Lenovo expanding Del and Esc keys, nuking Caps Lock

Lenovo's new laptop keyboards have bigger Del and Esc keys, which sounds right to me. I love the Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards more than any other keyboard I've tried. I recently switched away from Thinkpads for a season and then switched back and I could almost hear my fingertips sighing in relief as they touched down on the clacky, springy, responsive X200 keyboard. What a treat.
After a year's research, Lenovo boffins have installed larger Delete and Escape keys on their updated ThinkPad laptop T400s range...

The change is based on testing users on which keys they use the most. On average, they used the Escape and Delete keys 700 times per week, yet those were the only non-letter keys, that hadn't been made bigger.

Lenovo decided to make these two keys about twice as long in the vertical direction to fit the way people reach up for them.

Apparently the next keyboard evolution could be the death of the caps lock. It comes from the days when you wrote headings in capitals but these days exists only to be accidently pressed, stuff up passwords, or make you shout online.

Lenovo increases size of panic buttons (via /.)


  1. Aside from causing annoyance when accidentally hit in masked “password” fields, I can’t recall many other times I have ever used the caps lock key.


  3. Flush the caps lock? I use it a lot!
    Now, that dang funny uncle num lock…that’s the bugger what should be kilt.
    Accidentally disengaging that thing is what causes me no end of muffled curses.
    IAS, what is the origin/purpose of the num lock key?
    I can’t think of a single reason to ever need/want one’s nums unlocked.
    Enlighten me?

  4. Anyone who does any kind of data entry knows that sometimes you have to use caps lock. And really, if keyboards were only used to write correspondence and stories, there would have been no need for caps lock on typewriters either. It would be interesting to offer a keyboard without caps lock and see how many of them weren’t returned withing a week. Computers are used for a huge variety of purposes, anything that limits them to a subset of those will presumably also limit sales to a subset of the possible buyers.

  5. Today’s been declared CAPS LOCK DAY in remembrance of Billy Mays, who spoke as if he were talking IN ALL CAPS.

    Coincidentally, yesterday — without knowing about this or the Lenovo changes — I tweeted: “What if your Caps Lock key disappeared tomorrow?”

  6. Working in the architectural field I use all caps for a LOT of my work. Caps lock is critical. However, presumably caps lock could be instigated by some other inconvenient manner. But when I am working on some drawings in autocad AND trying to mack on chicks on google talk at the same time, I NEED CAPS LOCK HANDY!

  7. I do a lot of engineering drawings, in all caps. They can take my key when they pry it from my cold, dead pinky.
    And Torley, I share your grief in the loss of Billy Mays, and tho it was he he drove me to turn the volume down during commercials, I like the guy and greatly admire him as the King of the Pitchmen. We’ll miss your yelling, Billy.
    I guess the Sham-Wow guy needs to step up, but I think he just got arrested, didn’t he?

  8. @6 I just heard that in the voice of Death from Discworld.

    But, yes, data entry does require capslock, so it’s a bit odd to be removing it entirely. Particularly since businesses do make up quite a large number of people who buy computer things.

  9. I can see caps lock occasionally being useful, but it shouldn’t be on the main keyboard. Put it off to the side with scroll lock.

  10. Brought to you by the company who put an ‘Fn’ key where the control key ought to be.

  11. DON’T YOU TOUCH MY CAPS LOCK (I typed this by holding down shift and it took me exactly one hour).

  12. Don’t get the ESC thing. Never used it, myself.

    But do nix CAPS LOCK, or (in acknowledgement of some comments above) please, please, please will Lenovo physically separate it from the A key – whose proximity is the source of 99% of all swearing at my keyboard.

  13. There is one Person who always has caps lock on, and this is Death, because he ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

    And really, if there is one person you don’t like to be angry, then it is Death.


    I myself use the Caps Lock quite a bit as my right hand is usually busy with a digitizer. But beside that, it is a horrible idea to change ANYTHING on a standard keyboard. You should be able to sit down at a new keyboard and type on it without having to constantly stare at it to see where the geniuses designing it decided to relocate the keys.

