What Is a Toggle Key?

By Carol Finch

Toggle keys turn computer features on or off and, in some cases, create navigation shortcuts. Although useful, they can sometimes be irritating. If you have a visual impairment or don't look at your screen when you type, you may toggle the wrong feature without realizing your mistake. If this is an issue, you can enable an accessibility feature in Windows 8.1 and 7 that makes a sound whenever you press certain keys.

Examples of Toggle Keys

Some keys toggle one feature -- for example, the "Caps Lock" key turns capital letters on and off. You can also use toggle combinations to help you navigate around your computer. For example, press the "Alt" and "Tab" keys together to switch between open programs without minimizing windows. Note that toggle keys don't always have the same function in different operating systems. If you press "Windows logo key + Space" in Windows 7, you preview the desktop; in Windows 8.1, this combination toggles between keyboard languages.

Enable Toggle Alerts

In Windows 8.1, type "Change how your keyboard works" and select the option when it appears in the search results. Check the box next to "Turn on Toggle Keys" and select "Apply" and "OK." In Windows 7, type “Ease of Access” into the search box on your Start menu and select it from the results. Click "Make the keyboard easier to use,” check the “Turn on Toggle Keys" box and apply your changes. You can also set a keyboard shortcut in these menus that turns alerts on and off when you hold down the "Num Lock" key. Note that you hear alerts only when you press the "Caps Lock," "Num Lock" or "Scroll Lock" keys.