Geek Trivia

A Keyboard Shortcut Designed To Hide Your Current Activity Is Known As What?

An Escape Hatch
A Disco Drop
A Boss Key
A Panic Button
A Non-Functioning Gargoyle Is Known As What?

Answer: A Boss Key

A boss key is a simple keyboard shortcut, often a single key such as F10 or Scroll Lock, included in some applications or existing as a separate helper application altogether, that allows a user to rapidly conceal or exit a program that is not work appropriate.

While many modern applications—usually games or other typically unproductive applications—come with a custom boss key, prior to the 1980s, the practice was virtually unknown. Some of the first programs to include a boss key were the games from Friendlyware, an early 1980s software company. While playing their games, users could press the F10 key to swap out the game screen with an ASCII bar graph interface with generic “Productivity” and “Time” labels on it.

Since then, the boss key has evolved and now computers can be configured to switch to a legitimate application, minimize and lock the offending application, flip to an alternate desktop, and perform other more sophisticated tasks. It’s even possible to purchase a peripheral foot pedal so that the triggering of the boss key can be concealed under the desk without any tell-tale leap to the keyboard to initiate the sequence.

Image courtesy of the Ministry of Defense/Wikimedia.