Shift key

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shift key on an American Windows keyboard

The shift key or shift key ( English shift , toggle, to change) is a key that occurs on keyboards of computers and typewriters ( shift key ). It is often labeled left-justified with an arrow pointing upwards. The symbol intended for this is standardized as Unicode Code Point U + 21E7 under the name Weißer Pfeil nach oben (German) or Upwards White Arrow (English). It only shows the contour of the arrow shape, its area is not filled (hence Weißer / White ):

The buttons are used to switch between operating modes, e.g. B. to switch between the first and second assignment of all keyboard keys. For example, by pressing and holding the Shift key before and while pressing the key of a letter, you can enter the corresponding capital letter instead of a lower case letter. In this way, various special characters can be entered that are assigned to the number keys of the alphanumeric keyboard area as a second assignment. With the Shift key pressed down, i. d. R.  with an arrow key ( , , , ) are marked in the appropriate direction text. Whole words (with and ) or paragraphs (with and ) can be selected by holding down the control key (Windows, Linux) or the Option key (macOS) .

To better support the ten-finger system, there are two toggle buttons, both on the right and left, with mostly identical functions. Some programs differentiate between left and right shift keys, especially games , but word processing programs do not.

The key is also required for various key combinations for controlling operating system functions. Under Microsoft Windows, for example, there is no autostart when starting and no autorun when inserting or plugging in media (CDs, memory cards, USB sticks) while the button is pressed.

To avoid random results, “pressing the shift key at the same time” should not be taken literally. Strictly speaking, it must be pressed more or less shortly before the intended character key and, depending on the technology used, pressed and held for a correspondingly long time. With a computer keyboard, it is sufficient to press a key a few milliseconds beforehand, and the shift key can be released safely before the character key is released. In other words: this key must be pressed while entering the required capital letter (or special character). With an (electro) mechanical typewriter, the shift key must be pressed much earlier and usually held until after the type has hit.

In mechanical typewriters, the key, which was called the shift key at the time, lifts the platen or lowers the type lever basket and thus ensures that the types are hit against the ribbon in a different position , whereby capital letters (or special characters) appear on the paper. In a more recent (electro) mechanical typewriter, on the other hand, the paper roller always remains unchanged, and the key, now known as the shift key, either lowers the type lever basket or turns the ball head or  type wheel 180 degrees.

See also