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Disabling the Caps Lock Key

Does your Caps Lock key get in the way of you using Word the way you want to? Does it always seem that your pinky finger hits Caps Lock when you really meant to hit Shift or Tab? Don't worry; there are several approaches you can take to fixing this problem.

You can, of course, simply remove the Caps Lock key from your keyboard. Just slip a small screwdriver under the edge of the keycap and try to pry it off. With just a little pressure, you can easily do this on many keyboards. If you do remove the key, store it in a safe place in case you later need it.

Another approach is to simply configure your system so that it treats the Caps Lock key as some other key. Instructions on how to perform such an operation can be rather involved. For instance, on the following Web page there is a section entitled "Disabling Caps Lock" which provides very detailed instructions on how to configure your system so that Caps Lock is interpreted the same as the Ctrl key.

http://pergatory.mit.edu/perg/resources/Windows_2000.htm

There are also a few things you can do using the Accessibility features of Windows. (This assumes, of course, that you have the Accessibility features installed.) Follow these steps:

  1. Start the Control Panel and double-click on the Accessibility Options applet. You should see the Accessibility Options dialog box with the Keyboard tab selected. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Accessibility Options dialog box with the Keyboard tab selected.

  3. Make sure the Use Toggle Keys check box is selected. (If you stopped right now, your system would make a little sound whenever you hit the Caps Lock key.)
  4. Click on the Sound tab.
  5. Make sure the SoundSentry check box is selected.
  6. Click the Settings button. Windows displays the Settings for SoundSentry dialog box.
  7. Using the drop-down list, choose Flash Active Window.
  8. Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.

That's it. Now, every time you hit the Caps Lock key, your entire screen should flash.

There are also several different freeware or shareware programs available that allow you to disable, via software, the Caps Lock key. A quick search of the Internet turned up several such programs:

A final note: You should realize, as one WordTips subscriber pointed out, that chronically hitting the Caps Lock key is an operator issue that can be corrected with a dose of behavior modification. This subscriber tells the story of years ago switching one typewriter for another. The new typewriter had the end-of-line tab key in the same keyboard position where the backspace key used to be on the old machine. Tired of continually slamming the typewriter carriage to the right when all he wanted was to backspace, the subscriber hit upon the perfect solution: He taped a thumbtack, point up, on top of the offending key. After only three or four sharp jabs to the little finger, your nervous system quickly learns, and you will stop automatically (or accidentally) hitting the wrong key.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1855) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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