Using a PC Keyboard with OSX (Command Key Switch-er-oo)

I recently started using a Macbook Air as my full time computer, so I needed to hook up a keyboard and mouse to it. Automatically, OSX assigns the “Windows” key on the keyboard to be the “Command” key in OSX, which will drive you insane.

After doing a lot of digging, I realized there is a very easy solution to this built right into the Keyboard settings section in OSX System Preferences.

system-preference_upload

1.  Go to System Preferences > Keyboard

keyboard-settings_upload

2.  Hit the “Modifier Keys” button

switch-settings_upload

3.  Select your USB keyboard from the drop-down menu (there should be two keyboards listed), make sure to not change the built-in keyboard settings.

4.  I found that turning my keyboard’s CTRL key to the Command key made it intuitive for me to CTRL-C and CTRL-V and perform the other command options.

5.  Since you do need to sometimes access the CTRL key in OSX, I made the function of the “Windows Key” (Command Key) on the external keyboard map to the CTRL key in OSX.

For reference, this is the “Windows” key on a PC keyboard:

windows-key

Hope this helps!

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  • Show Comments (7)

  • Alex Swope

    This was exactly what I was looking for! So glad when I am working at home with my cheap-o windows keyboard that I don’t have to relearn all my muscle memory shortcuts. You just saved my brain a lot of work!

  • André Lademann

    Wohoo, thank you!

  • RJK

    Hi,
    Firstly, thanks for the tip. But just one problem, hopefully this helps anyone else landing at this page via google search etc.. You’ve actually suggested the wrong key to swap the Command function with..

    You actually need to swap the functions of Command with ‘Option’ (Alt).

    For people that are used to where the keys are on a Mac keyboard, this then gives the correct key usage and layout using a PC keyboard on a Mac. Leave Control as it is.

    (Your version changes the key functions for people that are used to PC shortcuts, which will just get even more confusing for people that are used to a Mac key layout, or anyone wanting to actually learn how to use a Mac, and will stuff them up when they go to use any other Mac with a normal key layout. Hope this helps 🙂 )

  • Alan Puccinelli

    Great tip! Thanks so much for this. The transposing of the command keys on a PC keyboard hooked up to a mac has always driven me crazy! No more!

  • NAZIHAH

    Hi there Matt, I am thankful for this post because I’ve been looking for the solution to this problem everywhere! Thanks again Matt 😀

  • FoaRyan

    Thanks a million! I reinstalled OSX 2 weeks ago and have dealt with this situation since. Couldn’t remember why it worked before! (For anyone who’s counting: OSX Mountain Lion 2010 MBP with Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 kb)

  • Kenji

    Awesome, thanks so much for this!

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