Just Shift It

geek mumblings

I’m one of those people who finds the Caps Lock key on the keyboard more of an annoyance than a useful feature, so I have recently remapped my Caps Lock to Control. This is now surprisingly easy to do on Snow Leopard: launch System Preferences, choose Keyboard and click the ‘Modifier Keys…’ button. I’m quite happy with this as I’ve got a more comfortably-placed Control key, and if I ever need to do a run of all caps characters, I can easily type lowercase and transform to upper case afterwards in most applications.

However, it has made me realise that many people normally type capitals in what I think is a really awkward way. I let a student of mine use my computer to log in to his intranet account to get some information while he was in my office. I warned him in advance that I had remapped my Caps Lock key, and when this received a blank look1, I tried “the Caps Lock key doesn’t work”.

Him: But… how can I enter capitals then?
Me: [a bit astounded] Err… use the Shift key.
Him: Which one is that?
Me: The one with the upwards arrow on it. The big one. There! Just to the left of your left-hand little finger!

Then I went through exactly the same routine with another student. This means that whenever they have to type a capital letter (the beginning of every sentence, if I’m lucky) they hit the Caps Lock key, type the character, then hit the Caps Lock key again.

This astounds me.

1 Fair enough: it's a pretty geeky thing to do.

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