The Secret History of Mac Keyboard Keys

What does the Command key symbol mean? Or the Option key symbol? Where is the Backspace key? How is Caps Lock on a Mac different than Windows? Learn a little bit about the keys on your Mac keyboard.

Comments: 12 Responses to “The Secret History of Mac Keyboard Keys”

    Scott
    3 months ago

    A good insight into a mac. I’m new to mac for about 3 weeks now. I’ve only used Windows for years and I’m trying to get use to the mac. I’m using a Macbook Air and I love it. Don’t think I’ll buy anymore windows. Your videos have been a great help. Thank you.
    Scott

    Karl
    3 months ago

    Excellent video Gary. I learned something new today. I think the escape key was smaller at one time, thus only the ESC was printed on it. I’ve been told that emergency dispatchers use all caps when typing in information to keep everything consistent, not having to press the shift key to capitalize certain words makes for faster data input.
    I grew up with and learned how to type on the Apple IIe and IIc, loved those computers.

    brad
    3 months ago

    Typing all caps is much easier with the caps lock key. All caps is much easier for me to read when I print a list. Getting rid of it would piss me off like most of the other changes Apple has made over the years. Fortunately, I don’t have many left.

    Laraine
    3 months ago

    Thanks for the info about the command key, Gary. I’ve used Macs since 1 May 1986 but I never would have thought it was supposed to represent a castle. I remember when the control key came and all I thought then was, “Oh good! Another key for me to use for making shortcuts!” I use control-option-p to open Pages, for instance, and control-p for Photoshop. Control-shift-q used to open Quicken but I use MyCheckBook now. Since I spell it cheque, I figured I might as well continue using that shortcut

    Mike
    3 months ago

    Very informative- I have a powermac G4 dual powerPC mirrored drive doors running 10.58 that I keep around to run old software that never made the jump to intel- at some point both “Delete” keys stopped working; I’ve swapped keyboards with no effect. Any ideas?

    3 months ago

    Mike: You tried two different keyboards and Delete doesn’t work on either? Could be a setting in the OS, but it is hard to say.

    Erika
    3 months ago

    I can not find an fn key on my Apple keyboard (with my old Mac mini).

    3 months ago

    Erika: Which model of keyboard do you have? Unless it is very old, it has an fn key.

    Erika
    3 months ago

    On my keyboard I have an eject key, but no fn key.
    I took a screenshot of my keyboard, how can I send you the jpg attachment for you to see…

    3 months ago

    Erika: Post/share it somewhere (iCloud, Imgur, whatever you prefer).

    Bruce
    3 months ago

    Fascinating history! Been an Apple user since IIe and never knew. As a fiction writer who is a touch-typist there are times in dialog and other areas where I use caps-lock. Touch-typing individual capitals with shift-letter is slow. Screenplay format needs all caps, too. I’m sure there are many other use-cases where the caps-lock key helps users. Macs let you disable caps-lock if you don’t need it, so I hope Apple remains inclusive of all its users, including us poor writers. Great video!

    Jason
    2 weeks ago

    Very helpful. I’ve always wanted to learn more about those keys’ history :-) One comment that I’ll make about the caps lock debate is that in Europe, last names or surnames, are often capitalized. When I lived in France for a few years it was nice to have it when I was entering lots of last names for guests of the hotel where I worked.

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