.25 ISO, Kinesis Advantage

Right

2.75 Most ANSI, ISO keyboards
2 Cherry G80-11800 and Cherry G80-11900.
1.75 JIS, Happy Hacking Keyboard, Cherry G80-1800
1.25 Kinesis Advantage

Non-typical shift keys

In an alternate meaning, any key that is a modifier key that changes symbolic layer is a shift key.

Some very compact keyboards, such as 40% form-factor and some vintage typewriters have digits and symbols on letter keys with separate shift keys for e.g. Capitals and Figures.

In the TRON layout, the left and right Shift keys are different, printed in the colours red and blue. Either Shift key could be used to make letters capitals, but with other keys each Shift key is used for symbols that are printed on the keys in red or blue, respectively.

On the very first QWERTY typewriter with a "Shift" key (the Remington Type-Writer No. 2), there is a case-changing lever (like a Shift lock key) but two different Shift keys. The Upper Case key in the lower left corner acts like a modern Shift key, shifting into upper case when the lever is set in Lower Case mode. On the other hand, the Lower Case key in the upper right corner of the keyboard shifts into lower case when the lever is set in Upper Case mode.

See also