So, the default key combinations to manually insert curved quotation marks (“” and ‘’) in OS X are:

  • option + [ for “
  • option + ] for ‘
  • option + shift + [ for ”
  • option + shift + ] for ’

Possibly due to muscle memory and the mental association with the keys ([ being an "opening" symbol and ] being a "closing" one) I find this specific setup very confusing, so I'll always get it wrong when inserting curved quotation marks manually. And have to try all combinations until I get the right quote.

What I would like to achieve is the (IMO) more intuitive setup:

  • option + [ for “
  • option + ] for ”
  • option + shift + [ for ‘
  • option + shift + ] for ’

What setting/file/app I need to fiddle with to remap these characters? Is there a special keyboard layout I can download that will do this for me? Thanks in advance.

PS: I'm aware of the "smart quotes" feature, but I'd like to have more fine grained control, that's why I want the manual insertion to be intuitive for me.

1 Answer 1


You can use KeyRemap4MacBook with a private.xml such as this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
    <name>Manual Smart Quotes</name>
      KeyCode::BRACKET_RIGHT, VK_OPTION | ModifierFlag::NONE,
      KeyCode::BRACKET_LEFT, ModifierFlag::OPTION_L | ModifierFlag::SHIFT_L
      KeyCode::BRACKET_LEFT, VK_OPTION, | ModifierFlag::SHIFT_L,
      KeyCode::BRACKET_RIGHT, ModifierFlag::OPTION_L
  • Does this work on non-MacBook keyboards? Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 20:51
  • @Peanut Yes, it works on any keyboard. The software was renamed Karabiner to avoid this kind of confusion, but the software has always had this functionality despite the name.
    – grg
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 21:01

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