Explaining Mac Keyboard Modifiers: A Complete Guide!

apple keyboard

There is no doubt that Mac’s keyboard modifiers can be perplexing at first, regardless of whether you are new to Mac or have been an Apple fan for some time. Do not be alarmed; once you get the hang of them, they are rather simple to comprehend. For more information about Mac keyboard shortcuts and how to utilize them, continue reading.

How Do Mac Keyboard Modifiers Work?

If you use a MacBook or a Mac keyboard, you’ve probably encountered a few symbols you didn’t know existed. The most frequent modifier keys that may be found on any Mac keyboard are shown below. Along with other keys, you press and hold them to change the function or use a keyboard shortcut.

apple keyboard

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Command () or Cmd

One of the most popular modifiers on a Mac is the command key. You must press the Command, or Cmd, key in order to use numerous keyboard shortcuts.

The Command or Cmd key is often located on the left and right sides of the space bar. If the word Command or Cmd isn’t present, you might see its icon (), which resembles a butterfly or a cloverleaf.

Shift (⇧)

The Shift key is most likely something you are familiar with if you previously used a Windows computer. The word “shift” won’t be on your keyboard. Instead, you’ll see its icon, which is an up arrow’s outline ().

There are two Shift keys on your Mac keyboard. One can be found in each keyboard corner. The Shift key should be immediately adjacent to the Caps Lock key on the left side. Above the arrow keys on the right side is the other key.

Alt or Option ()

You should also be familiar with the Option, or Alt, key because it can be used for a variety of shortcuts and functions. This modifier can be found on either the left or right side of the Command keys on your keyboard, which has it on both sides.

Depending on your keyboard, the letters Option or Alt may be visible. If not, there’s a chance you’ll notice its somewhat ambiguous icon (). Some claim it resembles a switch, while more imaginative people claim it resembles railroad tracks.

apple keyboard

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Ctrl or Control

The Control, or Ctrl, the key is another frequently used key for Windows users. This modifier, which can be found on the left side of your keyboard between the Option and Function keys, is undoubtedly already recognizable to you. The name Control or Ctrl will likely be associated with it, or you may see its icon, which resembles the top of an upward-pointing arrow ().

() Caps Lock

The Caps Lock key is rather self-explanatory; while the light is on, you may write in all caps. It is located above the Shift key on the left side of your keyboard.

You need to seek for the icon that resembles the form of an upward arrow with a little rectangle at the bottom () because it’s unlikely that you will notice the words, Caps Lock, on your keyboard.

Function (fn)

One of the modifiers that lack its own icon is the function key. On your keyboard, it should be near the letters fn, though you might also see the word “function” there. The final key is located in the bottom-left corner. It ought to be beneath the Shift key and to the left of your Control key.

Escape (ESC)

Funny enough, the Escape key doesn’t appear on every Mac keyboard. Your Escape key may be located in your Touch Bar if you’re using a MacBook Pro manufactured between 2016 and 2019. Nevertheless, the letters Escape or Esc are located in the upper-left corner of your keyboard.

Select Right ().

The Tab Right key is quite obvious to find. The key is located directly above Caps Lock on the left side of your keyboard, and its icon is an arrow heading right with a straight line next to it.

Learn the Keyboard

Even if it could take you some time to get used to them all, learning the modifiers and symbols on the Mac keyboard might change your life. Just keep in mind that practice makes perfect, and you can always print out your own list of the best Mac keyboard shortcuts.


Kimberly is a freelance writer with a love of writing and traveling. She has been writing for most of her life and has been published in various magazines and online publications. She writes about entertainment, technology, and lifestyle-related topics at Gadgetgrapevine.com. Kimberly is always looking for new writing opportunities and loves learning about new cultures and experiences.

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