    The keyboard I am currently using is an example of this. On every peecee keyboard I’ve used since the early ’80s, there is a block of keys that is two high and three wide with the cursor controls:


    I know those babies by heart. But on this &^%$#@$ keyboard somebody decided I would prefer a modified cursor control block, two wide and three high, with a double-height DELETE key:


    with the INSERT key exiled to Siberia. The end result is either a.) I screw up EVERY SINGLE TIME I use the cursor control keys, or b.) I type 25% slower and have to constantly look away from whatever I might be looking at to make sure I don’t do so.

  15. The caps lock is obviously useful to those people who do more with their computers than write stories or blog posts, as several people above have said. I’ll add that as a programmer, I use it all the time for STATIC_VARIABLES.

    That said, it is absurdly large for its limited function. On my MacBook Pro keyboard it is right on the home row and is about the size of two regular keys, and larger than the tab key (which I probably use ten times as often).

    The only reason there could possibly be for making it so big was for the aesthetic balance of the keyboard, mirroring the Return key on the right. If that’s true, though, that’s just dumb.

  16. I’ll just add to the comments that if Lenovo gets rid of the Caps Lock, they will lose pretty much all their business in architecture, engineering, and legal fields. I’m sure there are other professions as well where ALL CAPS is a required standard. I imagine that engineering firms and lawyers are lucrative markets for them, so I can’t see this happening on anything but a netbook.

  17. Unfortunately, there are some dreadfully old software applications out there, that are still in use in some environments, that require all input in caps. One of them is a Tier II ERP program that I won’t name. While I despise ALL CAPS, this is one area where caution may be needed by some companies.

    Sure, anything developed now or in recent years can likely handle (as is, or with minor modification) forcin case changes for the actual recorded data, but some of these legacy systems are the backbone of many smaller businesses, and the companies that own them tend to be (imo) less than interested in modernizing their software.

    Then again, perhaps this is just the kind of kick in the rear those companies need.

  18. Caps-lock is also incredibly useful to molecular biologists. When writing amino-acid or nucleotide sequences, all caps makes them easier to read. I’ll also regularly switch between caps and regular letters to indicate different stretches of sequences.

    Also a few games use the caps-lock key as a run toggle. Although this obviously will be less of an issue for netbooks, and I’m sure its easy enough to re-bind.

  19. remove capslock, but make a sotware workaround, such as pressing L + R shift together activates Capslock, pressing again deactivates it.

  20. maybe thats cuz the keyboard sucks so bad everyone just presses del and esc cuz they hate it

  21. Adding to the many comments championing the caps-lock, I used to be a medical writer and I used the caps-lock CONSTANTLY for government agencies (FDA, CDC, etc) as well as numerous genes and proteins (BRCA, COX2, HER2, and so on).

    Anyone who reports on government will be highly pissed if the caps-lock ever goes away. I have a feeling it will open the market for “business-centric” keyboards.

  22. On keyboards that I use frequently, CAPS LOCK is mapped to ESC. Seriously, even if I was yelling in a post, I would still just hold down Shift with my pinkies before touching CAPS LOCK. I would recommend people map CAPS to something more useful to them.

  23. Do all of you really believe that they’d remove the functionality along with the key?

    It doesn’t not make sense to remove it as a dedicated key prone to accidental stroking. I’m sure that they’d keep the ability alive through a Function-Shift.

  24. On Linux you can “swap caps lock and control”, in Gnome it’s in the Keyboard control panel. (Though I just “make caps lock and additional control key”). Not sure how to do this in Mac or Windows but it’s probably possible.

    … and Lenovo would obviously not remove caps lock from the keyboard entirely, but at least make they key smaller, if not move its position.

    … Scroll lock and num lock are useful if you can configure your computer to make them do other stuff; I map them to window operations like close/maximize/cycle through open windows.

  25. Don’t forget about Unix users that are accustomed to having CTRL (control) where the CAPS LOCK abomination is now. Emacs (and some vi) users are also notorious for changing caps lock into control.

  26. Shame about CAPS LOCK. It’s all in the branding… as someone once said, CAPS LOCK is really just CRUISE CONTROL FOR AWESOME. But I guess that’s hard to silk-screen on to a tiny little button.

  27. Can we please lose the INSERT key? Or could someone at least give me a legitimate and current use for the INSERT key? Help!

  28. The very best upgrade that I have applied to all my computers over the past several years, is the registry hack that disables it.

