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PSA for anyone wanting to buy an IBM keyboard

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I just found out that there is an alternative to having the odd key on your keyboard that brings up the same context menu as what you get from right-clicking on a mouse...

SHIFT + F10!


The very reason I neglected to keep an old IBM model M during the  one chance I had to own one (which by the way was long before I knew of its value) is that it didn't have either windows keys OR a menu key...  Sometime later, I figured out that M$ put in a shortcut for the windows key under Ctrl+Esc, but that was only for the left side. That's 1 out of 3 issues solved. Okay, I mostly use the Windows key on only one side at a time, so I'd be willing to take a 2-out-of-3 on this one and ignore the lack of the other windows key, if only I could have the menu key back.  I use the menu key several times a day, so I couldn't see myself consistently using a Model M of any kind.


I got hooked on TenKeyLess (TKL) style keyboards recently, and after becoming aware of the SSK version of the Model M by IBM, I had to know if there was perhaps a physical addition I could use to have the functions which had no reason to exist back when the M series was developed...  And then, just moments ago, I found another function hard-coded by M$ to solve this very problem-- but few people ever knew of it.

In this article, I discovered that you can use Shift + F10 to emulate the context "menu" action from typical keyboards and mouse right-clicking!


This can be a bit awkward getting used to, and some web browsers react differently depending on how they're configured-- not to mention this will take weeks or months of practice to adapt your typing behavior if you're already used to using that one key on the lower right of the keyboard like I am.  However, if you are dead-set on getting an IBM Model M keyboard and need the Windows and/or Menu keys, I think it's worth it.


Bottom line: HOW DO WE NOT KNOW THIS???  In fact, how do I not know this???

One of my biggest problems in finding this solution is that I never knew the name of that obscure key. Few people know what else to call it. All anyone knows for sure is that it does the same thing as a mouse right-click.  Then I got hints of people calling it "Menu," but searching for that people still don't know what I'm talking about!  So there you have it, internet... that button on your keyboard that performs the same right-click of a mouse is called a Context Menu key.

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If I may put a little more information forward regarding keyboard keys that may or may not exist...


A while back, I had encountered an issue with a new laptop that was missing that "Context Menu" key, which I used fairly often as it was much quicker to use than using the touchpad to use the right-click menu. At the same time I think I had enough experience in Linux to properly edit my laptop's functions enough to create a new keybind similar to the function key. I would have been happy enough to just make something simple like Alt+Space, but then this was presented to me:


I will remind any readers that this is a Linux-based fix. Windows users might be able to play around with either Autohotkey or LuaMacros (Formerly HidMacros), both talked about during LTT video "DIY 87-Key Macro Keyboard - Because he has way too many shortcuts!"


With a mixture of xmodmap* and a program called xcape, you can rebind a function to a key, but only momentarily as a long press or holding down of the same key would make it so the key could function as normal. For example, Right Alt (or as it is also called, R_Alt).


In my instance, I installed xcape and ran the code:

xcape -t 500 -e "Alt_R=Menu"

Every time I "tap" the Right Alt key, it will now, using xcape, open the Right-Click Context Menu wherever the cursor is. However, holding it for 500 milliseconds (as outlined by -t 500 ) or longer allows it to function as normally intended.


So why did you put this next to a Windows-centric post about an IBM keyboard?


Well, because it's a useful quirk for any Linux-goers out there who might see this and think, "Hmm, would I be able to do something similar with mine?" On top of that, adding a function that doesn't interfere with traditional typing too much may be more appealing to some people (can probably do something similar with Autohotkey or LuaMacros). There are many laptops, older ones mostly, but even newer laptops with spacing cuts that either relocate the Menu key to a far off place (I'm looking at you Dell Inspiron 6000...) or leave out one or several keys for space efficiency.


Just something to add in was all.



Read the Reddit post here: https://www.reddit.com/r/i3wm/comments/ad6fdx/is_it_possible_to_create_a_menu_key/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x


* The reason you need xmodmap is for the keybinds — the raw names of the keys in question. xmodmap -pke lists all keys and their functions through the current Keyboard Language. Read the Arch Wiki article for more information if you are interested.

LTT fan and hardcore hobbyist/enthusiast computer guy. More familiar with Linux than Windows.

Specs on personal PC: i3-6100 (3.7 GHz) | Asrock H170M-ITX/DL | Sapphire Dual-X HD 6970 2GB 256-bit (Discontinued) | 2x8GB GSkill DDR4 RAM | Corsair RM750 | 1TB Seagate | 120GB ADATA SSD | Logitech Server Case | More noisy fans than necessary | [Manjaro with Windows VM]

Secondary Devices: Dell Inspiron 6000 (2GB DDR2) [Debian 10 Buster]

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