I work as a developer and exclusively use the keyboard for text selection and navigation. I have to switch between windows and OSX a lot.

Is there any way to make

  1. the OSX keyboard behave like windows
  2. the windows keyboard behave like OSX

particularly when it comes to text editing?

The differences hurt my productivity, because whenever I switch platform, my muscle memory kicks in and will use the wrong combinations on the other OS, which will lead to a wrong caret position at best, or - depending on the program - switched inapp-windows and/or other very undesired behavior which takes even more time to correct at worst.

I would prefer Version 1, because - while i can train my brain to swap, i am used to it more and also the windows-behavior seems "more" standard to me, since it is used on mainstream Linux Desktops as well.

Text editing keyboard shortcuts:

move to the start / end of a line:
Windows: pos1 / end
OSX: ctrl+left / ctrl+right

move to the start / end of the document
Windows: ctrl+pos1 / ctrl+end
OSX: pos1 / end

move to the start / end of the current word
Windows: ctrl+left / ctrl+right
OSX: alt+left / alt+right

(I am happy that the added shift key behaves consistently across platforms, performing selection instead of mere caret navigation)

Bonus question: other keyboard shortcuts:

I already swapped the Command-key with control globally in osx keyboard settings, to make behavior a bit more consistent (i.e, ctrl+s to save instead of command+s)

However when it comes to navigation between application, this breaks down, because:

Next/previous tab within an application
Windows: ctrl+tab / ctrl+shift+tab
OSX: ctrl+tab / ctrl+shift+tab

Also it does not solve

Next Application
Windows: alt+tab
OSX: command+tab

A solution that also covers this would be even better :)

2 Answers 2


In short, you can't do it. You might get close employing such as Karabiner, Better Touch Tool, AutoHotKey etc, but you will never achieve 100%. You additionally have to fight that not only is Mac a paradigm shift from Windows, but that Terminal-type apps also have a separate set of rules.

TL:DR Learn the differences. Long-term it's better than trying to fight it.

One really good tip to help you learn the difference…
Don't try to use the same keyboard for both. Have a Mac keyboard & a PC keyboard.

Anecdotally, I've been working cross-platform for 20 years, prior to that I was Mac only.
I daily have to work with

  • Macs on Mac keyboards
  • Windows on Win keyboards
  • a Mac with a Windows keyboard [because I needed a wireless one with built-in trackpad]
  • Windows over RDC from a Mac keyboard.

The first two are easy, the last two are [comparitively] hard.

A comparison, if you ever drive abroad - it's much easier to drive a rental with the steering wheel on the correct side for the country you're in than it is to take your own car & be on the 'wrong' side of the road. As a Brit, this happens almost everywhere I travel, as we're in the minority in driving on the 'proper' side of the road :P

  • You might get away with a UNIX, command line level editor (emacs, vi, etc.) as they are almost universally customizable down to the smallest bits. But while UNIX utilities are commonly available to Mac users, they are less so for Windows users. So the question remains can you use such an editor on both systems and are you willing to spend the time fiddling with configurations to get them both exactly the same? Aug 19, 2020 at 18:32
  • Thank you for the answer an - oh well ... That's very very sad.to hear :/ So if i understand you correctly, a different keybord will help my muscle-memory to swtich ... like if i was to switch from a guitar to a bass, if that analogy makes sense?
    – IARI
    Aug 19, 2020 at 22:51
  • It's potentially a bit more like moving from bass to cello [one's tuned in 4ths the other in 5th] but yes, a decent analogy :) Along that tack - last year I had to play upright bass in a gig for a month, having not touched one in 40 years. First day I could barely find a note. By the end of the month it was second nature. It does come to you, with practise.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 20, 2020 at 6:08
  • I'm still too lazy for that, because i need to productively get shit done right now, and at the moment the back-and-forth switching just doesnt really work well. The thing is, i would there are A LOT of keyboard shortcuts in the Intellij IDEs, which i use heavily, and if i want to use the osx profile, they are entirely different as well, but the windows profile conflicts with native osx shortcuts. so for a start i will give Karabiner a try, thanks fpr that hint.
    – IARI
    Aug 24, 2020 at 10:23
  • 1
    @IARI just as Apple and Microsoft have built different methods for handling screen resolution and pixel doubling, the way they solved meta keys on the keyboard diverged long ago. You are correct that code switching is very hard, but giving up the power of shortcuts and restricting yourself to the lowest common denominator of keyboard functions isn’t workable either.
    – bmike
    Mar 3, 2021 at 11:07

The best method I have found for tweaking hotkeys on Windows to be more like Mac is by using Windows PowerToys Keyboard Manager. It lets you easily remap keys on the keyboard to be very close to Mac-like in regards to text selection. It has the added ability to limit hotkeys to certain applications so it can be infinitely tweaked depending on what you are doing.

I have a Mac keyboard so my hotkeys are assuming that the windows key is to the right of the alt key on the keyboard. If you are using a Windows keyboard adjust the settings accordingly.

Keyboard Manager Shortcuts

In order of the screenshot, the following shortcuts enable:

  • Move cursor left of word
  • Move cursor right of word
  • Select left of word
  • Select right of word
  • Move cursor to start of line (Selection works as-is using this combo + shift with no extra hotkeys)
  • Move cursor to end of line (Selection works as-is using this combo + shift with no extra hotkeys)
  • Select all
  • Copy
  • Paste

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