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Definition - What does Control-Alt-Delete mean?

Control-Alt-Delete is a computer keyboard keystroke combination (Control, Alt and Delete) that was conceived by David Bradley, a designer of the original IBM personal computer. It is a command for IBM PC-compatible systems that can be used to restart the computer. On more recent versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control-Alt-Delete is used to call up the task manager program. Control-Alt-Del also summons administrative functions such as the “End Task” feature when a program crashes or gets stuck. On X window systems it is used to call the logout dialog box.

The Control-Alt-Delete key combination is sometimes called the three-finger salute.

Techopedia explains Control-Alt-Delete

Control-Alt-Delete is invoked by pressing the Delete key while holding the Control and Alt keys on a computer keyboard. It is used when a software program locks up and needs to be restarted, when there is a need to change a computer's password, or log on or off the computer. The original idea for implementing the Control-Alt-Delete command was to reset or restart the computer without turning it off, which is known as a soft reboot. Microsoft implemented Control-Alt-Delete to ensure that users shut down the computer properly.

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