How is the background lighting different from the key lighting?

Keyboard backlight

A21p illuminated by the ThinkLight


The ThinkLight is the keyboard lighting of the ThinkPads and is integrated in many ThinkPads since the i-series. The keyboard is illuminated by means of an LED above the display. It is switched on and off with the key combination + . Due to their favorable arrangement on the keyboard (left front + right rear key) they are easy to find in the dark, which is probably the main reason for the positioning of the FN key on the far left. The ThinkLight can be activated independently of the display operation or the operating system.


From generation T430, backlit keyboards were also available. The backlight was operated in alternation with the ThinkLight by the new combination FN + space bar. The FN key is easy to find because it is on the outside, and the space bar is also easy to find. The advantage of this new combination is that you can now switch on the ThinkLight or Backlight with one hand. Backlit and ThinkLight can be activated independently of the display operation or the operating system.

Fn-spacebar switches each time you press it:

ThinkLight - Backlit - ThinkLight + Backlit - all off

From generation T440 the ThinkLight was omitted. Instead, pressing the Fn-Space key combination switched the backlit to different brightness levels:

weak brightness - strong brightness - off


  • If the key combination Fn-Space does not work, it may be because the left Ctrl key has been swapped with the Fn key in the UEFI. In this case press the key combination Ctrl-Spacebar.
  • If only the key outlines are visible on backlit keyboards, but not the characters on the keys, then the keyboard has been provided with key stickers. This often occurs when buying "refurbished" equipment used and leasing returns from specialized dealers. Here, foreign-language keyboards are relabeled to the German keyboard layout.

ThinkLight colors

Most ThinkPads have a white ThinkLight, but some have other colors (yellowish-orange or bluish). There are also ThinkPads that do not have a ThinkLight, such as the X100e, R40e and other models with the suffix "e" as well as the L and SL series and some models of the E series.

Color of the ThinkLights (list incomplete):

A series R series T series X series Z series E / S series W series
yellowish R50, R51, R52, R60, R61 15.4 ", R500X40, X41Z60t, Z61m, Z61t
bluish R40T61
White: A20, A21, A22, A30, A31R30, R400, R61 14.1 " T23, T40, T41, T42, T43, T60, T400, T400s, T500, T410, T410s, T510, T420, T420s, T520, T430, T430s, T430u, T530X20, X21, X30, X31, X32, X60, X61, X200, X201, X220, X230E220s, E420s, S430W500, W510, W520, W530

The ThinkLight can also be controlled by the software, e.g. flashing on incoming email (for Outlook: Thinkvantage) or directly at the push of a button (e.g. ACPI plug-in for NHC or similar).

Applications for the ThinkLight

The hotkey features (e.g. 3.51.x) are required for applications, among others. The virtfn_0.dll file must exist under C: \ Program Files \ Lenovo \ HOTKEY. Newer Hotkey Features versions no longer contain this DLL.

Applications for backlit keyboards

For new ThinkPad generations without ThinkLight, but with a backlit keyboard:

ThinkLight mods