The Alt key on a computer keyboard is used to change the function of other pressed keys. Thus, the Alt key is a modifier key, used in a similar fashion to the Shift key. For example, simply pressing "A" will type the letter a, but if you hold down either Alt key while pressing A, the computer will perform an "Alt-A" function, which varies from program to program. In non-US keyboard layouts, rather than a second Alt key, there is an 'Alt Gr' key to the right of the space bar. The key is located immediately to either side of the Space bar. The Alt key has come to replace the Meta key of the old MIT keyboards. In their original function, both Alt and Meta would set the high bit of the signal generated by the key to 1. However, in modern software, due to the requirement of the high bit for internationalisation, Alt no longer works in such a way. The Alt key is well known as part of the Control-Alt-Delete key combination, which in some operating systems brings up the task manager. In the X Window System, Control-Alt-Delete is known as Control-Alt-Backspace, which usually causes the X server to shut down or restart.
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