The CapsLock Key was not the Problem

Posted on October 28, 2022 by Richard Goulter

It’s fashionable among developers to give a tip about the CapsLock key: you can switch out its functionality, replacing it with the Escape key.

When I did this, in order to then type out something like SEQUENCE_OF_UPPERCASE_WORDS, I’d hold down the shift key using my left pinky finger, and type out the letters as necessary.
– And if you can do that, then the CapsLock key is redundant.

These days, I prefer using a fancy, symmetrical keyboard. (I think buying an expensive fancy keyboard is justifiable if it’s symmetrical, and offers more keys for the thumb to press; and I don’t think it makes sense to spend a lot of money on a keyboard which isn’t symmetrical, etc.).
And the fashionable (and I think superior) way of arranging the modifier keys Shift, Ctrl, Windows/Cmd, Alt keys is to put these as dual-use tap-hold keys on the home row. (Which allows access to these keys without having to move your hand).

With such a keyboard, and with home row modifiers, the “use an improper position which stretches your weak pinky finger” technique doesn’t really work.
Instead, to type UPPERCASE, you end up having to alternate use of the shift key; pressing shift for the opposite side of the letter being pushed.
– I can do this; but I find it to be slower, and error prone. (It’s easy to miss the timing, and type ‘THhiS’ instead of ‘THIS’, as the Shift key requires holding down ‘h’).

For long sequences of uppercases letters, it does make sense to have the CapsLock key available. – Though, with a fancy keyboard, you can have the CapsLock key accessible on (or hidden away on) a layer.

Rather. The CapsLock functionality itself isn’t inherently useless, and needn’t be banished.
It’s that, in a standard keyboard, the real-estate of “on home row, easy to reach” that the CapsLock key occupies is put to much better use by using it for Escape (or Ctrl, or dual-use Escape/Ctrl).
Since a fancy keyboard is nicer to use (the modifier keys are easy to each, and layers allow bringing more keys to within easy reach), you get to use the CapsLock key without it taking up space which could be better utilized.

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