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Why is the FN key on the outside left instead of CTRL?

Question

Why is the Fn key on the outside left corner of ThinkPads?  (IdeaPads too)

 

It seems that Ctrl is on the outside corner for many other PC's made by other manufacturers - why is it different?

Answer

Lenovo's, David Hill explains it :  (see orignal blog post for full context)

 

fn_ctrl2_480w.jpg

 

The Fn key  first debuted on the monochrome display ThinkPad 300 in October of 1992.   The Fn key circa 1992 was placed exactly as it is today.  Interestingly enough,  Apple uses the same positions for their Fn and Ctrl keys as ThinkPad. 

 

Every other notebook personal computer manufacturer that I know of  has the Fn and Ctrl key positions swapped. (reversed from how it is on ThinkPad & IdeaPad) 

 

The Fn key was originally placed  by the ThinkPad designers in the lower left hand corner to make the key easier to locate when using the keystroke combinations. There was a rationale. This is especially handy for turning on the ThinkLight in the dark. Aim for the two extreme corners. Desktop keyboards have never had the Fn issue to deal with since there are not such stringent  size contraints for their keyboards that require the use of such a key.

 

Newer model ThinkPads support a function to swap the key functions in BIOS.  If you have a T410, T510, X201, W510, W701 or later ThinkPad, and wish to remap these two keys, check your BIOS for a setting.

 

F1 to enter BIOS on startup

Select Config

Select Keyboard and Mouse

Toggle the Fn and Ctrl Key Swap enable or disable (normal)

 

FN-CTRL SWAP.gif

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Comments

burntoc On 2013-12-18, 20:45 PM
My business partner standardized our laptops on Lenovo. Let me tell you, I remedied that in less than a year. Why, and what would make me switch back to these otherwise great machines? This button arrangement. Love the explanation, and I wish the others had all followed suit, but they didn't. We've swapped the buttons in BIOS but it causes unfamiliar users tons of pain as they keep raising issues thinking the button is broken because they're pressing the wrong one now. For goodness sakes can't you at least, for those keyboards that have easily removable buttons, make the physical size the same so we can actually swap the buttons too?
greybox On 2014-01-12, 14:24 PM

@burntoc:

Have you ever tried to put "Ctrl" sticker on FN key and vice versa? :smileyhappy:

 

 

I hope it's a good sign: the new X1 Carbon doesn't have FN key anymore! Maybe on the future thinkpad models, finally they will blow a wind of change by swapping FN and Ctrl position.

frg On 2014-01-12, 18:07 PM

@greybox: What people seem to want is to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys, not REMOVE Fn which is what they have done to the new X1 Carbon (and that's not the only change: *facepalm* http://photos.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/DSC05790.JPG)

Bauden On 2014-10-14, 3:05 AM
> It's time for revolution, lenovo. The physical button of FN and CTRL must be swapped now as people today are more using CTRL than FN. <
 
Not only that, I use the F# key in many applications.
 
I originally used the old OmniKey keyboards and mapped all my keys for quick macros (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northgate_Computers ).
 
The [F1-12] W540 keys are unreadable and quasi useless in a darkened environment, particularly from the light leak (glow) glow under the keys.
 
Maybe this was designed as a Chinese keyboard?
 
Which bring me to the point that the W540 is available in other language keyboard configurations, so there is no excuse that this cannot be done. Custom keyboards for a real workstation should be made availble, particularly, since the W540 is custom ordered.
 
There is no sleep key, albeit there is a claim for a workaround of the on/off key or closing te lid (which has no grip or indend to easily re-open), nor a screen off key when doing long downloads, or keeping the computer on as a fax receive Workstation when on the road and expecting a Fax at odd hours or when away attending a meeting - or using as a remote server/client.
Shawn3090 On 2014-10-14, 8:45 AM

Bauden,

 

Fn + 4 is the new sleep key for some reason. Also Fn + B for break anf Fn + P for pause.

brillat On 2015-01-12, 2:25 AM

Lenovo - THANK YOU for leaving it this way!!!  The Fn key belongs out where it is!   Anyone who doesn't like it can use your BIOS feature.  I love Fn where it is - on the outside.

 

ThinkPad keyboards are THE selling point.  I want a keyboard that is awesome to type on, that has a TRACKPOINT pointing device (not a touchpad!), that has a full row of function keys and ALL of the special keys including Home/PrintScr/Insert/Delete/Break!  

 

 

frg On 2015-01-13, 17:20 PM
@brillat: belongs just because that's the way it has always been? Pretty lousy reasoning. The BIOS function for sure is nice, but it is not the same thing as if the keys were physically swapped, because the Fn key has a different shape and is much smaller. Trackpoint and rest of the special keys has nothing to do with this topic/issue.
Hillyman On 2018-04-02, 16:03 PM

Once you have swapped the commands through BIOS, then swap the duplicate Ctrl key on the RIGHT with the (remapped) Fn key on the left (they have the same dimensions). At least you'll key one Ctrl key back in the right place!

Softogen On 2019-05-25, 5:20 AM

 I just received my new t580 from employer. I swapped the keys immediately after OS installation. I done it before i configured any other things. I spend some time to find the solution prior to setup any software or desktop wallpaper. I'm using the blind typing and my experience very sensitive to the keys position. I really was going to return the laptop when I had discovered that I can't press the Ctrl key in blind.

It's disappointing that hardware keys can't be switched due to size. It will not affect me but my colleagues.

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