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I work on Macs for over two years and still haven't done anything useful with the "clear key" (this one).

Do you know of any useful stuff it can do? Other than with the built-in Calculator app, that one doesn't count :)

EDIT: Anything you use on regular bases.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The "clear" key is used to clear simultaneously the contents of all selected cells in Microsoft Excel. This allows the user to clear more than one cell at a time, which is what the "delete" key is limited to.

This function of the "clear" key is essential for work with spreadsheets.

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In general, its function is to clear the selection, much like pressing Delete or Forward Delete, but unlike with the Delete keys, it will not do anything without something already selected. Luckily, in the Finder, it selects the last item alphabetically, rather than "clearing" selected files and folders, which could be bad.

It functions as a normal Num Lock key when running Windows or Linux on a Mac, either through a VM or natively. This can be frustrating though, because even old Apple USB keyboards that have "Num Lock" printed as "alt" text on the Clear key don't have an indicator light for that key (though older ADB keyboards did).

A long time ago, in a Mac OS far far away, I recall occasionally coming across Mac apps that used the Clear key as a regular Num Lock key, including a very old version of Excel. I don't recall seeing any Mac apps use it in this way in recent history, perhaps not since the release of OS X (or the obsolescence of the ADB keyboards).

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+1 for the Finder tip, though useful in extremely rare circumstances :D –  frnhr Jul 30 '12 at 7:50

You can possibly use it to wake up your computer from sleep. Maybe you can use it to make the guys with wireless keyboard envy you. I already envy you a little bit ;-)

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Yes! It's verified! One CAN wake the computer with it, I just did so :D –  frnhr Jul 30 '12 at 7:44

And if you have a MacBook Pro since the NumLock has disappeared from F6 and it seems there's no alternative you may opt for the freeware KeyRemap4MacBook https://pqrs.org/macosx/keyremap4macbook/

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