Computer keyboard key explanations

Updated: 05/21/2018 by Computer Hope

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

Many times, this can be confusing for anyone unfamiliar with each of the symbols on a keyboard. The table below identifies non-alphanumeric keys with a description or link for additional information.

Note: For information on keyboard shortcut key combinations (i.e. 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 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 Information about the F1 through F12 keyboard keys.
F13 - F24 Information about the F13 through F24 keyboard keys.
Tab Tab key.
Caps lock Caps lock key.
Shift Shift key.
Ctrl Ctrl (control) key.
Fn Fn (function) key.
Alt Alt (alternate) key (PC only; Mac users have 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 parenthesis.
) Close 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