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Is this key the same as shift?

If so, why don't people just call it shift? I spent a long time looking around for what this key means. Google returned no results. My MacBook Air keyboard does not have this symbol either.

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Shift is called shift, because historically it shifted parts of the type writer up or down to provide stamps of the uppercase or lowercase letters. – Max Ried Mar 30 '12 at 16:08
Great question. I wondered this too for a while, and there are no clues on the keyboard, or the shape of the symbol. – CoffeeRain Mar 30 '12 at 18:22
Here is a list of all these symbols... – GEdgar Aug 26 '12 at 2:16
up vote 18 down vote accepted

That is the Option key (Alt on Windows). It's not the same as shift - it's generally used as a secondary modifier for keyboard shortcuts (Command being the primary modifier) and for shortcuts that don't perform an action (Option-8 is a bullet point and Option-Shift-8 is a degree symbol °).

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Thank you, that makes sense! – John Hoffman Mar 18 '12 at 4:05
It is indeed interesting to note that that symbol isn't used on some keyboard layouts, like those of a MBA. Instead it has option written out in full. – Gerry Mar 18 '12 at 11:01
@Gerry (New) US keyboards don't use the symbols as much as new European ones or older keyboards. – user495470 Mar 18 '12 at 12:29
But even if you have a US keyboard, with "option" written out, you will see menu shortcuts with that funny symbol in them... Same for "shift" and "control". – GEdgar Mar 30 '12 at 20:08

The first symbol is the option key, located between the command and control keys on a typical Mac keyboard.

enter image description here

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