In the 'it's a feature' department: Caps Lock keys

In the 'it's a feature' department: Caps Lock keys

Summary: If you've noticed a change in the behavior of your Caps Lock key on new Apple machines, that may be the sign of a feature, not a bug.


In the ‘it’s a feature’ department: Caps Lock keysIf you've noticed a change in the behavior of your Caps Lock key on new Apple machines, that may be the sign of a feature, not a bug.

Apple on Friday posted technical notes about the Caps Lock behavior of the "new" aluminum Apple Keyboard (2007) as well as the keyboards on the MacBook Air, and refreshed MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks.

What users may have noticed as a problem is that pressing the Caps Lock key "may not immediately activate the Caps Lock function." It appears that this is a feature not a bug.

The Caps Lock function has been modified to reduce accidental activation. The key must now be held down slightly longer in order to activate the Caps Lock function.

What caught my eye was a related sidebar on one of the technotes. It was about how the trackpad can become unresponsive while plugged into AC power. I haven't had this happen (yet).

From the suggested solutions, it sounds as if a grounding issue is messing up its ability to measure the difference in capacitance of the user's fingers.

• Try disconnecting the MagSafe connector from the computer and check the trackpad function. If the trackpad becomes responsive again, improper grounding may be the issue. • If a two-prong AC plug is being used with the power adapter, try using the three-prong power cable that shipped with your computer and plug it into a grounded outlet. • If the issue persists, make sure the third prong is present and do not use an adapter to enable the three-prong adapter to be used in a two-prong outlet. Note that the ground in the three-prong outlet may not be connected. This is common in older homes or buildings with replaced outlets. In these situations, the three-prong power cable will not improve trackpad responsiveness. • If a grounded outlet is not available, rest your palm on the palm rest when using the trackpad. This should enable the trackpad to function properly.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • Decades ago...

    I had a DEC machine running ULTRIX on my desk. I would fire off the screensave/keyboard lock mechanism and then punch the CAPS LOCK key. Oddly enough the little CAPS LOCK light would fail to light up! A little added security.

    We sysadmin people can be a paranoid bunch at times. ;-)
    • Oh yeah...

      That's about the time I discovered the ENTER key above the shift key and the ENTER key over in the NUM pad deliver different codes on the, at the time Mac, computers. We watched for the one over the shift key and had to rewrite some stuff to capture the other.
  • RE: In the 'it's a feature' department: Caps Lock keys

    Marcos El Malo
  • RE: In the 'it's a feature' department: Caps Lock keys

    Actually, considering the number of times I've accidentally hit the CAPS LOCK key, this could be a welcome feature in my little world.
  • RE: In the 'it's a feature' department: Caps Lock keys

    I haven't had to use my caps lock key ever. I don't know why this throwback to the Age of Typewriters is even on the keyboard. The only function it seems to serve is to force me to type my passwords in incorrectly.

    I wonder what minor percentage of people are typing in all caps so often that this "feature" is even useful to anyone anymore?
    • Just because you don't use it

      Although you can consider yourself lucky for never having
      to use the caps lock key, think what it would be like if you
      needed to type a lot of text in caps. I work in a language
      where the variables, but not the commands, are case
      sensitive. The standard in this language is to type in ALL
      CAPS. If I had to hold one finger down on Shift all day
      while using my other hand to type, it would really suck! Or,
      should I say "SUCK".
      • Almost nobody uses it ...

        You are a rare exception.

        Statistically speaking, the key is useless. It can be combined with other useless "lock" key - the scroll lock. Put something useful (like another modifier key) on the home row.
        • Not quite so useless.

          I've had to type up customer letters (in Word of all programs)
          and have had multiple whole sentences that needed to be
          capitalized. Even though I could have substituted the shift
          key, it would have made the job a lot tougher than it needed
          to be. This wasn't a one-letter isolated instance either.
      • Without getting into...

        a pissing contest about it. Why not just add an option to the software to do upper case only and drop it from the keyboard. Seems like most software would do that easily enough <>, The only people, normally, who type in all upper case are the old HAM/TTY types (almost being one myself).
    • It's practically all I type in

      I'm an accountant, and all the data entry we do into our accounting programs is in caps. It's faster, and more importantly, it's uniform, so the financial statements are consistent in appearance. I'm quite grateful that I don't have to hold the shift key down all day.

    • re that

      For me it is as I'm mapping my caps lock key to mimic escape. Using vim and having escape more 'handy' is useful, but this 'feature' broke my work flow. I guess I'll have to get used to it for the sake of the awesome keyboard ...
  • Leave it to Apple to come up with the complicated solution

    I noticed that there is no extra space between the 'A' and the Caps Lock key. On all other keyboards, they simply make the caps lock key a little further away to eliminate the problem of accidentally hitting it. Leave it to Apple to come up with unintuitive solution that actually requires an entire blog just to explain. Hilarious!!! :)
    • What keyboards are you talking about?

      I just looked at three PC laptops I had lying around (one Toshiba and two Dell) and all three had their caps lock keys abutting the A key, no space between them. I guess this is just another case where you pull fantasies out of thin air in order to bash Apple unfairly.
      • He toned it down

        At least nonzealot didn't compare Apple's keyboards to child
        molestation. Give the troll some credit. He's already
        compared Apple to a rapist and Steve Jobs to a murderer.
        Marcos El Malo
      • And you are surprised at this because...

        A far lesser moral person might pass some of Zealot's lies
        onto someone at Apple that can bring some legal action
        against him for slander. Luckly (for him), I'm far from
        stooping to that level.
      • I'll show you pictures

        [url=] Tecra A9 keyboard [/url]

        Notice that there is a gap between the caps lock key and the 'A' key so if your finger happens to stray a tiny bit too far to the left, you [b]won't[/b] hit the caps lock key.

        [i]I guess this is just another case where you pull fantasies out of thin air in order to bash Apple unfairly.[/i]

        No, this is yet another case where I provide proof of my statements and the Apple fans scurry back into their holes. I don't suppose I'll be seeing you respond to this. :)
    • The only thing hilarious...

      The only thing hilarious is how you ALWAYS manage to put a
      negative spin on EVERYTHING Apple does! It's amusing to
      see how a brain can be completed wasted in this idle pursuit!
  • RE: Who uses Caps Lock

    All the data entry people, including accountants, use caps
    for everything. As was noted, it's for consistency, also a
    holdover from the mainframes, and popular with people
    using terminal emulations to access other systems (medical
    records systems, for instance).

    Makes me crazy when I go over to see their problems and
    my password doesn't work.

    My Mac has a little light on the Caps Lock key, but touch
    typists never look down anyway. We can see the text. It's
    just the damn passwords!

    In Word, you can style the text as caps or small caps after
    you type it, as I remember.