The New Apple Keyboard Hates CAPS LOCK

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

About a month ago, I was browsing around Apple-related websites, immersing myself in the culture of my new computer (which I love, by the way). I came across an article by Jonathan Rentzsch that mentioned a delay in the activation of caps lock on the new Apple keyboards.

The story goes like this: Rentzsch could swear he kept accidentally hitting the caps lock key, but when he checked to see if caps lock was engaged, it wasn’t. At first he decided that he must have only thought he was hitting the caps lock key, but after a few weeks, he knew for sure that he hit it a few times. All the while, the caps lock key didn’t engage.

This story mirrored my own experiences, so I was intrigued to read that, when Rentzsch purposely hit the caps lock key, it didn’t engage. After testing it out some more, he discovered that the new Apple keyboards have what he describes as, “undocumented anti-jab protection.” If you quickly tap on the caps lock key, as many of us are prone to do by accident, it won’t engage. If you actually press down on the caps lock key for longer than a predetermined amount of time — Rentzsch puts it at roughly a quarter of a second — caps lock will engage. After testing it myself, I found it to be the case.

This is causing quite a stir, as although most people find this to be incredibly useful, others absolutely hate it. The real problem is that it’s a function of the hardware (the keyboard itself) and not a piece of software that can be disabled. This is confirmed by the fact that, although you can remap the caps lock key to act as a different key, the delay still occurs. The eject key has a software-controlled delay (which can be disabled), so why not do the same for caps lock?

While I’m talking about the new Apple keyboards, a lot of people have been asking me how I like them. It’s hard to tell by looking at them on the website, but the keyboards have a breathtakingly low profile. I thought that might annoy me, but this is by far my favorite keyboard (the IBM Model M comes in a close second for it’s sheer retro geek coolness and it’s purposeful clickiness). I wish the wireless model came in a full-size version, but I guess Apple won’t let us have the best of both worlds (for now).

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3 Comments

  1. Phoenix

    Preventing accidental CAPS LOCK: Smart!

    Hardwiring the delay into the keyboard: STUPID!!

    Stupid for exactly the reason mentioned, because many people remap that key to something more useful. This is a tremendous blunder. I’m making a note here: HUGE FAILURE.*

    (Most Model M keyboards also had removable key-caps! You could easily rearrange them into dvorak or colemak** placements, if that is what you used. When are they coming out with a USB Model M?)

    * If you haven’t played Portal yet, get on that.

    ** Colemak is one of those layouts that re-assigns the caps lock key. And thus we come full-circle.

  2. If someone were to get the rights to produce a USB Model M, they could stand to make quite a bit money.

    I know I’d buy one!

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