Why isn’t there a CTRL+ALT+DEL key?

(c) Bertrand Le Roy 2003 I vaguely understand why this weird key combination from the 20th century offers some security advantage that somehow justifies that it’s still present on enterprise versions of Windows, but why does it have to be so hard and inaccessible?

How hard would it be for hardware manufacturers to add a single CTRL+ALT+DEL key, instead of the silly ThinkVantage, ScrLk, Pause, Fn or Caps useless junk keys they feel obligated to inflict on us? Put it under protective glass if you have to, but please make it possible for me to login with one hand.

Think of the benefits: no more support calls asking where the CTRL+ALT+DEL key is, cause it actually exists, now.


  • I tend to use ctrl + shift + escape for this particular reason (I can do it with one hand). It's not the exact same thing as ctrl + alt + delete, but usually when I use either command it's to kill a process off so it works just as well.

  • I tend to use ctrl + shift + escape for this particular reason (I can do it with one hand). It's not the exact same thing as ctrl + alt + delete, but usually when I use either command it's to kill a process off so it works just as well.

  • It's called the Secure Attention Sequence. There would be no sequence if it was just a single key.

  • How would that help you login with one hand if the next screen is going to ask for your password? Unless (*gasp*) you either have a weak password that doesn't require the SHIFT key, or you have no password, or some kind of automatic login?

    And more importantly... what are you doing with the other hand anyway? :)

  • It was deliberately chosen as something you couldn't press by mistake given that it's original task was to soft-reboot the system.

    You *can* press it with one hand, just use the ctrl and alt on the right side of your keyboard...


  • The tablet/laptops given to PDC 2009 attendees has a CTRL+ALT+DEL button. :)

  • While we're at it, let's add an "any" key :)

  • @ludo: Two keys I can do with one hand, three, even on the same side of the keyboard is more difficult and frustrating. And what about people with a handicap? (I'm sure (at least hope) this has been considered but really, I don't know how it's handled)
    And what I'm doing with my other hand is none of your business.
    @Damien: yeah, that's pretty obsolete now though, isn't it?
    @Aaron: is that so? Sweet! I need one of those.
    @Jim: actually, all joking aside, I think you're absolutely right, just add an "any" key and be done with it. Why not? Seriously.

  • You can actually do it on original pc at keyboard (without thoses windows keys, expletives removed), it require just two fingers.

    I actually find scroll lock pretty usefull in excel and pause sometimes usefull in text console.

    Old thinkpad layout (no windows keys) and model M keyboard FTW!

  • how about just a fingerprint scanner?

    passwords in general are so 20th century.

  • @Dave: in some companies, such as mine, fingerprint readers are forbidden because they are easier to fool than a strong password. There's one on my laptop but I can't use it.

  • Hey, don't you work for Microsoft. Microsoft probably paid people millions dollars to think how to ensure people don't accidently reboot their systems or otherwise yuk up what the are working on, which is a pretty good idea to me. Microsoft created CTRL+ALT+DEL. Not every machine is a windows machine so hardware manufacturers like to support as many machines as possible. Stop your belling aching and tell your peers at Microsoft to get work on mapping those keys to useful functions instead of creating new "useful" keys like windows and menu buttons keyboards. But then, Microsoft can't charge hardware manufacturers for the privilege of using those useless keys so I guess that probably won't happen. Talk about glass houses.

  • @Bao: newsflash: CTRL+ALT+DEL hasn't been rebooting the machine for a few iterations of Windows. The Windows and Menu keys (which I find really useful and use all the time) are not "new", they date back from 1995. That was 15 years ago. Overall, I have no idea what you're talking about but it looks like you're reading this from the past somehow. If that's the case, I would advise you invest in Google and Apple stock.

  • I'm sorry Dave; I can't do that.

  • Retina scanner. That way, if tech support needs to access your computer just tear your eyeball out...

    Well, you do have two don't you?

  • Now that the consequences of CTRL-ALT-DEL are not a soft reboot but a call up of a system dialog, it should be done on the SysRq key. The SysRq key shares the property of CTRL-ALT-DEL that it generates a different interrupt to normal keyboard use... and what's more, the legend on the keycap actually implies that you are making a ReQuest of the SYStem. It's almost like they designed it for that!

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