Delete key

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Not to be confused with delete character.
Delete key on PC keyboard

When struck on a computer keyboard during text or command editing, the delete key (Delete or Del, known less ambiguously as forward delete) discards the character ahead of the cursor's position, moving all following characters one position "back" towards the freed letterspace. The key appears on IBM-compatible PC keyboards labeled as 'Delete' or 'Del'. On some Mac keyboards, the key that performs the forward delete function is labeled 'del',[1] or with a special right arrow glyph enclosing an 'x' with the word del or delete above or to the left of it,[2] since the full word delete by itself is reserved for labelling the key known on other keyboards as Backspace.

Position on keyboards[edit]

In other cases, the Delete key is in its original IBM notebook position of above and to the right of the Backspace key. Many laptops add rows of smaller keys above the Function key line to add keys on a non-standard size keyboard. On this row of smaller keys, the Delete key is often the third key in from the right. On Apple Inc.'s line of laptops (e.g. the MacBook and MacBook Pro), the forward delete function can be achieved using the Fn+← Backspace key combination.


The delete key often works as a generic command to remove a selected object, such as an image embedded in a document (on Apple Keyboards, both the forward delete key and the delete (backspace) key have the same effect when pressed while an object is selected).[1]

On Unix-like systems, the delete key is usually mapped to ESC[3~ which is the VT220 escape code for the "delete character" key.[clarification needed][3]

The delete key, on many modern motherboards, also functions to open the BIOS setup screen when pressed after starting the computer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Forward Delete (Fwd Del)". Apple Human Interface Guidelines. 
  2. ^ "Image of the keyboard layout of a full-sized aluminum Apple keyboard". Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  3. ^ "9.8 Keyboard configuration". Debian Policy Manual.