I cannot seem to find out how to hit the ctrl key on a Mac. When I open a terminal and I want to exit an editor such as nano as I cannot since I don't know how to exit and save. How would I do this? I am using OS X 10.5.

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    What happens if you type the ctrl key? – Michiel May 24 '12 at 11:52
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    Please, tell me this is not a "I can't find the 'any' key". – Thecafremo May 24 '12 at 13:15
  • Make sure the Control Key is enabled in System Preferences / Keyboard / Keyboard / Modifier Keys. – lhf May 24 '12 at 13:34
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    See also apple.stackexchange.com/questions/40192/… – lhf May 24 '12 at 13:49
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    @Michiel I think he is asking how to exit or save while using the editor nano inside Terminal. Really kinda need the OP to clarify as the question is difficult to understand. – E1Suave May 24 '12 at 15:39

Different keyboard layouts have used different labels on the CTRL or Control key. It might be marked control or CTRL or even ^. Additionally, the behavior of that key can be easily reassigned using System Preferences, which means that the control key on your keyboard could be remapped to do something else (or nothing); if you are not getting results when you post, that could be the problem.

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I've created an instructional video on how to press the control key on a mid-2011 MacBook Air.


When working in the editor nano (within Terminal) your ctrl key combinations are listed at the bottom of said terminal window.

NOTE: The following key combinations consist of only letters.

The key combinations you are searching for are:

ctrl + o = Save (Will provide a prompt to chose name to save as)

ctrl + x = Exit

Other popular combinations while on the standard nano editor are:

ctrl + g = Get Help

ctrl + r = Read file (Insert file from specific location)

ctrl + k = Cut Text (Will cut the entire line of text that your cursor is on)

ctrl + w = Where Is (Search current nano page)

ctrl + c = Current Position (Locates the current position your cursor is on and reports the line column and character)

  • The OP implies that they already know how to do this. – Jason Salaz May 24 '12 at 17:37
  • @JasonSalaz The question is very confusing in how it is worded. – E1Suave May 24 '12 at 17:42
  • @JasonSalaz I apologize I interpreted I don't know how to exit and save to say that the OP didn't know. – E1Suave May 24 '12 at 17:54
  • But all the sentences before that involve the inability to use the Ctrl key, which Nano leverages heavily, which you also point out in this post. – Jason Salaz May 24 '12 at 22:00
  • @JasonSalaz :–) It just reminded me of when my little brother got stuck in nano and couldn't figure out how to exit. :–D – E1Suave May 24 '12 at 22:01

I understand the problem. For me, my Mac mapped the control key to Mission Control. Open up Mission Control in Settings, and disable the control key. That's it. The Control key will work now.


Have you ever done a ^c to exit a program? It's the same key that the caret stands for. On my keyboard it is on the bottom left of the keyboard. CTRL stands for control, which is what is written on the key. If that doesn't work, try checking the System Preferences to see if it is enabled.

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