MacBook Keyboard Guide

by Sebastian Kończak September 09, 2015 1 Comment

This is the ultimate guide for working with MacBook keyboards, including accessing special functions, characters, accents, and using keyboard shortcuts in Mac OS system. Click on the list below to jump to appropriate section.

  1. MacBook keyboard diagram/map
  2. MacBook keyboard symbols chart
  3. MacBook keyboard special characters and accents map
  4. Where is the Print Screen button?
  5. MacBook keyboard tricks

MacBook Keyboard Diagram / Map

Macbook Keyboard Diagram Map

MacBook keyboard has few distinctive sections: Function keys (in light blue), which provides access to various functions in MacBook itself or Mac OS system. By combining them with the FN key, you'll get access to F1 - F12 keys, which can be associated with particular application features (useful in Photoshop for example).

The second section is the modifier keys (in light yellow). Shift allows to type uppercase letters and other additional characters. Command and Alt/Option are used in keyboard shortcuts, as well as Control key, which is used almost exclusively by Mac OS X and Apple programs.

Return and left Shift has two variants, one used in USA and Eastern Asia (horizontal Return and long Shift), and second, used in Europe, Middle East and Africa (vertical Return and short left Shift). On diagram this is shown by dashed lines. Of course MacBook keyboards have lots of localizations, the most common - US English - is shown above. If you're unsure about the localization you have, go and check it with this guide.

MacBook Air 11" have slightly different keyboard, with smaller top and bottom row keys to accommodate smaller laptop size. Newest MacBooks Pro with TouchBar don't have upper F keys row, instead they have touchscreen which change displayed options based on context.

MacBook Keyboard Symbols Chart

 Symbol Meaning Notes
Screen brightness down
Screen brightness up
Launches Mission Control Icon available on MacBooks Unibody
Launches Mission Control Icon available on MacBooks pre-unibody
Launches Dashboard
Icon available on MacBooks Unibody
Launches Dashboard
Icon available on MacBooks pre-unibody
Keyboard backlight down
Keyboard backlight up
Play / Pause
Fast Forward
Sound: mute
Sound: volume down
Sound: volume up
Eject Available on MacBooks with CD/DVD drive
Power Available on MacBooks without CD/DVD drive
Command On MacBooks 1st generation this is replaced by Apple logo
Alt / Option Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Caps Lock
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts
Available on european/ISO keyboard layouts, accessed with FN key
Delete Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing
Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing
Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing. Can be substituted by CMD + up arrow shortcut.
Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing. 
Can be substituted by CMD + down arrow shortcut.
Page Up
Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing
Page Down
Not on MacBooks, but worth knowing
Arrows Used to move things or pointer

MacBook Keyboard Special Characters and Accents Map

If you want to type special characters or accents, change your keyboard language to US International PC (thanks, Steve!) and use the map below to get them.

MacBook Keyboard Special Characters and Accents Map

Where is the Print Screen Button?

Unlike PC keyboard, there is no Print Screen key on MacBook keyboard. This functionality is accessed by keyboard shortcuts and - on Mac - you have greater flexibility:

  • Command + Shift + 3 - captures entire screen;
  • Command + Shift + 4 - captures selected region. Your cursor turns to crosshair and by clicking and dragging you can specify which area you want to capture;
  • Command + Shift + 4 + Space - captures selected window. First press the shortcut from above, then - when you have crosshair - hit Space. Cursor will turn to camera and the active window will have blue overlay. Click on it to get it captured.

In some apps, like Photoshop, you need to add Control into the mix, to paste the screenshot into the app.

MacBook Keyboard Tricks

There's a lot you can do in Mac OS by using only keyboard. Here's a list of highly useful and not-so-useful keyboard shortcuts:

 Shortcut Action
Command + W Quickly closes active window in Safari or any other browser. Works also with many applications, like Pages, Numbers, Photoshop. Great way to quickly close something when your boss is coming around :)
Command + H
Hides the active application. Useful for hiding something quickly ;)
Option + Shift + F11/F12
Makes tiny changes in volume level instead of standard jumps.
Control + Option + Command + 8
Reverses colors on the screen.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
When watching YouTube video, this will advance you to 10%, 20%, 30%... of movie completion.
Option + Delete
Deletes whole word in text editors
Control + Command + V
Pastes copied text without formatting. Useful when copying something from Pages and pasting into eg. Wordpress :)
Control+Command+Option+Eject/Shutdown Shuts down the MacBook without the need to provide username and password.
Command + Shift + A Opens the Applications folder in Finder.
Command + Shift + U Opens the Utilities folder in Finder.
Command + Shift + D Opens the Desktop folder in Finder.
Command + Shift + I When in Safari, this shortcut copies the URL, opens Mail app and creates new email with the copied URL pasted as a link in message.
Command + Option + M Minimizes all open windows, showing Desktop.
Command + Option + Shift + Esc Hold for 3 seconds to force quit any app.
Command + Tab Cycle through opened apps from left to right.
Command + Shift + Tab
Cycle through opened apps from right to left.
Command + ` Cycles through active app windows.
Command + Q Quit active app.
Command + T Opens new tab in Finder. Opens new tab in web browser.
Command + N Creates new Finder window.
Command + Shift + N Creates new folder in Finder.
Command + Space Launches Spotlight.
Command + Option + Space Switches to next keyboard language (if you have more than one).
Command + Control + Space In some websites and apps this will give you the emoji keyboard.
Command + Delete Sends selected files/folders to trash.
Fn + Delete Deletes text from left to right.
F10 + Shutdown Hold while launching MacBook to get silent start.
Command + up arrow/down arrow Jump to the beginning or end of page. This is equivalent to PC's Home and End keys.
Command + up arrow + L Highlights the address bar in web browser.


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Sebastian Kończak


Multi-discipline man and co-founder at and order management software Ordee. I write about business automations, ecommerce, keyboards, and Adobe software tutorials.

1 Response


September 03, 2016

Hey, thanks for teaching me something! I learnt that command + L takes me to the URL entry field in my browser. Thanks for that!

I was actually at your site looking for something else. I have a US keyboard and I am living in Spain. I want my keyboard to work the way Spanish keyboards do: to type accented vowels, Spaniards type ’ followed by a vowel. Whereas I have to type alt + E followed by the vowel. Similarly they can type " followed by u to get ü. For that I need to type alt + u followed by u. Same applies to ~ followed by n for ñ instead of alt + n followed by n.

The solution is to go the System Preferences and add a keyboard named U.S. International – PC and make it active. This changes nothing about the layout but instead changes the behaviour of the ‘, " and ~ keys so that they “attach” to the next key that’s typed.

This has been a godsend for me, living in a country where half the words have diacritical marks.

I thought you should know because your guide is the ULTIMATE guide to keyboard shortcuts and this set of shortcuts took me a loooooooong time of browsing and experimenting to find.


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