What is Scroll Lock?

Time has passed for the scroll lock key, making it the appendage of an IBM-PC computer keyboard. Before, it had a legitimate function: as many monitors could only display 25 lines of text at a time, programming long sequences of commands often became problematic. The scroll lock key allowed users to freeze the current screen in place so the cursor could be redirected easily. Without this function, a programmer working on line 117 might have to manually scroll back to line two for a brief correction. This was very time consuming during a complex programming session.

A keyboard with scroll lock key.

The development of navigation scrollbars eventually made this key virtually useless. Some computer games still use it to allow players to access inventories or to make navigating screens easier, and spreadsheet programs also use the function as a form of placeholder – a user might want to visit a previous block of text without missing a beat. your current position, for example. For most other modern programming needs, navigation scrollbars and cursor directional arrows largely meet this need.

Many laptop keyboards today have eliminated the scroll lock key.

In an effort to keep up with consumers’ keyboard needs, IBM and others expanded the original keyboard to include arrow keys and a single-function numeric keypad for calculations. This expansion also allowed for separate function keys such as number (or num) lock, scroll lock, caps lock, and SysRq. With the exception of the Caps Lock key, all these functions have largely been relegated to history. The number lock key has been virtually replaced by separate navigation and numeric input keyboards. The SysRq key never had a function – it was created strictly for a future function that did not materialize.

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Many computer keyboards do not include a scroll lock key, although some do, perhaps for nostalgic purposes.

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