1.8. Keyboard Differences
Mac and PC keyboards are subtly different, too. Making the switch involves two big adjustments: Figuring out where the special
keys went (like Alt and Ctrl)and figuring out what to do with the special Macintosh keys (like
1.8.1. Where the Windows Keys Went
Here's how to find the Macintosh equivalents of familiar PC keyboard keys:
. The Macintosh offers a key labeled Control (or, on laptops, "ctrl"), but it isn't the equivalent of the PC's Ctrl key. The Mac's Control key is primarily for helping you "right-click" things, as described above.
Instead, the Macintosh equivalent of the
Ctrl key is the
key. It's right
to the Space bar,
both the cloverleaf symbol and the Apple logo. It's pronounced "command," although novices can often be
calling it the "pretzel key," "Apple key," or "clover key."
Most Windows Ctrl-key
key sequences on the Mac. The Save command is now
-S instead of Ctrl-S,
-O instead of Ctrl-O, and so on.
Mac keyboard shortcuts are listed at the right side of each open menu, just as in Windows. Unfortunately, they're represented in the menu with goofy symbols instead of their true key
. Here's your cheat sheet to the menu keyboard symbols:
represents the Shift key,
means the Option key, and
refers to the Control key.
. On most Mac keyboards, a key on the bottom row of the Macintosh keyboard is labeled both Alt and Option (at least on Macs sold in the U.S.). This is the
thing the Mac offers to the old Alt key.
In many situations, keyboard shortcuts that involve the Alt key in Windows use the Option key on the Mac. For example, in Microsoft Word, the keyboard shortcut for the Split Document Window command is
-Ctrl-S in Windows, but
-T on the Macintosh.
Still, these two keys aren't exactly the same. Whereas the Alt key's most popular function is to control the
in Windows programs, the Option key on the Mac is a "miscellaneous" key that triggers secret functions and secret
For example, when you hold down the Option key as you click the Close or Minimize button on a Macintosh window, you close or minimize
open desktop windows. And if you press the Option key while you type R, G, or 2, you get the , , and symbols in your document, respectively. (See Section 13.14.2 to find out how you can see which
into which symbols when you press Option.)
. As you probably could have guessed, there is no Windows-logo key on the Macintosh. Then again, there's no Start menu to open by pressing it, either.
Just about any USB keyboard works on the Mac, even if the keyboard was originally designed to work with a PC. Depending on the manufacturer of the keyboard, the Windows-logo key may work just like the Mac's
. On the Mac, the backspace key is labeled Delete, although it's in exactly the same place as the Windows Backspace key.
The Delete key in Windows (technically, the
key, because it deletes the character to the right of the insertion point) is a different story. On a desktop Macintosh, it's labeled with the word
On laptop Macs, this key is missing. You can still perform a forward delete, however, by pressing the regular Delete key while pressing the Fn key in the lower-left corner of the laptop keyboard.
Windows keyboards have
Enter keys: one at the right side of the alphabet keyboard, and one at the lower-right corner of the number pad. They're identical in function; pressing either one serves to "click" the OK button in a dialog box, for example.
On the Mac, the big key on the number pad still says Enter, but the key on the alphabet keyboard is labeled Return. Most of the time, their function is identicalonce again, either can "click" the OK button of a dialog box. Every now and then, though, you'll run across a Mac program where Return and Enter do different things. In Microsoft Word for Mac OS X, for example, Shift-
a line break, but Shift-
creates a page break.
See Section 8.11.1 for a summary of the Mac's text-navigation keystrokes.
1.8.2. What the Special Mac Keys Do
So much for finding Windows keys you're used to. There's another category of keys worth discussing, however: keys on the modern Macintosh keyboard that you've never seen before. For example:
. These keys give you one-touch control of your Mac's volumea great feature when, for example, you intend to use your laptop in a library or in
. (Yes, every Macintosh has built-in speakers. You're welcome to attach external ones or a pair of headphones, but you don't have to.) The three symbols here mean Quieter, Louder, and Mute, respectively. (Press Mute a second time to turn the
. This key, in the upper-right corner of the keyboard, means Eject. When you press it, your Mac's CD or DVD
opens so that you can insert or remove a disc. Or, if your Mac has a
CD or DVD drive (one that slurps in the disc rather than providing a tray for it), pressing the Eject key spits out whatever disc is in the machine.
If you have an older Mac whose keyboard doesn't have this key, the F12 key serves the same purpose.
You have to hold the Eject key down for a moment; just tapping it doesn't do anything. That's to prevent you from ejecting a disc by
and knocking over your coffee.
On a laptop, you may find several other odd-looking keys. The
keys let you make your screen dimmer and brighter. And if you're lucky enough to own one of the new PowerBooks with a backlit keyboard, the
-line keys let you control the backlight's brightness in the same fashion