I recently bought am older Mac (Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger). I have a PC keyboard and when I tried the keyboard shortcuts for text editing such as copy, paste, cut, select-all I realized they don't work.

I researched the web for some help and found that the Mac keys are not in the same place as Windows keys. Most probable alt acts as control because that's where the command key on a Mac keyboard is placed or sometimes Windows key. None of the combinations seem to work.

The control key works on the Mac because I can switch between FireFox tabs by pressing control + tab, control + shift + tab or I can use control + Z and control + Y.

Do you have any ideas why this is not working and how I can fix it?

  • I managed to solve the issue. I downloaded DoubleCommand and selected Control key acts as Command Key and hit Activate. Works perfectly now.
    – razvan
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 10:59
  • The answer in that question wasn't just cut/copy/paste, it had links to see/learn a lot of keyboard shortcuts for people coming from Windows. Did none of those links work for you?
    – fsb
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Almost all of the keyboard shortcuts you've learned on Windows are the same on the Mac. The difference is which modifier key you use to invoke them.

On Windows, shortcuts are typically invoked with the Ctrl modifier key.

On the Mac, you use the Command key, also known as the "command" key. It's in the same physical position as the Alt key on a Windows keyboard, but is nothing like the Alt key.

The Mac has its own Alt key, labeled Opt/Alt. Its primary use is a secondary modifier for keystrokes. Command-Option-S might be "Save As", for example, while Command-S is regular "Save".

The Ctrl key is there on a Mac keyboard, too, but it's hardly ever used for anything.

The relative layouts look something like this:

     PC:     Ctrl Windows Alt

     Mac:   Ctrl Opt/Alt Command

The problem is that you're most likely using a PC keyboard on your Mac. In that specific case, the Opt/Alt and Command keys are reversed. You can change this in System Preferences, under Keyboard. Truly a huge pain in the rear for switchers. That layout looks like this, instead:

     PC keyboard on Mac:   Ctrl Command Opt/Alt

Apple's website has some pretty good hints and tips for Windows switchers. Start here for answers to your specific question about keyboard shortcuts. Then go here and read everything!

  • Thanks for the information, now I know why the command key is next to the CTRL key , its because of the windows keyboard. Still didn't help me to much because command key(windows on my keyboard) didn't work with those key combination's. Seems I had to download DoubleCommand and switch command key with CTRL and works great now.
    – razvan
    Commented Apr 17, 2011 at 11:03
  • "Almost all of the keyboard shortcuts you've learned on Windows are the same on the Mac." But we all know this is true because Windows copied them 1:1! Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 8:15

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