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Keyboard 101: What Do the Keyboard Symbols Mean on a Mac?

It’s no secret that Mac computers are some of the most popular devices in the entire world. You might have even noticed that every other person you encounter while walking around your city happens to have an iPhone.  To use a Mac computer as effectively as possible, though, you need to understand the Mac keyboard symbols. Not quite familiar with them yet?  Let’s explore what you should keep in mind about the most important keyboard simple functions.

The Command Key ⌘

The command key is one of the most useful on the entire keyboard.  It is primarily used in combination with other keys in order to perform certain functions. To elaborate, you might use command + C to copy a large amount of text after you have selected it. To select that text more easily, you can use command + A.  Of course, you can also paste all of the text you have copied with command + V. These are the most basic functions of the command key, and there are many that are more involved. Its utility does not stop there, however.  Virtually every application has its own command key mapping. This means that there are shortcut commands you can use via the command key that differ based on the program you are working with. By mastering available shortcuts, you will be able to significantly improve your workflow.  This is an essential task for many types of professionals, such as software engineers and graphic designers.

The Shift Key ⇧

In general, the shift key will be used to capitalize letters while you type.  Pressing shift and then a letter key will cause your computer to print the capital version of that letter instead of lowercase. Without the shift key, people wouldn’t be able to type grammatically correct sentences.  Shift is also used in a similar way to command under some circumstances. By holding shift and then pressing one of the numeric keys, you will get a different symbol instead of a number. For instance, holding shift and then pressing the 1 key will print an exclamation point.  As such, this keyboard symbol is just as important as the command key.

The Option Key ⌥

Out of the Mac keyboard symbols available, this one isn’t used quite as much as the former two.  However, the option key has its own set of useful functions. The option key can be thought of as an additional command key when performing more complex shortcuts.  As previously mentioned, many applications offer users the opportunity to use a large number of different shortcuts. More often than not, though, more shortcuts will be available than the number of basic keys on your keyboard.  So, the option key can be used as an additional key within a shortcut command sequence.

Happen to be wondering more about how you can type special symbols on your Mac computer? You can check out this resource to learn more about typing the copyright symbol on Mac and others that you might find useful in the future.

The Control Key ^

On a Windows computer, the control key is used in a similar manner to the command key on a Mac device.  The control key on a Mac device, though, is used to help you complete alternative functions. For example, holding the control key while you click something will cause the right-click menu to appear. It can also be used with other keys on your device in order to perform unique tasks that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do by just using your keyboard.  One of the most common is the combination of the command key, the control key, and the power button. This will force your Mac computer to restart on its own. Since the control key is used for performing powerful commands, it’s best that you research possible uses for it before experimenting on their own.  Otherwise, you may end up changing a setting that you don’t know how to switch back. Similarly, you could restart your device before you have saved your progress on certain projects.

The Function Key Fn

At the top of your computer will be a row of F keys. These range from F1 all the way to F12. However, these keys have default functions in the form of hardware-based commands.  To clarify, these keys allow you to adjust the brightness of your screen and adjust the volume of your speakers. By holding the function key, you can change the task that the F keys perform.  This gives you a greater level of flexibility when using the device.

The Return Key ↵

On a Mac computer, this key is what would be known as the Enter key on a Windows computer. More often than not, it is used to confirm a command, such as clicking a button on a browser window.  It can also be used to insert a line break when formatting text. The return key is a convenient way to navigate through menus, type emails, etc. It’s also typically the default “ok” button in many different applications.

Understanding Mac Keyboard Symbols Is Essential

Otherwise, you won’t be able to use your device to the fullest extent. For those who frequently work on these computers, having a better understanding of the keyboard symbols can easily make you more productive.  Be sure that you keep this in mind when moving forward. Looking for more tips that can help you out later on? Check out the rest of our blog for plenty of more useful information.

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