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Keyboard Ninja: Kill Windows with the Blue Screen of Death in 3 Keystrokes

Have you ever wanted to show off your keyboard ninja skills by taking down Windows with just a couple of keystrokes? All you have to do is add one registry key, and then you can impress your friends… or use it to convince people to switch to Linux.

This isn’t a bug, it’s a “feature” in Windows that is designed to let users trigger a crash dump for testing purposes. There’s even a whole Microsoft KB article on the subject.

To enable this feature, open up regedit and then browse down to one of these keys, depending on your keyboard type:

USB Keyboard

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\kbdhid\Parameters

PS/2 Keyboard

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\i8042prt\Parameters

image

Now right-click on the right-hand pane and add a new DWORD key named CrashOnCtrlScroll, giving it a value of 1.

Reboot your computer, and when it starts back up you can trigger the Blue Screen of Death by using the following keyboard shortcut:

Hold down Right Ctrl and hit Scroll Lock twice

image

To remove this “feature” you can just delete the registry key and then restart your computer again.

Please note that following this article WILL crash your computer… really isn’t very useful, but it’s lots of fun =)

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/24/07

Comments (57)

  1. Chuma

    Doesn’t the “convince people to switch to linux” seem a little mean?

  2. The Geek

    Chuma,

    There’s a lot of Linux fans that are readers of this site… figured I’d mention that angle as well =)

  3. Tregonsee

    Interesting. I saw that message for real in an elderly Micron running XP Home whenever I ran a program for updating my Garmin GPS. Only incidence in 6 years.

  4. The Geek

    @Tregonsee,

    I was trying to write an article a while back that needed a BSOD screenshot… I couldn’t figure out how to kill Windows… I don’t think I’ve had an actual BSOD in years.

  5. stueycaster

    Fun to crash your computer?! I don’t get it.

  6. Mihai Criveti

    Don’t you think that whole “convince people to switch to Linux” seems a out of place? This is an actual feature, no need for the quotes. It may be intended for advanced users and/or developers, but it’s still a feature.

    Memory dumps are _very_ useful for debugging purposes. Even if you have little knowledge of debugging, it’s fairly easy to read the output of a simple “!analyze -v” in WinDbg or send a minidump to a skilled friend.

    Sometimes though, the system doesn’t crash, but grinds to a halt or freezes. If there is any hope of debugging, you will need a memory dump though. You can manually generate a memory dump using the CrashOnCtrlScroll PS/2 keyboard driver feature or, of course, you can use a serial console if you have that handy.

    It is generally a good idea to configure Windows to perform a full memory dump before though. See
    http://unixsadm.blogspot.com/2007/10/windows-crash-dump-and-hang-analysis.html for details.

  7. The Geek

    This was just meant as a humorous look at a feature in Windows… don’t take it so seriously guys!

  8. Mihai Criveti

    Sure, no offense meant. Just wanted to point out that while it’s a fun joke to play on friends or a neat way of getting a nice screenshot (say with VMware) it can also be very useful when your production server is freezing for no apparent reason and you’re forced to dive in and “save the day” :-).

    Most people see a BSOD as a horrible horrible thing. I see it as a wonderful feature of Windows, that protects your data from getting corrupted (how can the OS write safely to a filesystem if it’s not sure of it’s integrity for example? One reason crash dumps are done in swap). Instead of doing a BSOD, the OS could just write random corrupted data on your disk for example, and you wouldn’t like that very much. It’s also a way to obtain very useful debugging information.

    And, just one more thing: the vast majority of crashes are caused by faulty hardware (usually bad memory without ECC – a simple memtest86 will reveal that) or overheating CPUs (check sensors for CPU, GPU, system etc). A simple check of S.M.A.R.T (look at reallocs) parameters of your disk is good too. And after that, over 90% of crashes are caused by 3rd party drivers (especially those that aren’t signed or verified). A simple go with Driver Verifier and WinDbg and an update will point that out quick enough.

