Why we need Esc key: Functions and shortcuts

Controlling a personal computer is carried out by using a keyboard and a mouse. Keyboard, besides numbers, letters and punctuation marks, has a large number of functional keys. Some buttons are not often used in the standard use of the PC, so not everyone understands their purpose. Users often have a question why exactly we need the Esc key and in what situations it can be used.

The history of its appearance and why it is called so

Esc is an abbreviation of the English word “Escape”. This key is used to return to the previous state or exit in applications, games and programs. It is located in the upper left corner of the keyboard. This key has been present on desktop keyboards almost from the beginning. It was originally used in terminals. By the time the first mass-produced computer was released, it began to be used to deselect, exit a selected mode, and as an antagonist to the Enter key.

Esc key

Modern users pay little attention to this key, preferring to cancel operations with mouse clicks. If you start to actively use Esc while working with a PC, you can speed up many procedures and increase the comfort of using the device.

What functions the button performs

Pressing Esc allows you to perform many operations. The specific action depends on what application is running. Among the main functions of the Esc key are:

  • Closing the dialog box, search bar and other pop-up elements;
  • Exit full screen mode when viewing a photo or using a browser
  • cancel the operation in progress;
  • cancel the selection.

In computer games, the button is often used to pause the gameplay and go to the settings menu. Escape is often used when working with documents to deselect text and return from the settings menu.

Program and app developers can give the key their own unique capabilities. However, in most cases, Esc is used precisely as the undo key. To find out how the key works in different programs, you should study the information in the utility’s help.

Hotkeys using Escape

The functionality of the button is greatly expanded if you use it in combination with other keys. A hotkey combination is a simultaneous pressing of 2 or 3 keys on the keyboard. Among the combinations that can be used on a Windows PC are:

  • CTRL+SHIFT+ Esc (opens the Task Manager);
  • ALT+ Esc (to quickly move between open windows);
  • CTRL+SHIFT+Esc (quickly opens the start menu).

Task Manager is used to view the running processes, to estimate the load on the system resources. It can also be used to close processes that stop responding or work incorrectly. A combination of Escape, Control, and Shift keys will open the Task Manager and perform the necessary actions to solve the problem.

A quick simultaneous click on Alt and Escape lets you switch tabs by moving between open windows. Switching takes less than a second. The Control+Escape combination is rarely used because you can simply click a separate Windows button to perform it.


The Escape key helps to simplify your work at the computer when surfing the Internet and using applications. When working with the command line, pop-up windows, and text documents, Esc is an indispensable button. Some commands can only be executed by pressing this key (pause in games, exit full screen mode in applications).

Esc key

People who work daily at a PC for a long period of time are recommended to learn the hot combinations with different function keys in order to use the computer with maximum efficiency. Advanced users work more efficiently and faster due to knowledge of even the simplest programs.

06.10.2021 16:15 6416

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