How to Switch the Control and Command Keys

  Matt Cone       January 3, 2021      Tutorials Mac


One of the most subtle differences between a Mac and a PC is also one of the biggest: the functionality of the control key on the keyboard. When you buy a Mac, you’ll need to start using the command key instead of the control key. For example, instead of pressing Control-S to save and Control-C to copy like you did in Windows, you’ll have to press Command-S and Command-C to do the same thing in macOS. All of the other available keyboard shortcuts are similarly affected.

If this switch from control to command is driving you nuts, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a fix. Your Mac provides a way for you to switch the primary modifier keys and use the control key instead of command for every applicable keystroke in macOS. It’s a great feature for new Mac users who keep forgetting they have to use the command key, and it’s also beneficial for those who use a Mac at home and a PC at work and want consistency between the keyboards.

Here’s how to switch the command and control keys:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. Select Keyboard.

  3. Click the Modifier Keys… button.

    Mac Keyboard System Preferences

    The window shown below appears.

    Change the Control and Command keys on your Mac

  4. From the Command Key menu, select Control. This lets Mac OS X know that you’ll be using the control key as the primary modifier.

  5. From the Control Key menu, select Command. This lets Mac OS X know that you’ll be using the command key as the secondary modifier.

  6. Click OK.

  7. Close the System Preferences.

You Mac will now recognize the control key as the primary modifier. Try it! Create a new document and save it by pressing Control-S. If you ever want to switch the command and control keys back again, just follow the instructions above to revert to your Mac’s default functionality.

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© 2021. A Matt Cone project. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Made with 🌶️ in New Mexico.