Where is Pause/Break on my laptop?
Where is Pause/Break on my laptop?

Discover the history, functionality, and significance of the often-overlooked pause break button on laptops.

The pause/break button, a relic from the days of early computing, remains a mystery to many. A lot of modern keyboard layouts have eliminated the key entirely – leading to people who need it to ask: where is the pause break button on my computer?

Compact and notebook keyboards often do not have a dedicated Pause/Break key. Instead the different manufacturers have created different keyboard combinations to substitute. Here’s the most common combinations:

Substitutes for Break:

  • Ctrl+Fn+F11 or Fn+B or Fn+Ctrl+B on Lenovo laptops.
  • Ctrl+Fn+B or Fn+B or Ctrl+Fn+S on Dell laptops.
  • Fn+Esc on Samsung.
  • Ctrl+Fn+Shift or Fn+R on HP laptops.
  • Fn+Ctrl+B on certain Logitech (LOGI) keyboards.

Substitutes for Pause:

  • Fn+P or Fn+Ctrl+P or Fn+Alt+P on certain Lenovo laptops.
  • Fn+B on certain Dell laptops.
  • Fn+Shift or Fn+W on HP laptops.

For some Dell laptops, without a Break key, press the Alt+Space and select “Interrupt”.

pause break button on older laptop

What Is the Pause/Break Key?

A standard Windows keyboard typically boasts 104 keys, though the exact number might vary depending on the manufacturer. While most of us are familiar with the alphabetic keys, number keys, and function keys, there are some that remain largely untouched. The Pause/Break key is one such key.

The Pause function, often combined with the Break function on modern keyboards, serves various purposes. It can halt commands, games, or other operations. Additionally, during the BIOS boot-up process, it can pause many computers, allowing users to carefully read the BIOS POST message. A handy shortcut to remember: pressing the Windows key in conjunction with the Pause/Break key opens the System properties window.

The Evolution of Laptop Keyboards

Laptop keyboards have undergone significant transformations over the years. From bulky typewriters to sleek, minimalist designs, the journey has been nothing short of fascinating.

  • From Typewriters to Modern Laptops The genesis of the pause break button can be traced back to typewriters. As technology evolved, so did the keyboard, adapting to the needs of the user and the capabilities of the machine.
  • The Legacy of the Pause Break Button While many keys have been phased out or replaced, the pause break button has stood the test of time, albeit with a reduced role.

Locating the Pause/Break Key

On Standard Keyboards:

On most contemporary keyboards, the Pause/Break key is situated near the top-right corner. It’s common to see “Break” labeled beneath “Pause,” sometimes separated by a line.

On Laptop Keyboards:

For laptop users, the Pause key is typically found adjacent to the Backspace key. Some manufacturers integrate it as part of another key, leading to the Pause and Break functions being separated. In such instances, to utilize it, you might need to press the Fn key in conjunction with the Pause/Break key. If you’re looking to resume after pausing a program, simply hit the Enter key. The location of this elusive button varies across brands and models. However, there are commonalities that can help you spot it.

  • Common Locations on Different Brands Typically found in the top-right corner, it might be labeled as “Pause” or “Break,” or sometimes a combination of both.
  • Why Some Laptops Don’t Have a Pause Break Button With the advent of compact designs, some manufacturers have opted to remove or integrate the button with other keys, often to save space.

Alternative Options: Using the On-Screen Keyboard

Windows OS comes with a built-in On-Screen Keyboard. To access it:

  1. Press Win + R to open the Run window.
  2. Type “osk” and click OK.
  3. For the Pause function, simply click on it. For the Break function, hold Ctrl or Fn and click Pause.

If neither of the above solutions appeals to you, consider replacing your current keyboard. Many keyboards available for purchase come equipped with the Pause/Break key.

Functions of the Pause Break Button

Though its prominence has diminished, the pause break button still serves specific functions.

  • Pausing Programs: A Historical Perspective In the early days of computing, this button played a crucial role in pausing running programs or interrupting processes.
  • Modern Uses and Shortcuts Today, it’s often used in conjunction with other keys to perform specific tasks, especially in programming and IT fields.

Alternatives to the Pause Break Button

If your laptop lacks this button, fret not! There are alternatives available.

  • Key Combinations for Different OS Depending on your operating system, combinations like “Ctrl + Fn” can mimic the pause break function.
  • External Software Solutions Several software tools can remap your keys, allowing you to assign the pause break function to another key.

The Pause Break Button in Gaming

Gamers, too, have found uses for this seemingly obsolete button.

  • How Gamers Use the Pause Break In some games, it’s used to pause or access in-game menus, providing a quick respite from the action.
  • Popular Games that Utilize the Button Titles like “Civilization” and “Age of Empires” have integrated the pause break button into their gameplay mechanics.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Like all keys, the pause break button requires care and attention.

  • Cleaning the Pause Break Button Regular cleaning ensures its longevity and functionality. Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove dust and debris.
  • What to Do if Your Button Stops Working If you encounter issues, consider checking the key’s physical condition or your laptop’s software settings.

The Future of the Pause Break Button

As technology advances, the fate of the pause break button hangs in the balance.

  • Will It Stay or Fade Away? With evolving keyboard designs, its future remains uncertain. However, its legacy will always be a testament to the history of computing.
  • Innovations in Keyboard Design As manufacturers experiment with new designs, only time will tell if the pause break button will find a place in future iterations.


Traditionally, the Pause/Break key was located near the top-right corner of your keyboard. But with it eliminated from a lot of new layouts you have to use alternate key combinations to get to it. On this page you’ll discover several of the key combinations that are known.

Even though this key is rarely used, when it is in fact important to a program it’s important to know how to access it. The key itself carries with it a rich history and a legacy that resonates with the evolution of computing. While its future may be uncertain, its past is a testament to its importance in the world of keyboards.

The Pause/Break key, while not frequently used in everyday computing, retains its utility. Whether you’re troubleshooting, accessing system properties, or simply curious about this often-overlooked key, it’s a valuable asset to understand and utilize.


  • Why was the pause break button introduced? Originally, it was used to pause or halt running processes on computers.
  • Can I remap the pause break button? Yes, various software tools allow you to assign its function to another key.
  • Is the pause break button essential for modern computing? While not crucial, it still holds significance in specific fields and applications.
  • Do all laptops come with a pause break button? No, some modern designs have omitted or integrated it with other keys.
  • How do I locate the pause break button on my laptop? Typically, it’s found in the top-right corner, labeled as “Pause” or “Break.”
  • What can I do if my pause break button is not working? Check for physical damage or software issues. If needed, consult your laptop’s manual or seek professional help.
  • What does the Pause/Break key do?
    It can halt commands, games, or other operations. During the BIOS boot-up, it can pause many computers, allowing users to read the BIOS POST message.
  • My laptop doesn’t have a Pause/Break key. How can I use its function?
    Depending on your laptop brand, there are alternative key combinations. Additionally, you can use the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows.
  • Can I buy a keyboard with a dedicated Pause/Break key?
    Yes, many keyboards available online, such as on Amazon, come with the Pause/Break key.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at GadgetMates.com.  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at ericchan@gadgetmates.com if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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