  9. The Geek

    Mihai,

    I didn’t take offense =)

    You are exactly correct, it’s always hardware or really bad drivers that cause a BSOD, in my experience…

  10. Lighthouse

    stueycaster. I can see when it’s fun to crash your computer.
    When you want to push something to the limit and then deduct 0.005% to run it

  11. DBekins

    You are friggin’ weird if you think everyone would just switch to linux based on his funny windows comment.

  12. stueycaster

    I’m a firm believer in running everything well within it’s limitations. Things last longer and have far fewer problems that way. I will never overclock because it makes excess heat. I drive slowly because that way I never find myself tailgating. I accelerate slowly because it uses far less gas and at best it saves only a few seconds travel time anyway. I used to play in bands and I found that the musician that always played as fast as they can annoyed the listeners.

    There’s really no need to push computers to their limits. What do you do, set up your computers side by side with your friends and have races to see which one is faster?

    Push things to their limits? I don’t get it.

  13. stlhulsey

    stuey, i bet you’re a blast at parties. I guess it was also foolish for man to land on the moon, and scale Mt. Everest. Pushing things to the limit is a basic human instinct.

  14. percusse

    Pushing the limits is OK, if it comes for free. The same stuff was going on when the 80386 80486 processors was around. Do you still think that a turbo button makes sense for a computer if it goes from 8 Mhz to 12 Mhz ? Back that time, it did…

  15. stueycaster

    Actually I am a lot of fun at parties. I’m so easy going that I can get along with anybody. When I played music for people they went nuts.

    It’s ok for people to push personal limits and stuff like that. But don’t push limits with machinery or computers. That’s good for nothing but breaking stuff.

  16. Joe Anderson

    BSODs are SOMETIMES useful, disabling them is probably a bad idea.

  17. David Andrews

    This could be useful for those who urgently need to get out of doing some work! Hey folks, my computer keeps on Blue screening!……(btw I’m joking so don’t take offence! :-)

  18. The Geek

    @David:

    That’s a great idea! I need a new computer, mine keeps crashing! =)

  19. Joel

    This is probably a silly question, -but what is a “scroll lock key”? I am unfamiliar with this nomenclature.Maybe we call it by a different name, but I don’t seem to have an ‘scroll lock’ ability.

  20. SecretFan

    I love it… the boss comes over while you’re goofing off and you don’t have time to shut stuff down… hit the bluescreen key! ;)

    You’re surfing porn when your wife/girlfriend comes over and can’t close all those windows fast enough? Use the bluescreen key!

    This is the best article ever! :)

  21. Tobin Lathrop

    It is a useful setting though not for a workstation. I have had to set that up several times as a forced a crash dump was needed for servers that had some memory leak issues.

  22. Michael

    It worked on my computer! I have a PS/2 Keyboard, and it’s a key called “i8042prt” in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\i8042prt\Parameters. CrashOnCtrlScroll value works well and I have four memory dumps! I think I can wind my classmates up by doing this when I get back to school! Everybody will find it funny!

    On my laptop, I will think I can get a USB keyboard to work, but not on my special keyboard because it’s not a PS/2 connection. It’s a Microsoft Launch Manager from Acer connection.

  23. meh

    You shouldn’t crash your computer just to hide porn or w/e, a simple bash file will take care of all your needs.

    For example, you can have it set to close the browsers instantly [this is really quick]:

    tskill iexplore /a
    tskill firefox /a

    Or you could have it shutdown:

    tsshutdn 0 /powerdown /delay:0

    Or reboot:

    tsshutdn 0 /reboot /delay:0

    Or logoff [this is really quick]:

    logoff

    Or hibernate:

    RunDll32.exe powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState

    So, as you can see, there are less destructive yet just as effective methods. You can set these as macros and execute them from the command prompt, or have the batch file as a shortcut somewhere convienent. Whatever words best for you. I should mention that the above codes work well with XP, I’m sure there may be variations with Vista.

    Also, there are ways to edit the reg with a batch file, so in this way, you can automate the advice in this article if you still wanted to crash the comp.

