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The proper shortcuts can turn your keyboard from a writing tool into a command center for your computer. For Apple users, the proprietary keys can be daunting at first, but they offer a host of great shortcuts to make your workday easier.

Video walkthrough

There are the old standards, such as cut and paste, but you can take it so much further. This key combination will allow you to cycle through open applications. Start by holding down the "command" key and pressing "tab" to cycle through applications.

OS X Basics: Using a Windows Keyboard With a Mac

Each time you press tab, it will switch to the next application in line. This shortcut simply opens the spotlight search and moves your cursor into the search bar. This is a great tool to help you quickly get to a buried file or folder. If you use multiple displays this will be especially helpful, as this combination immediately puts all displays to sleep. When you have a finder window open, use this shortcut to open a direct line to a specific folder. Simply put the folder path in the space the appears and it will take you directly to the folder. By pressing "command" and the left bracket [ you can move to the previous folder.

By pressing "command" and the right bracket ] you can move to the next folder. This shortcut is a life-saver for anyone who regularly works in Safari. This is the shortcut for "Paste and Match Style," which basically means you can copy and paste something without its previous formatting.

What’s the better way to use PC Keyboard on macOS?

If you need to quickly take a screenshot of your full screen, this shortcut will do that, and save it as a file on your desktop. If you want to screenshot a selection from your screen, this shortcut will give you the option to select what you want in a box and save it as a file on your desktop. Use this shortcut to find all misspelled words in a given document.

By holding command and continuously hitting the semicolon ; it will cycle through the misspelled words.

Hide the windows of the application that is currently running. While fairly common, this shortcut is an important one. Use this to "undo" the previous action. This shortcut operates as a "redo" functionality to put back the last change that was undone with an "undo" function. While working in text, use the command key with one of the arrow keys to move the cursor to different parts of a document. Using command with the left arrow key will move it to the beginning of the current line, while using it with the right arrow key will move it to the end of the current line.


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  • Testing the “Sleep” shortcut.

Using it with the up arrow will move it to the beginning of the document, while the down arrow will move it to the end of the document. For those who may have moved from a PC to a Mac, this shortcut will operate like the delete key on a Windows PC, deleting the character in front of your cursor. In the currently frontrunning application, using this shortcut will activate the next window in line in that application. Once you have selected a file or folder, use this shortcut to quickly get the information on the file or folder that is selected.

Mapping Windows keys to Apple keyboards

This shortcut opens a folder in a separate window, while simultaneously closing the current window. Likewise, the Windows keyboard's Alt key is where you expect to find the Mac's Command key. If you're used to using the modifier keys from your old Mac keyboard, you're likely to run into trouble for a while as you relearn the key locations. Instead of having to relearn key locations, use the Keyboard preference pane in System Preferences to reassign the modifier keys, allowing you to keep the fingering skills you already possess.

Windows Keyboard Equivalents for the Mac's Special Keys

In the System Preferences window that opens, select the Keyboard preference pane. Use the pop-up menu next to the Option and Command keys to select the action you wish the modifier keys to perform. In this example, you want the Option key the Alt key on a Windows keyboard to execute the Command action, and the Command key the Windows key on a Windows keyboard to perform the Option action.

Also, if things get a bit mixed up, you can just click the Restore Defaults button to put everything back the way it was. With the modifier keys remapped, you shouldn't have any problems using any Windows keyboard with your Mac. People new to the Mac but proficient using keyboard shortcuts to speed up their workflow may be a little taken aback by the notation used in the Mac's menu system to indicate when a keyboard shortcut is available.

If a keyboard shortcut is available for a menu item, the shortcut will be displayed next to the menu item using the following notation:. Share Pin Email.

About the Author

Tom Nelson has written hundreds of articles, tutorials, and reviews for Other World Computing and About. He is the president of Coyote Moon, Inc. Click the Modifier Keys button.