I just purchased a MacBook Air with OSX v10.8.4. When I edit the modifier keys (I want to change Caps Lock to Ctrl), it works for a while, but then reverts back to defaults some time later. I'm making the changes here

System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Modifier Keys...

I just tested making the change, closing the lid, then opening it. The change stuck past that. So I'm not exactly sure when the settings revert, but they do eventually revert back to the defaults.

Any idea how to make this change stick?

6 Answers 6


Try uninstalling any keyboard or pointing device drivers. Or delete ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/.GlobalPreferences.*.plist and restart.

You can also use PCKeyboardHack to remap caps lock. Other modifier keys can be remapped with KeyRemap4MacBook:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
  <!-- <devicevendordef>
  </deviceproductdef> -->
    <!-- <device_only>DeviceVendor::KINESIS, DeviceProduct::ADVANTAGE</device_only> -->
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::COMMAND_L, KeyCode::CONTROL_L</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::COMMAND_R, KeyCode::CONTROL_L</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::CONTROL_L, KeyCode::COMMAND_L</autogen>

Related questions:

  • Thanks for the response, @Lauri Ranta. Wow, seems pretty involved to get something so simple to work #disappointing.
    – three-cups
    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:42

For others facing this problem, Repairing Permissions of the startup disk with Disk Utility did the trick for me.


I have been experiencing the same problem, but in OSX 10.9.4. Namely, in System Preferences I remap Caps Lock to Ctrl, and it reverts itself back to Caps Lock after a day or two for no discernable reason.

To solve this you can use Seil to remap your Caps Lock key. Additionally, you can use Karabiner for a huge range of other keyboard settings.

  • 2
    If anyone knows why this problem is happening in the first place, I'd like to know!
    – apolune
    Aug 10, 2014 at 8:47
  • Yes. I'm also interested in an actual solution instead of third party remapper apps. May 5, 2019 at 10:44

I had a similar problem on OS X 10.11.2 with a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 - where the modifier keys switched back after a few minutes. The Intellitype driver didn't help - it doesn't seem to do anything.

Karabiner solved the problem.

A really useful reference if you have that particular keyboard is Using Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard with Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11)

  • Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – nohillside
    Nov 9, 2015 at 9:37

My experience was that I've had installed Karabiner-Elements on my Macbook Pro and forgot that the app mentions it will override any System Preferences regarding keyboard settings.

So, after opening Karabiner-Elements, I discovered that I had assigned Caps_Lock to Caps_Lock (marvellous) so the resolution was simple.


I find the reset happens when a remote VNC connection comes in. Stop connecting using VNC and the setting no longer gets cleared.

Like many others, I have switched to using Karabiner to prevent this reset.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 23, 2018 at 10:57
  • The original author was confused why it was happening; that was the question I was answering. I have updated with a redundant) solution.
    – Charlie
    Jan 23, 2018 at 19:09

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