A guide to understanding the Mac keyboard

The keyboard is one of the most important components of any device, be it a smartphone, PC, or Mac. In the case of Macs, besides being a necessary input device that facilitates users to type numbers, alphabets, and special characters, the keyboard also offers tons of useful shortcuts that allow users to take specific actions quickly and efficiently. According to Apple, besides using the pre-set shortcuts, Mac users can also create their own set of shortcuts for applications by entering the required commands and assigning the preferred keys. 

Even though the keyboard of PCs and Macs help users do the majority of the same things, there are numerous differences between the two, especially in terms of the keys present. This article will shed light on the different types of keys present on Mac keyboards, their functions, and how users can use their combinations to access different functionalities. Let us get started. 

Mac’s Keyboard Keys and Their Functions:

Mac’s keyboard contains numerous familiar keys that PC users will instantly recognize and others that are exclusive. Let’s take a look at some of the distinctive keys present on Mac’s keyboard:

  • Control Key – As opposed to the PC keyboard’s “Ctrl” key, the Mac keyboard features a “Control” key. Even though they share a closely-resembling name, they are very different from each other in terms of functionalities. The Mac keyboard’s “Control” key primarily helps users right-click on items. Situated next to the space bar, the command key is an integral part of the majority of the Mac keyboard shortcuts. 
  • Function Keys –  Function keys, as the name suggests, allow users to perform specific functions. There are 12 Function or F keys on a Mac keyboard in total. Like a PC keyboard, the Function keys are situated at the top of Mac’s keyboard. Each function key has a specific function. Here is a list of the system-integrated functionalities assigned to them:

F1 – Increases Brightness

F2 – Decreases Brightness

F3 – Opens Mission Control

F4 – Opens Launchpad

F5 – Decreases Brightness of Keyboard Keys

F6 – Increases Brightness of Keyboard Keys 

F7- Skips Back Audio

F8 – Pauses and Plays Audio of Media

F9 – Skips audio forward

F10 – Mutes/ Unmutes

F11 – Decreases Volume

F12 – Increases Volume

It depends on the user whether they wish the function keys to function independently or require the use of a modifier key. Besides this, you can also modify the functionalities of the F key by changing their role in shortcuts as per your preferences. For instance, if you wish to create a shortcut that involves an F key, you can conveniently do so by accessing macOS’ native keyboard settings. Besides using the native functionalities, you can also use compatible third-party utilities like Useless to practice shortcuts involving the Function keys and other ones across different applications. To know more about using the F keys on Mac, visit https://setapp.com/how-to/mac-function-keys.

  • Option Keys – A Mac keyboard features two “Option” keys, each located on different sides of the spacebar. Like the F keys, Option keys are also extensively used by Mac users to implement keyboard shortcuts. The keys are also used to trigger numerous other functions and insert different types of special characters. 
  • Enter Key – Technically, there are two “Enter: keys present on a full-sized Mac keyboard. However, even though the big key on a Mac keyboard’s number pad reads “Enter”, the Enter key on the alphabet section is called “Return”. Both of them have the same function, i.e., to click “Ok” on any dialog box or confirm an action. However, there are instances in different applications where both the keys perform different functions.

Useful Mac Keyboard Shortcuts:

macOS offers tons of keyboard shortcuts that facilitate users to perform specific actions quickly. Using Mac keyboard shortcuts is also a great way of enhancing productivity. Here are some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts every Mac user should implement in their daily workflow:

Command + X – Cut the selected text and copy it to the clipboard for pasting it wherever required. 

Command + V – Paste the clipboard’s content wherever required. 

Control + Command + F – Enable the full-screen mode of any application that supports the feature. 

Command + Shift + N – Instantly create a new folder in macOS’s native Finder utility. 

Option + Command + L – Navigate to the Download folder instantly. 

Shift + Command + U – Quickly open macOS’ native Utilities folder. 

Option + Shift + Command + Delete – Permanently delete all the files present on the Trash without any confirmation dialog.

Option + Command + D – Display or Hide Your Mac’s Dock Quickly. 

Command + N – Create and open a new Finder window. 

Besides these, tons of other keyboard shortcuts are available for Mac users. 

The Mac’s keyboard holds a lot of potentials and offers tons of useful functionalities to Mac users. However, most of the users do not know about all the keyboard’s features, which restricts them from fully utilizing the keyboard’s capabilities. By following the detailed guide above, you can use your Mac’s keyboard more efficiently and productively.