Computer keyboard key explanations

Updated: 10/07/2019 by Computer Hope
Num Lock and Scroll Lock keyboard keys

When dealing with technical commands that use a keyboard (for example, web pages or the command line), you may hear such things as forward slash, backslash, and caret.

Many times, users can be confused as these keys may be unfamiliar. The table below identifies non-alphanumeric keys for US-based keyboards, with a description or link for additional information.


For information on keyboard shortcut key combinations (e.g., Ctrl+S or Alt+F4), see our computer keyboard shortcut keys page.

Key/symbol Explanation
Windows PC keyboards have a Windows key that looks like a four-pane, wavy window.
Command Apple Mac computers have a command key.
Menu PC keyboards also have a Menu key that looks like a cursor pointing to a menu.
Esc Esc (escape) key.
F1 - F12 What are the F1 through F12 keys?
F13 - F24 Information about the F13 through F24 keyboard keys.
Tab Tab key.
Caps lock Caps lock key.
Shift Shift key.
Ctrl Control key.
Fn Function key.
Alt Alternate key (PC only; Mac users have an Option key).
Spacebar Spacebar key.
Arrows Up, down, left, right Arrow keys.
Back Space Back space (or Backspace) key.
Delete Delete or Del key.
Enter Enter key.
Prt Scrn Print Screen key.
Scroll Lock Scroll Lock key.
Pause Pause key.
Break Break key.
Insert Insert key.
Home Home key.
Page up Page up or pg up key.
Page down Page down or pg dn key.
End End key.
Num Lock Num Lock key.
~ Tilde.
` Acute, back quote, grave, grave accent, left quote, open quote, or a push.
! Exclamation mark, exclamation point, or bang.
@ Ampersat, arobase, asperand, at, or at symbol.
# Octothorpe, number, pound, sharp, or hash.
£ Pound Sterling or Pound symbol.
$ Dollar sign or generic currency.
¢ Cent sign.
¥ Chinese/Japenese Yuan.
§ Micro or section.
% Percent.
° Degree.
^ Caret or circumflex.
& Ampersand, epershand, or and symbol.
* Asterisk, mathematical multiplication symbol, and sometimes referred to as star.
( Open or left parenthesis.
) Close or right parenthesis.
- Hyphen, minus, or dash.
_ Underscore.
+ Plus.
= Equal.
{ Open brace, squiggly brackets, or curly bracket.
} Close brace, squiggly brackets, or curly bracket.
[ Open bracket.
] Closed bracket.
| Pipe, or, or vertical bar.
\ Backslash or reverse solidus.
/ Forward slash, solidus, virgule, whack, and mathematical division symbol.
: Colon.
; Semicolon.
" Quote, quotation mark, or inverted commas.
' Apostrophe or single quote.
< Less than or angle brackets.
> Greater than or angle brackets.
, Comma.
. Period, dot or full stop.
? Question mark.

Additional information