Saturday, November 19, 2005

'Enter' and 'Return'

OK, I'll bite: what's the difference between the 'Enter' key and the 'Return' key on a Mac keyboard?

I didn't even know I had both 'Enter' and 'Return' keys until I was reading a post at Daring Fireball a few days ago. (That post, by the way, is a review of the new 15" PowerBook G4. It sounds like the range has a few nice improvements, but nothing that would make current PowerBook G4 owners want to upgrade.)

4 comments:

  1. An offset in the ASCII code table?

    I imagine there are application-specific differences, or it is some legacy of ye-olde terminals.

    Maybe it is a a form of lock-in; get people used to using it so they cannot switch. ;)

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  2. Maybe the 'Enter' key is for newbies, and the 'Return' key for the experienced!? :P

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  3. Well, I'm glad to see no one else knows either. Someone pointed out to me that PC-style keyboards often have an 'Enter' key over on the numeric keypad. Sure, but if there's a (functional) difference between that key and the PC-style 'Return' key, I don't know what that difference is either. It's just that the Daring Fireball article seemed to suggest there is a functional difference, and that Mac cognoscenti ought to know what it is.

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  4. According to the Apple's Human Interface Guideline, they are DIFFERENT. The Enter key sends the keyboard buffer to the application (think of the command-line interface). The Return send the keyboard buffer to the application but also insert a new line character (CR, ASCII #10 on Mac). Using Enter in in text editor has no effect.

    But I don't think anybody will ever notice the difference. I have been Macophile for 5 years and frankly didn't know about this.

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