Silly Question, Difference between Return and Enter

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by swiftaw, May 17, 2005.

  1. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I know this might be a silly question, but what is the difference between the Return key and the Enter key in terms of their usage, they both seem to do the same thing to me.
  2. tech4all macrumors 68040


    Jun 13, 2004
    As far as I know, "return" is only on Apple's keyboards while "enter" is on PC keyboards. Sorta like "alt" and "option", "control" and "command".

    Other than that, I'm not sure. Be interesting if there was an actual difference though.
  3. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    I think that some apps take advantage of the different buttons. Example? I'm pretty sure in Excel, Return goes to the next line whilst Enter tabs along but that might just be a setting. For all intensive purposes though, they're pretty much the same.

    And tech4all, my iBook has a Return key with Enter as an option when I press the fn key, implying that they're not necessarily different terms for the same button.
  4. swiftaw thread starter macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    As does my powerbook, it has a Return key AND an enter key, and Fn+Return is also enter.
  5. Daveway macrumors 68040


    Jul 10, 2004
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    In some apps "enter" is used to confirm and action, pressing return will not do anyting.
  6. stridey macrumors 65816


    Jan 21, 2005
    Massachusetts, Connecticut
    In many word processors, return is line-break, and enter is page-break. Return is by far the dominant of the two, and corresponds directly to windows' "enter" key.
  7. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    I have always though of them as one and the same. My Power Mac keyboard just has a return key. Just checked our G3 iBook it has return in bold and then above enter.
  8. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    TiBook has both

    I have a 400 Mhz TiBook that has both the enter key (down by the space bar) and the return key.

    I have noticed that they play different rolls in iTunes. Using the arrow keys to navigate a song list, hitting the enter key will start the song that is selected while hitting the ruturn key will spike the song name to be changed. (or is the other way around?)...
  9. Balin64 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2002
    In a Mauve Dream

    The RETURN key is a remnant from typewriters. On manual machines, teh "return" action eas you actually shifting the lever and drawing the carrier back to start a new line: normally, there was a bell that warned you when you had to return.

    Later, this action was mechanized, with a return button. Imagine how happy that made secretaries! I believe the first QWERTY computer keyboards had to be very similar as typewriters: but, there were computer-specific commands that relied on "Enter." As in, when data was entered, at the end of teh "session" if you will, it was logical to hit an "enter" key.

    So, I think that is why both coexist today.

    There may not be much difference for most of us, but in MS Word I ALWAYS use enter; if you don't, placing taht document into inDesign can be a nightmare.

    Anyway, that's how I see it. :)

    PS: I need to change my avatar.
  10. kiwi-in-uk macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2004
    Yep - nearly.
    From what I recall, on early terminals the "enter" key transmitted data that had been captured by the terminal.
    In other words "Enter" was used on page mode terminals (eg IBM 3270) to send the data that had been entered on a form. Other terminals used a character mode interface (eg DEC VT100 if my memory serves me correctly) and used "return" to indicate end of data entry.

    The two functions compare quite nicely to the two functions on this "Reply to Thread" form. The "return" key inserts a carriage return, whereas the "Submit reply" button behaves the same way as the "Enter" key on the old terminals. (Hope that makes sense).
  11. Lyle macrumors 68000


    Jun 11, 2003
    Madison, Alabama
    Thank goodness that (for the most part) we've abandoned typewriters for computer software that can actually check what we've typed for spelling and grammatical errors.
  12. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    Return -- shortened form of 'Carriage return', as has already been mentioned is a throwback from mechanical typrewriters; to return the cursor to the start of the line below. It still performs this function admirably on many UNIX workstations, and was for me surprisingly intuitive to use.

    Still, as to why I have an enter key on my tiny PB keyboard, and no forward delete... the mind boggles.
  13. Coolnat2004 macrumors 6502


    Jan 12, 2005
    To forward delete press fn+delete. ;)
  14. Furrybeagle macrumors 6502


    Sep 13, 2004
    Us Apple users have F13, F14, F15, but no "Print Scrn/SysRq," "Scroll Lock" (i could never figure out what it was supposed to do), and "Pause/Break." And then instead of "Insert" we get "Help." And then we have this "Clear" key, but no Context Menu key. And an Apple/Command instead of Start Key. And an = key on the keypad. Except on the laptop. We don't get F13, F14, or F15, or clear, or help, or the standalone = key. What an outrage :p :D

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