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Have you ever wondered what those Mac keyboard symbols mean and what they translate to? You see them on many Mac keyboards and on many shortcut lists, and they look like weird characters (⌥), shapes (⇪), and splashes on windshields (⌘). They can be quite confusing, which is why at OSXDaily.com we always try to manually write out the key ourselves. Using the name of the key is becoming the norm on newer Apple keyboards, but many pre-2011 Macs have keyboard symbols on keys, and with really old Macs, you get all the symbols without labels. Plus, you’ll find the symbols in drop-down menus in OS X, so what the hell are they in plain English? That’s what we’re going to learn, first let’s cover the basics you’ll often see in walkthroughs, menu items, and elsewhere.
⌘ is the Command key ()
⌃ is the Control key
⌥ is the Option key (alt)
⇧ is the Shift key
⇪ is the Caps Lock key
fn is the function key
Now you know, but if the symbols confuse you, don’t feel so bad about it. I’ve been using Macs since I was a little kid and the Option and Control key symbols have always baffled me so much that I forget which one they are, which is exactly why Apple is gradually moving to the labeled keys instead of symbol keys. Simple is better.
The standard keyboard symbols you’ll find on most Mac and Apple keyboards are as follows, but we’ve also got a full list below:
The above list contains the default keyboard symbols for most shortcut keys, below is a more complete list of some of the symbols that appear elsewhere in menus and the keys they refer to. Thanks to Lri for posting these secondary symbols in the comments.
Full list of keyboard symbols:⌘ is command ⌥ is option ⌃ is control ⇧ is shift ⇪ is caps lock ← is left arrow → is right arrow ↑ is up arrow ↓ is down arrow ⇥ is tab ⇤ is backtab ↩ is back ⌤ is enter ⌫ is delete ⌦ is forward delete ⇞ is page up⇟ is page down ↖ ishome↘ is end ⌧ is clear ␣ is space ⎋ is escape ⏏ is ejected
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