Alt + F4

Alt + F4

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

Updated Mar 02, 2021 at 05:38PM EST by Matt.

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

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Alt+F4 is the Windows operating system command for quit application performed by pressing the "alt" key and the "F4" key simutaneously. Online, many use the command as 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, a supposedly helpful troll will offer advice in the form of "press alt+f4," closing the application.


Keyboard function keys date back to the 1960s but did not necessarily have standardized usages until later.[1] Microsoft released the first version of Windows on November 20th, 1985.[2] Windows historian Raymond Chen says that the reason developers used Alt F4 instead of Alt Q for quitting applications was because "Quit" is a word that's specific to English. He said:

If you're in France, the letter Q is not in the upper left hand corner of the keyboard. It means that If you're changing languages, not only does the letter of the hotkey change, but even if we decided that, fine, Q means quit for everybody, even in France, you still have to find the letter 'Q.'

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. There is No "are you sure" query before conducting a shutdown
  2. Highly attractive program for novices and trolls alike

On April 25th, 2000, mIRC user Jamyn explained how the troll works (shown below).

(idea) by Jamyn Tue Apr 25 2000 at 0:29:14 Alt F4 is a function (specifically in Windows) that seems to be a running prank on newbie computer users in general. Although its usage is prevalent in just about any location, (the workplace, home, even friend's houses), its popularity seems to stay pretty constant on IRC. The gag usually goes something along the lines of: New1RC'er: Hey, How do I get into #movies4free? It says this channel is restricted, when I try to join and I can't get in FunnyMan: Oooh. You want into the movies room. Hm. You have to know the secret code, my friend. NewIRC'er: PleezPleezPLEEZ tell me. Pleez FunnyMan:. aah, ok. you see that button "Alt" at the bottom of your keyboard? The one near the spacebar?" NewIRC'er: (excited): Yeah! FunnyMan: K. Hold that down. Then, press the F4 key. That'll unlock the hidden menu on mIRC, and then you can get in there. NewIRC'er: Hey, thanks man. I really appreciate you helping me. Lemme try that real quick. * NewIRC'er quits (Client closed connection) FunnyMan: hehe. Gets em every time. "grin In short, Alt-F4 closes the active program/window. Therefore, say you were on IRC, and it was your active (in-use) window. Press Alt-F4, and... wham: you've closed the program. People fall for it more often than you'd think.


As the internet became more readily available in households around the world, references to the prank continued to appear online. On August 27th, 2005, Urban Dictionary [3] user BryanC defined this process, "Key combination used to trick people into closing web programs."

Over time, descriptions of the prank and how-tos on how to perform it appeared online. On August 6th, 2007, YouTuber Noobologist posted the video "How to alt f4 a noob." The post received more than 138,000 views in less than 14 years (shown below).

Variations of the include several other commands to close a focused window (ctrl+f4, alt+space+c, ctrl+w) and that the Mac OS commands Cmd+w (close window) and Cmd+Q (quit application).

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

Usage of the trolling technique continued into the late 2010s, particularly on Twitch, where players recorded themselves performing the prank on other players. On January 12th, 2019, the YouTube account Top Twitch Moments uploaded a compilation video of users attempting the prank. The post received more than 5 million views in less than three years (shown below).

Various Examples

Player koondogs left the game (Disconnect by user) Game: press any button to start Me: *presses alt+f4* Game: *closes* Me: where game LAAade with mematie *Classes Online* Teacher: How can I turn up the volume? Me: Press Alt+F4 Teacher:*disconnects* Me: made with mematic
Koondogs how do you sprint alt-+f4 Plaver koondogs left the game (Disconnect by user S- ABSOLUTELY BARBARIC ALT+F4 keeping your horny ass from getting busted since Windows 95. Okay Alt F4-Fail

Search Interest

External References

[1] Tech Terms – Function Key.

[2] The Guardian – From Windows 1 to Windows 10: 29 years of Windows evolution

[3] Urban Dictionary – Alt F4

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