Is It Time To Get Rid Of The Caps Lock Key?

“At its worst, it’s a waste of precious space, an annoyance, a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist any more,” complains Daniel Colin James, a writer, developer, and product manager. In a recent Medium essay, he called the Caps Lock key “an unnecessary holdover from a time when typewriters were the bleeding edge of consumer technology” — and even contacted the man who invented the Caps Lock key (Doug Kerr, who had been a Bell Labs telephone engineer in the 1960s):

I reached out to Doug about his invention, and he responded that while he still uses Caps Lock regularly, “we don’t often today have a reason to type addresses in all caps, which was the context in which the need for the key first manifested itself to me.”

I would go a step further, and say that most of us don’t often have a reason to type anything in all caps today… [A] toggle with the same functionality could easily be activated in a number of different ways for those who really want to write things in all capital letters. (Say, for example, double tapping the Shift key, like how it already works on your phone.) Caps Lock is one of the largest keys on a modern keyboard, and it’s in one of the best spots — right next to the home row. It’s taking up prime real estate, and it’s not paying its rent any more.

Have you ever been in the middle of typing something, and then you get the uneasy feeling thaT YOU FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN AND NOW YOU HAVE TO REWRITE YOUR WORDS? You’re not alone. Accidentally activating Caps Lock is such a relatable mistake that it’s the introductory example for a research paper about accessibility issues with modern computer interfaces. Caps Lock is so frequently engaged unintentionally that password fields in software have to include a “Caps Lock is on” warning.

I’ve heard of people re-mapping their keyboards so the Caps Lock key becomes “Esc” or “Ctrl.” But maybe it comes down to consumers. If you were shopping for a computer and were told that it shipped without a Caps Lock key — would you be more or less likely to buy it?

Share your own thoughts in the comments. Is it time to get rid of the Caps Lock key?

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