Alt keyboard keyShort for Alternate, Alt is a modifier key located on both sides of the spacebar key on IBM compatible computer keyboards. The picture shows an example of an Alt key. This term may also be used to describe a key combination, such as the example below.

Ctrl + Alt + Del

The above combination means to press and hold the CTRL, ALT, and DEL keys all at the same time to reboot the computer or open the task manager window.

Below are some other commonly used Alt shortcut keys on a Windows computer.

  • Alt + F = Pressing these two keys opens the File menu in an open program.
  • Alt + F4 = These keys close the open program. To close an open window in a program press Ctrl+F4.
  • Alt + Space bar = Open the Window menu of the program currently open.
  • Alt + Tab = These keys switch between open programs left-to-right. Pressing Alt+Shift+Tab reverses the order of switching programs.

Tip: See our shortcut key list for a full listing of all shortcuts.

Tip: In Internet Explorer, pressing the Alt key shows the menu bar visible near the top of the program window.

Tip: Users more familiar with the Apple Macintosh computers can relate this key to the Option key.

Related pages

Also see: Alt text, CTRL, Keyboard terms, Modifier key, Option key