  24. meh

    Typo: bash = batch, words = works. Just wanted to clear that up. :]

  25. Anonymous

    Be fair – add instructions for “crashing” a Linux box the same way :)

  26. pops

    >Be fair – add instructions for “crashing” a Linux box the same way :)

  27. Anyone

    For people who are actually geeks there is a reason for this. If you have an app that stops the system from responding normally but does not actually crash the OS this can be VERY helpful in finding the cause of the problem because it forces Windows to create a crashdump log that can be investigated to see what processes are running and what function calls they are executing when the problem occurs. Get a couple dumps with the same information and you have something to point to either to your own programmers or the vendors.

  28. Chad

    I don’t think you can convince ANYONE to use Linux, it’s just not made for the regular person.

  29. guy

    Its not only a feature for crashing but can be used to switch to one machine from another when sharing a monitor

  30. bill

    so stupid…..to active a feature to show off….
    if it is a build-in one..ok…but install…reboot..bla bla..who do you think you can impress?….
    try harder next time…
    (nope i am NOT using win or anz other m$ products…)

  31. Kevin

    Sounds like fun. However, I’m no computer expert, but there’s a line there that says “the end- user manually generated the crashdump.” That could kind of tip your friend off if they actually bother reading the message. Not to mention you need time to enter the registry key and reboot while they don’t see…

  32. Tom

    Actually, in the article you say to add it to HKLM/Settings/CurrentControlSet/Services/kbhid/Parameters but in your screen shot it shows the information that is listed under HKLM/Settings/CurrentControlSet/Services/kbhid. When I add the CrashOnCtrlScoll DWORD value under the Parameters key it doesn’t work but when I put it under the kbhid key it works like a charm. Just thought I would mention that. :D

  33. The Geek

    @Tom

    There are two places that it can be set, based on which type of keyboard you have. You must have a usb keyboard, wheras I was using a machine with a ps/2 keyboard (a virtual machine, actually).

  34. Aleeve

    As soon as I saw this my first thought as: LOL
    :D Good work

  35. Andrew

    I fail to see why the heck someone would want to kill there machine?

  36. Me

    Actually I’m having this problem, how do I solve it?

  37. xpish

    Anybody know how to get this to work on XP with a USB keyboard? Seems to only work for Server 2003.

  38. Doug Gale

    Anderew said: I fail to see why the heck someone would want to kill there machine?

    It is for system developers. Say you wrote some system service or driver that complelety hangs the system. You can force a crash dump and be able to investigate what was happening at the moment that the crash dump was created (by opening the crash dump in a debugger on your dev box, and investigating it).

    Normally developers would connect a kernel debugger and be able to break in at any time, but this can be a good substitute if the issue only occurs at a customer site.

  39. Taz

    Funny – The Geek is such as home user.

  40. Aaron Moorley

    For some reason, my crappy computer that I built only keeps the screen on for about half a second and then reboots. Anyone know why?

    BTW, great article

  41. cyberghost

    This would be a great April fool joke.
    LMAO :=D

  42. RoflMike

    “Aaron Moorley
    For some reason, my crappy computer that I built only keeps the screen on for about half a second and then reboots. Anyone know why?

    BTW, great article ”

    Yes, because you have your computer to reset on a BSOD

  43. Malcolm

    Actually this is a very useful feature. When you cause the bluescreen of death a dump file is created (if Windows is configured to do so) and you will have a snapshot of what was going on when you caused the crash. i.e. loaded drivers, what’s in memory (depending on crash type) So for example if a driver is causing your system to ‘hang’ using the Ctrl+Scroll lock you can open the created dump file in Windows debugging tools and identify the culprit.

  44. Timber Wolf

    You can crash if you want to, you can you leave your OS behind… I had forgotten about this. I used it once about a year ago to get encryption keys out of memory. Is that feature available in Linux?

  45. geschenkideen fuer maenner

    I am trying to watch the world cup on my computer, but if I attach the beamer I always get a blue screen after a few minutes. This sucks. Are there any solutions to this problem?

  46. No.I.am.not.supplying.my.name

    READ THE WHOLE COMMENT! Don’t start & skip.

