Sorry in advance about what seems like a trivial question. However, I've recently switched from PC to Mac, and while I'm really happy about the switch, this is one of the few issues I'm struggling with.

On a PC, the most important shortcuts are CTRL-A (select all), CTRL-C (copy), and CTRL-V (paste). Almost all the other important shortcuts also use the CTRL key.

On the PC keyboard, the CTRL key is in the bottom left corner of the keyboard. So, it's very easy to hold it with your pinky, while keeping your hand in its normal position, so you can easily press the other key required for the shortcut (e.g., A, C, V, etc).

On a Mac, the "equivalent" key to CTRL is Command. However, I can't easily reach that key with any finger - especially without moving my hand from its normal position - so, I can't easily press Command-C or Command-V without really focusing on it.

Is this just a result of years of practicing on a PC? What finger do Mac users use to click the command key when executing a shortcut?

  • 6
    So what did you end up doing? I am in the same boat. I realized that my muscles around thumb gets really tired when I am coding continuously for 4 to 5 hours. In past this has never happened on regular windows keyboard layout.
    – bits
    Jul 7, 2015 at 0:27
  • 3
    I have typed on Mac for 20+ years. I take ergonomics seriously and use Dvorak, but I do have big hands, which probably does not help. I am sure that using Apple laptops is damaging my hands severely because of the Command (CMD-A,C,T,V) and Option (left/right one word) shortcuts. Dec 8, 2016 at 20:36
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    Pre-kickstarter survey: would anyone fund a physical button you could stick below the space bar that would be a Cmd button? Dec 8, 2016 at 20:37
  • 1
    I'd appreciate the command key stretched to underneath the C key on the 2016 macbook pro and the spacebar start from underneath V. Mar 9, 2017 at 0:14
  • 3
    I love my macbooks and imac, but I think this is the thing I miss most from my PCs. Just anchoring my pinking on the CTRL and being able to hit A, C, V, S, Z in rapid succession Dec 9, 2020 at 7:15

8 Answers 8


You can use either thumb to hold down a key and then use another finger to access the other key. You just have to get used to sliding either thumb a little to the left or to the right of the space bar.

Yes, this is just a result of years of using a PC.

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    Apple suggests not rolling the thumbs under your wrists in their manual. I believe they are trying to prevent (some) people from getting carpal tunnel syndrome and other debilitating hand injuries. I would strongly advise to listen to the manual on this one.
    – Zombies
    Jun 1, 2015 at 14:41
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    I have gotten a smaller hand injury on this one, because you are twisting your thumb in a bad posture, so this should absolutely be avoided! Jul 17, 2015 at 8:37
  • @Zombies Do you have a source for this? Dec 8, 2016 at 20:33
  • I found it on the user manual that came with the macbook pro 2014. It was inside the box.
    – Zombies
    Dec 13, 2016 at 14:55
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    I've switched between Windows and Macs for over 20 years, and in general I prefer Mac, but I believe the positioning of the command key for shortcuts with Mac is inferior and terrible for your wrists. The natural way of shortcuts tends to be thumb on command key and roll pointer finger over to c + v, which is a cause of wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. So no, it's not just 'a result of years of using a PC'. It's the result of poor design on Macs behalf.
    – Manachi
    Jan 8, 2020 at 0:14

Here is the official advice from Apple

On page 67, they state the following:

Use a light touch when typing or using the trackpad and keep your hands and fingers relaxed. Avoid rolling your thumbs under your palms.

Based on this, it would be my assumption that they intend you to either move your entire hand and use your thumb or pointer finger. If you find this unnatural, you can always change the control key to perform the duty of the command key. Open System Preferences > Keyboard > Modifier Keys, and change the buttons around as you see fit.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • I think switching CTRL and CMD keys is the best approach for people with big hands.
    – Wosi
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:16
  • They should make the cmd,ctrl,opt keys the same size and allow us to swap the keycaps...
    – somebody4
    Aug 11, 2021 at 2:57
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    Wow, literally advice from apple admitting they boned it. What a crappy keyboard design. ctr-c/ctrl-v is such a common pattern, how did they screw it up so badly?
    – Freeman
    Aug 29, 2021 at 19:24
  • @PeterT Because Apple and NeXT (where OSX came from) had always used the command key - ctrl is a late comer. But better is the NeXT keyboard okqubit.net/machines/img/next_adb-keyboard.jpg
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 3, 2022 at 19:09
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    I am a programmer and recently, the thumb of my left hand started to twitch uncontrollably. Googling everywhere does not tell me what to do. But this should explain the issue. I just did the switch and hope it helps.
    – Bob
    Mar 2, 2022 at 16:56

