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Return and Enter: Understanding the Difference in Keyboards

use a key to enter crossword clue

Monday, 20 July 2020

Have you ever wondered if the “Enter” key on your keyboard is the same as the “Return” key? Well, they may seem similar, but they are actually two different keys that usually perform the same action, although there are exceptions.

The Return Key and the Enter Key

All keyboards have a dedicated Return key. It’s the big key located above the right Shift key. On a Mac, the key code for the Return key is 36, and its glyph is ↵. It’s important to note that the Return key is present on all keyboards.

On the other hand, the Enter key is generally found on extended keyboards with a numeric keypad. It is usually the only oversized key on the keyboard that is larger vertically, rather than horizontally. The Mac key code for the Enter key is 76, and its glyph is ⌅. The key itself is labeled “Enter”.

If your keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated Enter key, you can still type it by pressing Fn-Return. This is why some Return keys have “Enter” printed in small type above the word “Return”. However, if your keyboard lacks both a dedicated Enter key and an Fn modifier key, typing Enter may not be possible without resorting to sorcery.

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Differences in Functionality

Return and Enter usually perform the same action, but there are situations where they differ:

  • In Tweetbot for Mac, when editing a tweet, Return inserts a newline character, while Enter immediately sends the tweet.
  • In Script Editor and Script Debugger, Return inserts a newline, but Enter compiles the script.
  • In a BBEdit shell worksheet, Return inserts a newline, while Enter executes the current line.
  • In some spreadsheets (except Numbers), Return confirms the contents of the cell being edited and moves the selection to the next row, while Enter simply confirms the contents of the current cell.

To summarize, Return is generally used for typing a newline character, while Enter is used to submit or confirm what you have already typed without adding a new line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use the Enter key if my keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated Enter key or an Fn modifier key?
A: Unfortunately, if your keyboard lacks both a dedicated Enter key and an Fn modifier key, typing Enter may not be possible.

Q: Are the Return and Enter keys the same on all keyboards?
A: The Return key is present on all keyboards, while the Enter key is typically found on extended keyboards with a numeric keypad.

Conclusion

Although the Return and Enter keys may seem interchangeable, they do have subtle differences in functionality. Understanding these differences can help you navigate your keyboard more effectively. So, next time you’re typing away, remember that the Enter key isn’t just another name for the Return key.

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