Alt + F4

Alt + F4

Part of a series on Trolling. [View Related Entries]

Updated Apr 30, 2014 at 09:33PM EDT by Brad.

Added Aug 14, 2010 at 06:36AM EDT by richies^ghost.

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Alt+F4 is a bait and switch trolling technique used against users who lack knowledge of operating system shortcuts and features. When asked how to perform an online action (i.e. “omg how do I use colourz?!?!”) a helpful troll will offer advice in the form of “press alt+f4”--this keyboard shotcut command closes down the active window in most Windows applications, at which point the successful troll wallows in their own crapulence.

Urban Dictionary defines this process as:

shortcut key for nearly all Windows Operating Systems to Close the active window or application. Also used as an insulting tool by the 1337 or l33t people to have a bad/angry gamers, aka noob, to trick them to quit the game.

friend: dude, how do I quit this?
me: hold ‘Alt’ and press the ‘F4’ key at the top of the keyboard.


l33t: to fix the lag, hold Alt and press F4

l33t: sweet, less lag…works all the time.

The technique is likely to work on n00bs due to their lack of system commands knowledge and internet trolling experience, making alt+f4 the troll equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel:

It must be noted that the Alt+f4 command works for Unix-based systems such as KDE and GNOME graphical user interfaces, that Windows has several other commands to close a focused window (ctrl+f4, alt+space+c, ctrl+w) and that the Mac OS commands are Cmd+w (close window) and Cmd+Q (quit application), according to a Wikipedia list of shortcuts.

That meme’s process is very close, in its application, to the Delete System32 meme, though less harmful for one’s computer.


This trolling technique most likely originated on mIRC, a multiple internet relay chat program popular in the late 90s and early 00s. It is very effective here due to two major limitations of the program:

  1. No “are you sure” question before conducting a shut down
  2. Highly attractive program for n00bs and trolls alike


Google trends indicates sustained and strong levels of interest in Alt+F4:

Current Use

These days, Alt+F4 is most commonly found on online games:

Nooboligist | August 06, 2007
I like to call this video…“A Perfect Ownage” basically got this guy to alt f4 about 9-10 times trying to teach him how to “hotkey” spells. Deffintely no script here.

[58,149 views as of August 14, 2010]

The effect of Alt+F4 is however diminished by advances in Windows programming which require confirmation before executing a shut-down command on some programs:

In this instance, Ctrl+W should be used as it is similar to Alt+F4 however it closes the active browser tab only and doesn’t request confirmation. Ctrl+W is also used for trolling:


This meme will be in use for as long as the Alt+F4 command works, and trolls can interact with n00bs. This is due to the positively reinforcing lulz that occur when Alt+F4 is used.

Wikipedia on reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior due to the addition of a consequence immediately following a response. Giving (or adding) food to a dog contingent on its sitting is an example of positive reinforcement (if this results in an increase in the future behavior of the dog sitting).

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