    It is NOTHING but a wASTE of tIME! Oh, and space too.

    How to spot a complete non-typist, even if they do (like me) use several fingers on each hand — they hit the capslock key before entering a field that has to be entered in CAPS. They are probably also the people that take a hand off the keyboard to click on the ACCEPT button, when pressing Return would have done.

    Which reminds me… the second biggest threat to productivity to those who enter serious amounts of data on a computer is — The Mouse!

  29. I use the caps lock key about 70 times per hour at work, and almost as much at home.
    enso ( http://humanized.com/ ) makes my life on the pc much faster. I couldn’t dream of using a pc without enso, which uses the caps lock key.

  30. Thad, how do you enter a field in all caps? Especially a long field? I think it would be the non-typist that would not use caps.

    It’s a good tool for the job, use it. Holding down Shift costs you one of your touch typing fingers.

    Keep in mind I can type very fast without looking at the keyboard or screen.

  31. Oh, and george57l, escape has numerous and myriad functions. From clearing text fields to entering commands in editors to … hundreds of things that different users do every day. You might not use it, but you can rest assured that many people do.


    I use it all the time. Sometimes when writing, sometimes for data entry into an antiquated system I’m forced to use.

    Make it smaller and/or move it away from the ‘a’ and ‘shift’ keys if you must (where I always fat finger it anyway).

    While we’re redesigning the keyboard, why not:

    1. Remove ‘insert’. Can’t tell you how many times I hit that by accident, causing me to overwrite existing text. When would I ever want to overwrite? If I want to delete text I’ll delete it.

    2. I should be able to select text and then hit caps lock (or some other button or menu option), so as to toggle all selected text between upper case, lower case or mixed case. I’ve had need to do that dozens of times, and right now the only option is to retype it all in.

  33. I also hit Caps Lock 70 times an hour but that’s because I fatfinger the blame thing, so first thing I do when I get a new kybd is pry the bastard off. There’s still a little nubular unit cowering in the recess that I can smack if I really need to.

  34. “I love the Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards”

    I do hope you don’t mean that one where the CTRL key isn’t on bottom left like every other keyboard. That damm thing is a nightmare.

  35. 1) If fields need to be entered in caps, would it be that hard to make it happen automatically? In any case, caps would very likely be reassigned to something like lshift+rshift or fn+shift.

    2) I like Logitech’s big delete key.

    3) I’m not fond of the placement of Fn, like most people. How bout putting that where Caps is?, or even combining the two– the functions are not incompatible.

  36. @17 Anoymous –

    AMEN! I can’t stand the keyboards with the double-size delete key. Screws me up constantly.

  37. but these days exists only to be accidently pressed, stuff up passwords, or make you shout online.

    Or if you use Oracle’s business suite. Apparently, if you spend a gazillion dollars on an ERP suite, everything has to be in caps…guess this sweet little laptop won’t work in the corporate world.

  38. It’s not just the new size/shape of the Delete key. It’s the fact that it now extends to the place where the End key used to be.

    I use the End key A LOT! (Typed by holding down the right shift key with my right pinkie, but I also use CAPS LOCK a lot.)

    Now, instead of the cursor jumping to the end of the line I’m currently editing, I delete something that I wanted to keep.

  39. First they came for the numpad, and I said nothing because I don’t do much numerical entry.
    Then they came for the caps, and I said nothing because I don’t type much in caps.
    Then they came for the F keys, and I said nothing because the F1 key causes me so much grief.
    Then they came for alphanumerics, and I said nothing because I could no longer type.

  40. Rather than CAPS LOCK (which I love), let’s get rid of that #@$% F1 key instead.

    I always hated that thing…I used to hit it so often by accident (only to have the machine temporarily freeze while it searched for the Help information), that I finally removed the durn key myself.

    And yes, I agree, make the Home, End, Pg Up/Dn keys larger and more easy to access.

  41. Are they crazy – there are often large corporate software packages REQUIRING all characters for a long period of time be entered in all CAPITALS. Talk about creating a nightmare.

  42. I will never buy anything without a capslock. I need it for passwords, because my passwords might be, for example, abcDEFGHIJk_l and capslock is part of the way I memorise those.

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