Keyboard shortcuts in Windows & OS X
26 Jun 2012

I use OS X at home and Windows at work. I’m happy switching between the two, but one big difference that always gets me is keyboard shortcuts.

In Windows, the key you hit with your shortcuts is ctrl, (usually) found in the leftmost, bottommost corner of a keyboard. In OS X though, you’ve got the cmd key - just to the left of the space bar. Getting used to one or the other is not a problem, but using both every day always finds me wondering - briefly - why nothing’s happening. Oh right, not that key, the other one.

Help in an unlikely place

If you’re reading this, you probably hate the Caps Lock key.

It’s big, it’s taking up prime keyboard real-estate, and its functionality is annoying - both when you hit it accidentally, and when you watch someone use it as a Shift key. So let’s make it work for us by turning it into a giant shortcut key, one that’s already under your little finger when you’re on the home row. Perhaps best of all, it’s in exactly the same place, no matter the OS.

Making this change on a Mac is dead easy: hit up System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Modifier Keys, and then remap Caps Lock to cmd.

Under Windows, remapping Caps Lock to ctrl is not quite so straightforward. I used SharpKeys which modifies the registry to remap keys (also useful for remapping media keys if they’re not detected by Windows coughAppleKeyboardcough).


I’ve found that this remapping becomes natural very quickly, so much so that I find myself trying to use it on other computers and ending up disappointed. I think this is the reason you should try and avoid too many tweaks like this: it adds one more thing you have to think about when you’re using another computer, one more setting you have to change. In this case though, I definitely think it’s worth it.

As a final bonus, it’s also far more comfortable than using ctrl or cmd if you’re hitting those shortcuts all day - Caps Lock is simply in a more natural position. No hand contortion here.

Maybe you're not such a bad guy after all, Caps Lock.