How to Use a PC Keyboard on a Mac, and What Is the Command Key?


PC keyboards are used on Macs without any special software, but you may want to remap the Command key. The Mac Command key performs shortcut operations like Command-S to save. PC keyboards have a Windows Control key to perform the same functions. The Command key is mapped to the Control key by default, so press Control instead of Command for all your shortcuts. Some users prefer the PC Alt key as Command because it sits next to the space bar just like Command does on a Mac keyboard. Remap the Command key to Alt, or use the PC keyboard as-is.

  • Plug the keyboard into an open USB slot. The Mac will automatically detect and recognize the keyboard.

  • Go to "System Preferences" and then "Keyboard & Mouse" to change the default Command key map.

  • Click "Modifier Keys..." at the bottom of the Keyboard & Mouse menu. A modifier key menu opens.

  • Change "Option Key" to "Command" using the drop-down menu. Also change "Command Key" to "Option."

  • Choose "OK" and close the System Preferences window. Your Command key is now mapped to the PC Alt button, and your Option key is the PC Control key. The Option-Alt key is used to type special characters like accented vowels.

  • Press the Alt key to perform Command shortcuts.

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