Ctrl

Updated: 04/12/2021 by Computer Hope
Ctrl keyboard key

Short for control, Ctrl is a modifier key found on IBM-compatible computer keyboards in the bottom left and right portion of the main keyboard. The picture is an example of what the Ctrl key may look like on your keyboard.

Tip

See our control keys page for information about the keyboard keys, like the Home key, that help control and navigate a document and computer.

Where is the Ctrl key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the Ctrl keys highlighted in blue.

Ctrl keys

How do you pronounce Ctrl?

Ctrl is pronounced as "control." When writing about the key on a PC keyboard, such as in a keyboard shortcut, it's written as "Ctrl" but pronounced as "control." For example, you'd type "Ctrl+F" but say it as "control plus F."

Apple control key

Apple command key

Apple computer keyboards also have a Control key near the Option and Command keys, as shown in the picture. The Control keys are found in the same location as the Ctrl keys on an IBM computer. However, when comparing functionality to Ctrl on a Windows keyboard, the command key is more similar.

Ctrl keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl is used in keyboard shortcuts, such as the three-finger salute, also known as Ctrl+Alt+Del. This key combination suggests pressing and holding down the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keys to open the Task Manager or reboot the computer. Below is a list of many of the top keyboard shortcuts involving the Ctrl key.

Tip

You can click any of the Ctrl shortcut links below to open a page with a full list of uses for each shortcut.

Ctrl Press the Ctrl key by itself does nothing in most programs. In computer games, Ctrl is often used to crouch or go into a prone position.
Ctrl+0 Pressing Ctrl and 0 (zero) at the same time restores the default zoom level.
Ctrl+1 Switches to the first tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+2 Switches to the second tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+3 Switches to the third tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+4 Switches to the fourth tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+5 Switches to the fifth tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+6 Switches to the sixth tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+7 Switches to the seventh tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+8 Switches to the eighth tab in a browser or another program with tab support.
Ctrl+9 Switches to the last tab in a browser.
Ctrl+A These two keys select all text or other objects.
Ctrl+B Bold highlighted text.
Ctrl+C Copy any selected text or another object.
Ctrl+D Bookmark an open web page or open font window in Microsoft Word.
Ctrl+E Center text.
Ctrl+End Moves cursor to the end of a document or page.
Ctrl+Enter Autocompletes a URL in an address bar.
Ctrl+Esc Open the Windows Start menu.
Ctrl+F Open find window.
Ctrl+F4 Closes the currently active tab or window within a program.
Ctrl+G Go to the next match of a find in a browser and word processors.
Ctrl+H Open the Find and Replace in Notepad, Microsoft Word, and WordPad.
Ctrl+Home Moves cursor to the start of a document or page.
Ctrl+Ins Copy any selected text or another object.
Ctrl+I Italicize text.
Ctrl+J View downloads in browsers and sets justify alignment in Microsoft Word.
Ctrl+K Create a hyperlink for the highlighted text in Microsoft Word and many HTML editors.
Ctrl+L Selects the address bar in a browser or left aligns text in a word processor.
Ctrl+M Indent selected text in word processors and other programs.
Ctrl+N Create a new page or document.
Ctrl+O Open a file in most programs.
Ctrl+P Open a print window to print the page you're viewing.
Ctrl+Q Remove the paragraph formatting in Microsoft Word.
Ctrl+R Reload the page in a browser or right-align text in a word processor.
Ctrl+S Save the document or file.
Ctrl+Space Select an entire column in an Excel spreadsheet.
Ctrl+T Create a new tab in an Internet browser or adjust tabs in word processors.
Ctrl+Tab Switch between open tabs in browsers or other tabbed programs. Ctrl+Shift+Tab goes backwards (right-to-left).
Ctrl+U Underline selected text.
Ctrl+V Paste any text or another object that was copied.
Ctrl+W Close open tab in a browser or close a document in Word.
Ctrl+X Cut selected text or another object.
Ctrl+Y These keys redo any undo action.
Ctrl+Z Undo any recent action.
Ctrl+click Hold down Ctrl and clicking has different functions. See our Ctrl+click page for further information.
Tip

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

Tip

Apple users can usually substitute the Ctrl key keyboard shortcuts with the Command key or control key.

Where is the Ctrl key on smartphones and tablets?

All Android devices, Apple smartphones (iPhone), tablets (iPads), and other mobile devices with touch screens don't have a Ctrl key. The Ctrl key is a modifier key that modifies the functions of other keys (e.g., keyboard shortcuts), which are not used with these devices.

Note

With a computer on-screen keyboard, the Alt key is on both sides of the spacebar.

How to write or abbreviate Ctrl or control

When writing for a PC or IBM-compatible computer, the control key should always be written as "Ctrl" with a capital "C" and lowercase "trl." Early Microsoft documentation and computer keyboards used "CTRL," but have since moved to using "Ctrl." When writing for an Apple computer user, "control" or "Control" should be used to prevent any confusion with them not having a Ctrl key.

Many notations represent the Ctrl key. Some documentation may also list commands, such as ^X, ^C, ^Z, etc., which means Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Z, etc. In other words, a user would want to press and hold the Ctrl or control key and then press the letter following the caret.

Below are example notations that represent pressing and holding down the Ctrl key and C key at the same time. These notations are used as shorthand in documentation and may be shown on computer screens when the Ctrl key is pressed.

Notation Description
^C Traditional notation that uses a caret (^) to represent the Ctrl key with the letter that is pressed in conjunction with the Ctrl key.
Ctrl+C Microsoft notation and notation used throughout Computer Hope.
CTRL-C Early notation used by Microsoft.
⌃C or Control-C Traditional macOS notation uses the "up arrowhead" character (U+2303, ⌃), followed by the letter used, to indicate a control key combination.
C-c Emacs and Vim notation.
Ctrl/C OpenVMS notation.

Alt, Caret, Computer abbreviations, Control, Control keys, Keyboard terms, Modifier key, Option key