Escape Key

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
escape key 20200721 4CB7m
escape key

What Does Escape Key Do

originally, in 1970s or 1980s, Escape is used to represent the ASCII Control Characters 27, named escape. [ASCII Characters], and that character is used as a start character for escape sequence. escape sequence is part of “control sequences”, typically to signify out-of-band info.

in terminal, control sequences is used to represent colored text [see Linux: Bash Color Prompt] or other control sequence, or represent keys such as arrow keys and F1 F2 etc function keys.

Still so in unix/linux terminal.

escape character can also be generated by pressing Ctrl+[

in the vi editor, it's used to switch to command mode.

escape key since year 1990s or 2000s in desktop software is usually used as a keyboard shortcut to dismiss a dialog box, especially on Microsoft Windows.

in computer games, escape key usually does pause, or bright up in-game menu.

Escape Key on Microsoft Windows

opens Windows: Task Manager
Close dialog.
Start menu. same as pressing ❖ Window
Next window (no dialog). Skip minimized windows.
Previous window (no dialog). Skip minimized windows.
❖ Window+Escape
Exit screen zoom

Escape Key on Mac

The Alt Mode key equivalent to escape functionality

before escape became popular in ~1980s, some keyboards have a key labeled Alt or Alt Mode, that functions equivalent to escape key. (note, this is not today's Alt key on Microsoft Windows keyboard.)


Symbol for Escape Key

[see Unicode: Keyboard Symbols ⌘ ↵ ⌫]

Escape Key on MacBook Air M1 2021

M1 MacBook Air kbd 20211219 rjQ8
M1 MacBook Air kbd 20211219

[see MacBook Air M1 (2021)]