It should be an easy thing to do if I only could find out how to change the symbol (e.g. from ∂ to € or so) - but as a programmer with a lot of shortcuts this is the only thing that keeps doubting me, if a Mac is the right choice.

It's a 10.10.3; I'm using Intellij and Emacs.

Btw: the same happens for lots of other keys (€®†Ω¨⁄øπ•œ@∆ºª) - this makes the alt-key almost useless.

  • Which IDE and OS do you use at the moment? Please specify what you want to accomplish. Map the Alt key to the Ctrl key? BTW it doesn't seem very logical that you want to change Alt-D from ∂ to € and later wondering about Alt-E = €.
    – klanomath
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:38
  • What exactly are you using alt shortcuts for? Mac layouts normally use the alt layer for special characters, but you can make custom layouts via Ukelele or Karabiner. Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:53
  • I don't want to change ∂ to € but get rid of the key binding altogether and have it bound in the IDE.
    – fricke
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


The Alt key on the Mac is used differently than on Windows. Its main use is exactly what you see: To enter special ("alternate") characters.

Menu shortcuts and such are always triggered by a Command-key ("⌘") combo (sometimes including other modifier keys, such as the Alt key). For example, closing all open windows in Finder is [Cmd]-[Alt]-[W].

  • P.S. If you want to see a special-key overview: Systemeinstellungen - Tastatur - Eingabequellen - "Eingabequellen in Menüleiste zeigen". Then click on the German flag in the menubar and choose "Tastaturübersicht". If you hold down the Alt key, it shows all the alternate key assignments. Try Shift+Alt together, too. Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 14:17
  • so does that mean that I should use [Cmd] instead of [Alt] for emacs?
    – fricke
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:05
  • Hm, I'm not familiar with Emacs, but doesn't it use mainly [Ctrl] combinations? In Terminal, pressing [Cmd]-something will execute Terminal menu bar shortcuts (for example Cmd-N will open a new Terminal window.) Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:20
  • many commands in the echo area are with alt (or Meta), like "M-x command" - now I mapped M(eta) to the cmd key instead.
    – fricke
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 19:58

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