    This is a reason to use linux. Most users don’t know about this completely un-useful feature. All it does is create a blue screen of death. This “feature” just uses disk space for no reason. Take a look at the system files… there are two things (or more) bad about them:

    1. They’re badly named
    2. There are way to many un-necessary extras

    Also there are so many programs that can cause a very bad real crash. In wikipedia it says: “Linux does not produce a error dump screen.” Who wants a computer with this baloney? Who wants a computer to crash just because you sent an email from Australia to the US! Also if you are going to change to linux use Arch Linux.

  47. Steven Torrey

    TOM on April 20, ’08 @ 4:28 pm cites a major contradiction in your article, which you correct one minute later.

    Far, as I’m concerned sounds like someone is looking for trouble with their computer; …

    A computer memory dump might be helpful for one thing or another, which ANYONE on Jan 15, ’08 @ 8:19am made clear, but that doesn’t come clear in this essay; Looking for the BSOD for fun and games seems downright stupid; attempting a memory dumb for diagnostic purposes seems helpful.

    But learning the diagnostic tools available for the home computer is time well spent.

  48. Mirza Mesum Hossain

    Hi,

    I found this article to be very interesting. However, I would like to know that once the BSD is invoked, then it can be restored by deleting the DWORD key from the Registry. But can anyone tell me how do I get into the Registry once I see the BSD.

    Any comments would be appreciated.

    Thanks & regards,

    mIrza

  49. lyfierce

    I am a Linux user and I just think the myths about “Linux being too hard” stems from people not wanting to actually use their brains and enjoy the technology they have to the fullest extent they can. there are plenty of distro’s for new users or more commonly referred to as “noobs” out there. my first distro was ubuntu and its a wonderful introduction to the world of Linux. there are more technically required distributions out there but you dont have to be a computer genius to figure it out. it just takes a little time and effort. i am currently making a boot disk of “Backtrack Linux” which is a penetration testing distribution and is one of the best tools that i can have for becoming a penetration tester. if you start at the basics with a user friendly version.
    http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download
    you can download ubuntu there. when you finish the download burn it to a blank DVD and use it to start your computer in the boot menu you can try it out without installing it on your hard-drive. give it a try. if you don’t like it you didn’t install anything. but don’t discount something based on what you’ve heard from others. if you’re a sentient person you’ll want to get your own opinion about things instead of being spoon-fed opinions as if you were a barely sentient child.

  50. William

    Before opening this article, the summary states “Note: this one doesn’t work in Windows 7 anymore. Also, it clearly doesn’t make Windows better, but we included it because it’s lots of fun.” This is not true. I often need to crash Windows 7 for testing purposes. Also, being that this is primarily used for troubleshooting hard hangs, it does improve windows by creating a memory dump, which can be used to help diagnose the issue.

  51. Mary

    my husaband has been getting the blue screen that you all have been speaking of on his computer,we have had it in and its been worked on i dont know how many times , we did have graphics card put in and it stopped working again so we took it back they worked on it and now itll run for abit and it ll just shut down or we get the blue screen .? we dont know anything about computers thats why we are on your site and we have someone work on them for us, they arent really given us a straight answer on what keeps happening to his computer..can anyone give us some info on what to do with it..you all sound like you know alot about computers, we sure dont know anything i assure you we are the geekest youll find on here ,,lol..Thank You for your time..

  52. Ja5087

    Try Notmyfault to do it easier

  53. 13 and a Genius

    When i do this my screen goes black and my monitor stops working untill i reboot? Plz help

  54. Andrew Wykle

    I had this screen come up. Not from normal – but from a virus. It’s being fixed right now. I can’t even start it up, boy if I could, I would’ve used this while I could start it up. Because the issue happened small – first it only happened every once in a while, with just random blue screens, just only on restarting. Soon, it happened more frequently, and now on shutdowns, but I could still actually get to the login screen from the users so I could login. But now I can’t get to the login screen, and I’ve got college students fixing it.

  55. Harry

    Which key we press 2 start the recovery in dell laptops……………… plz give me answer

  56. Broax

    This is specially useful if you want to take a quick break in work… Just blame the BSOD. Also might work if you see you’re missing the deadline for something and need an excuse (weak as it may be).

  57. Anuholo

    i keep getting this on my usb keyboard key when creating dword-
    cannot create value. error writing to registry

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