When I first made the switch to Mac I used System Preferences -> Keyboard to switch the ⌘ key with ^ (control) key. That worked for a while until I became more comfortable with the basic two-key commands. Once I started using more complex three and four key commands I had to put it back to default because I needed the labels on the keys at first to remember what the symbols <-> key mappings were.


I mostly use my thumb. If I'm trying to hit a key that's more in the middle or right side of the keyboard (such as C or V), I use my ring finger.

Note that I'm a horrible typist, so I never use the right key. If you're comfortable using that, you can probably just use your thumbs.

  • 1
    Thank you man, after switching from Windows I used only thumb for ⌘ key, but had painful thumb joint from it. Then switched to your method and use ring finger when needed and everything is all right now, no more pain.
    – remo
    May 16, 2017 at 13:06

It's easier to type shortcuts if you use Sticky Keys as well. This way you can type shortcuts one key at a time, which might sound slower, but isn't if it means you can keep your hands in position and your eyes on the screen.

I tend to use my thumb for command. I use my left pinky for control, shift and Fn, although it may be different for others as I keep my pinkies over the row below the home row. Alt is tricky, but I guess the pinky makes the most sense for me personally, usually.

There's nothing wrong in using different fingers at different times. For instance on the rare occasion I want to show the Dock (⌃⌥⌘F) I move my arm and use index on cmd, middle on alt and ring on control, then type the D afterwards.


I also thought it was inconvenient at start but later realised how good it is with the command button. I learnt to type on a keyboard with no markings which requires you to have all keys memorised and your fingers on the right position on the keyboard. By using the command button with your thumb (which is regularly only used for the space ), your fingers are always positioned correctly on the keyboard. Using the control button, you HAVE to use your pinky finger which makes your fingers leave the correct position, which in the end makes you look at the keyboard!

(by correct position i mean, pinky on A, ring finger on S, middle finger on D, long finger on F etc.)

  • I touch type and I find that in order for my thumb to get to the command position, it disorientates my hand sufficiently from the standard touch typing pose on both PC and Mac, but in a way that is more squashed on Mac. Do you in addition to using your thumb, use the ring finger for X and middle finger for C, for copy and paste? As opposed to pinky&index for both copy and paste on PC. Mar 9, 2017 at 0:11

Very late reply but just giving my 2 cents as a long time Apple Magic Keyboard user who's been using a more standard keyboard layout for around 4 months.

Note: This only applies to the official Apple keyboards like the Magic Keyboard.

I have to disagree with some of the comments on the accepted answer which say to avoid using the thumb. Due to the Apple keyboards having a much smaller spacebar than the average PC keyboard layout, the thumb movement required to reach the Command key is very minimal. So minimal in fact, that the thumb knuckle is usually the only joint that requires movement and the amount of movement is generally within the natural range of the thumb. In other words, it's a very comfortable movement. That's at least how I feel and I have generally medium-small hands.

If however, you're using a non-Apple keyboard with a larger spacebar, yes, it's not advisable to use your thumbs for command as the additional movement required could cause you problems in the long run.


I think the best way is to use the pinky to press the command key and the thumb to press the space.

  1. First of all, you need to maintain the correct typing posture enter image description here
  2. Swap the command key and option key. Because if you keep this position, the option key is right under your pinky, so it's very convenient to press
  3. Don't press shortcut keys with the same hand.If you decide to use your left pinky then use your right thumb, if you decide to use your right pinky use your left thumb.
  • 1
    So where is the command key in your image? How do you get the pinky on it with the position of hands as shown?
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 14, 2023 at 6:34

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