In computing alphanumeric keys are simply keys on your keyboard that consist of all letters and numbers and some different symbols. These keys include all letters starting from A leading to Z and numbers from 0 to 9.
Alphanumeric keyboards which are the de-facto standard for all computer keyboards are separated into five rows with the top been numeric followed by another row for alphabetical characters. In addition the keyboard contains the middle row for alphanumeric characters, the space bar and all other keys such as control, alt and the function (Fn) key.
(a standard computer keyboard showing the configuration of all keys)
Use in passwords
When it comes to choosing secure passwords you should make use of alphanumeric characters such as letters (both capital & lower case), numbers and special characters/symbols such as %$&!#$@.
This is critical to ensure your passwords are hard to crack by automated tools used by hackers, despite been harder to crack you should avoid using simple words or phrases which could be easily acquired by hackers.
Check out this article on choosing secure passwords which will help you generate random secure passwords for your online accounts.
Common keys across most keyboards
The Super key:
This key (❖) is an alternative and older name for what is now commonly referred to as the Windows key or Command key on modern keyboards, and is typically bound and handled as such by Linux and BSD operating systems and software.
Shift keys are typically located on the left and right sides of the row below the home row. The term “shift” first appeared in the Remington No. 2 Typewriter in 1878; the No. 1 model was capital-only. Characters that require the use of the shift key on the US layout and similar keyboard layouts include the question mark, exclamation point, and colon.
This key is often used as a modifier in combination with CTRL or other keys to execute a specific shortcut.
The tab button (↹) on a keyboard, the tab (abbreviation for tabulator key or tabular key) is used to advance the cursor to the next tab stop.
The Tab key in word processing and text editing will move the cursor to the next tab stop in a table, insert the ASCII tab character, or insert multiple space characters (depending on the program used).
(Example of the Fn key on a Raspberry Pi keyboard)
The Fn key, which stands for function, is a function key that can be found on many laptops and desktop computers. It is used to combine keys that are normally kept apart.
It can be used to quickly change display or audio settings like brightness, contrast, or volume. It is also known as the F-Lock key when held down in conjunction with the appropriate key to change the settings.
A Control key is used in computing. Ctrl is a modifier key that, when combined with another key, performs a special operation (for example, Ctrl+C); like the Shift key, the Control key rarely performs any function when pressed alone.
Most keyboards have the Control key on or near the bottom left side (in accordance with the international standard ISO/IEC 9995-2), with many also having one on the bottom right.
Common keyboard shortcuts found across virtually all keyboards
The following list includes several different keyboard shortcuts that can be used across different models of keyboards for your PC:
Opening the file manager
To open up your Windows file manager and browse your different documents and files simply press the Microsoft Windows icon (❖) + E on your keyboard which will open up the file management program for you.
This also works across Linux distributions as well, here is a an example of what the key looks like:
Highlighting all items & copying
Rather than highlighting items one by one in a folder or document you can use one key combination to highlight everything by pressing CTRL (Control) + A on your keyboard which will highlight everything for you ready to copy.
To copy the text or other items now that they are all highlighted simply release and press CTRL + C to copy to your clipboard and press CTRL + V to paste the items into a document, email or other place where you can save text.
Again this keyboard shortcut works across Windows and Linux systems and even computers running graphical BSD based Operating Systems.
Switching between different windows
(Example of the ALT + TAB switcher in action on a Windows 7 PC)
This is very handy for multi-tasking when you have different programs and windows opened and need to quickly jump between them.
To use this while you have a window of a program or file open simply press the 2 keys: ALT + TAB
Finding words in a group of text
If your inside a document or webpage and need to quickly search it for a specific word simple press CTRL + F on your keyboard which will popup a little search box where you can search for a specific word and in most programs like word processors or web browsers you will automatically jump to the specific part of the text where that word is found.
Refresh a web page
Sometimes when you open up a web page in your browser it may not load correctly or be a little sluggish, in this case refreshing it usually fixes things.
You can click on the refresh icon found in the top left hand corner of virtually all browsers however there’s a quick keyboard shortcut that does the same thing:
Simply press: Fn + F5 and the resulting page your on will reload for you.
Frequently Asked Quesions (FAQ)
A normal keyboard has how many alphanumeric keys?
A normal keyboard comprises 62 alphanumeric keys, comprising 26 letters (A-Z) and 10 numeral keys (0-9), as well as additional symbols and special characters.
What is the alphanumeric key layout on a QWERTY keyboard?
For the first row of letters, from left to right, the layout of alphanumeric keys on a QWERTY keyboard is Q-W-E-R-T-Y.
Are the alphanumeric keys on all keyboards the same?
While the layout of alphanumeric keys on keyboards is typically similar, there are some variants, such as the AZERTY pattern used in French-speaking regions and the QWERTZ layout used in German-speaking regions.
What does the number keypad on the right side of a keyboard do?
The numeric keypad is a collection of numeric and arithmetic keys located on the right side of a keyboard. It is used for simple arithmetic operations and rapid number input.
Can alphanumeric keys on a keyboard be customized?
Some keyboards allow users to change the roles of specific keys, such as alphanumeric keys, via software or driver settings. This is common in gaming keyboards and other specialized input devices.
How do alphanumeric keys work to access special characters?
The Shift key, in conjunction with alphanumeric keys, is frequently used to access special characters. Shift + 2 on a regular QWERTY keyboard, for example, creates the “@” symbol.
What is the function of the Caps Lock key, which is located among the alphanumeric keys?
When the Caps Lock key is activated, users can type in capital letters without having to hold down the Shift key. It switches the case of alphabetic characters.
What is the origin of the term “QWERTY” for the alphanumeric key layout?
The QWERTY keyboard layout is named after the first six letters on the top row. It was created to minimise typewriter jams by spacing often used letter combinations apart.
Are there other keyboard layouts besides QWERTY?
Yes, alternate layouts such as Dvorak, Colemak, and others exist to improve typing speed and efficiency. QWERTY, on the other hand, remains the most extensively used and approved standard.
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“Superkey” Wikipedia, 16 Aug. 2004, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superkey. Accessed 13 Nov. 2022.
“Shift key” Wikipedia, 26 Mar. 2004, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shift_key. Accessed 13 Nov. 2022.
Tab key. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tab_key. Published October 28, 2003. Accessed November 13, 2022.
(2005). Fn key [Online]. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fn_key (Accessed: 13 November 2022).
“Control key”, Wikipedia. 25-Feb.-2003. [Online]. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_key. [Accessed: 13-Nov.-2022].