How Mac Keyboard Shortcuts Differ From Those on a PC

If you’re coming from a windows environment, you may notice a few differences when using the Mac keyboard shortcuts. These functions increase productivity when dealing with Mac applications.

Since the release of the M1 apple chip, apple products expect to have increased sales in 2021. If you decide to buy a Macbook, understanding the mac keyboard special characters will help your workflow. This short guide will give you insight into how Mac keyboard shortcuts differ from Windows shortcuts.

Computer Keyboard Keys

This section will chart the computer keyboard keys and their functions. On a typical Mac keyboard seen on newer Macs, are the special command, fn, and option keys in the lower left-hand corner. These keys are located next to the space bar on either side.

The primary one on a Mac is the command key and you also have your control key next to this command function. On a Windows computer, the primary key was known as the control key. This key would be used to control most functions in windows.

This control key doesn’t work in the same way on Mac keyboards. The key that maps directly is the command key. There are many macOS keyboard shortcuts added to the latest operating system.

For example, in Windows, if you would want to copy text, you would use the control C keys. On Mac, you wouldn’t use control C keys but rather you would use command C.

You can see this easily by using the dropdown menu on the top of a Mac. The user should select the Edit dropdown menu. In this menu, you can see the functions Cut, Copy, and Paste.

These functions also have a small shortcut listed on the right of the dropdown menu. This can be a quick way to refresh your memory of what the shortcuts are when you’re on your home screen.

You’ll notice a little helix-type of symbol next to the shortcuts. This is the same symbol as the command key symbol. So instead of control on Windows we have:

  • Command X – Cut
  • Command C – Copy
  • Command V – Paste
  • Command A – Select All

Another more direct kind of mapping from Windows is the option key or Alt key. The option key on certain Macs includes the actual Alt lettering on the key function at the top.

So, anything you did with the alt key on Windows most likely works with the option key on Mac. There’s no second key like the confusion seen with the control key.

If you again look at the keyboard shortcuts in the Finder panel, you’ll see more shortcut options. For example, if you see the Hide Finder option you’ll see an additional option called Hide Others.

This function requires the Command key, plus the H key pressed along with the option key.

  • Hide Finder – Command H
  • Hide Others – Options Command H

The Hide Others selection lists the options symbol as well as the command symbol.

Another difference is a key known as the delete key. The delete key on a Mac is the same as the backspace key on a Windows keyboard. These two keys are placed in the same position.

Although some older Macs call it the backspace key. The newer macs are known to have “delete” on the delete key.

Finder and Files

In the finder window, you can highlight files individually or as a group. There are many different ways to handle files in Mac as opposed to Windows.

One example to note is to rename an item you can press F2 on Windows. But, on Mac you simply select the file, so it is highlighted, and press the return key. The return key will instantly select the title of the file, allowing for renaming.

The arrow keys will also allow you to maneuver around the title for revisions. If we hit the enter key with the file selected, it will open a file. Of course, you can double-click it on the mouse too.

To get information on the file properties or codec, you must first highlight the file. After highlighting you can press Command-I. You can see this shortcut in the Finder’s window under the file dropdown menu, called Get Info.

To make a copy of a file on Windows, you would usually press Control. But, on Mac, you can press the option key and drag the file with your mouse.

So the following file related commands include:

  • Return – Selects a File
  • Arrow Keys – Moves Around Title
  • Return While Selected – Opens File
  • Command I – Properties
  • Option – Copies File

To cycle through between different tabs press Command and Tab. This application switcher is similar to Windows.

To quit an Application, you can press command and Q. This is a simpler version of the Alt and F4 keys on Windows computers.

Newer Macs now contain trackpads and a laser based mouse that can replicate Windows functions. A right click on a windows based computer can open up the context menu.

On Macs, a single click while holding the control key can open up the context menu for you. This function works not only on finders but inside of different applications as well. This is an easy way to streamline context functions.

When applications are struggling to close on Windows, the Control-Alt-Delete keys were used to bring up the task manager. On Macs, it’s a completely different set of keys. The Command, Option, and Escape keys are used to bring up the force quit window.

Once this window is opened, you can select a running application and close the Window. If you press the force quit option, the window or application selected will close.

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

These common mapping functions will streamline your use of the Mac keyboard shortcuts. These quick shortcuts will soon increase productivity in your day to day workflow.

After a bit of practice, you will become more familiar with the computer keyboard keys and their functions. Did you find these tips useful? If you want more tips on how to handle your Macbook be sure to check out the tech section of our blog!