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Here's Why Windows Users Quit With Alt+F4, Not Alt+Q

It actually makes a lot of sense.

by Matthew Braga
Dec 10 2015, 5:00pm

For decades, Windows power users have used the Alt+F4 keyboard shortcut to quickly quit an app. And for about as long, Mac users have wondered why Microsoft didn't just go with the much more obvious Alt+Q, the first letter of "Quit."

But the reason, according to "longtime Microsoft developer and semi-official Windows historian" Raymond Chen, actually makes a lot of sense.

In a video on the Microsoft Developer Network's Channel 9 blog, Chen explains that Quit is a pretty English-specific word. It's just not the same in most other languages. As such, establishing Alt+Q as a keyboard shortcut to quit an app might make sense to an English speaking user, but similarly baffle someone speaking Spanish, or with the alternate keyboard layout of a language such as French (or dvorak).

"If you're in France, the letter Q is not in the upper left hand corner of the keyboard," Chen said. "It means that If you're changing languages, not only does the letter of the hotkey change, but even if we decided that, fine, Q means quit for everybody, even in France, you still have to find the letter 'Q.'"

Alt+F4, on the other hand, never goes anywhere. It's always in the same place.

Homepage image: Jason Rogers/Flickr

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