Pet Peeve #52: When You Learn What a Keyboard Button Does by Accidentally Pressing It

165overtype1I’ll never forget the first time I pressed “Insert” button on a computer keyboard.

I was in sixth grade. I was working on a paper in a now-antiquated program called Microsoft Works on our first family PC. At the time I considered the program the pinnacle of technology next to a 16-bit dinosaur game that involved getting eaten by T-Rexes as often as possible.

I was hunting and pecking like a madman (I wouldn’t learn to properly type until summer school the following year), words flowing from my fingers like analogies on a blog. The paper was sure to cause my teacher to instantly promote me to eighth grade.

Then I hit the Insert button.

Of course, I didn’t know I hit the Insert button. All I knew is that whenever I tried to type something, letters disappeared instead. I couldn’t get it to stop.

Eventually I realized that I could get rid of the problem by closing the program and starting over, but by then the damage was done. I was relegated to the sixth grade, a land of puberty, sex-ed, and Hypercolor jackets.

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer–I still have no idea what the insert button does. I bet that even keyboard company executives have no idea what it does, but they’re too afraid to say anything, so they keep putting it on keyboards.

Have you experienced anything like this on the computer, whether it’s a keyboard button or a keyboard command you accidentally activated?

5 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #52: When You Learn What a Keyboard Button Does by Accidentally Pressing It”

  1. The insert key is an artifact from the early days of computing, when text-editors more closely resembled type-writers. The idea is that pressing it changes from “Insert-mode” which adds new characters where you’re cursor is located and is what most people today are familiar with, to “replace-mode” which as you mentioned, replaces the next character in line, which is more similar to a typewriter which can’t just insert characters. Though most people would rather not have it there to annoy them, they keep putting in on to appease crazy people like me who use it every once in a while when I’m feeling particularly lazy.

    The more you know!

      • Bwahaha. You must all suffer for my stubornness. 😛

        To answer your other question, I’ll tell you about an even more fun key: The “Scroll Lock” key. This one is on most modern keyboards and in 99.9% of cases, does absolutely nothing. Really. It’s completely pointless. I think maybe two or three programs actually use it for something. In fact, a keyboard manufacture once stated that the only reason they still put it on their keyboards was that everyone else keeps putting it on theirs.

        Insert might be annoying, but Scroll Lock is just stupid. 🙂

  2. Scroll Lock is the commonly used with KVM switches to switch between machines without having to press a button on the actual switch. Regardless, it truly isn’t used much. Though in general, it might be more reasonable to complain that we all continue to use an archaic keyboard LAYOUT that slows down our typing rather than moving on to a much faster layout.

    • Ha ha…I like how everyone seems to have a different aspect of keyboards they don’t like. 🙂 Perhaps in the future we’ll just think what we want to type and the words will appear where we want them. When that happens, there better not be an insert button in my mind.


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