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I got a new MacMini a little while ago because I already had a monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc so I just wanted something cheap I could play with for Apple development where I could just change plugs to the computer I want to use.

The biggest problem is that my keyboard is a standard (or not so standard being a DasKeyboard) keyboard in regards to the Control-Windows-Alt key setup. As all good developers should, I have trained my fingers' muscle memory to work well with common Windows-based (and Linux for that matter) keyboard shortcuts. I've actually instinctively hit Control-Shift-B to "compile" a Word document before (/facepalm).

I tried remapping the Command key to be my keyboard's Control key, and that alone takes care of most of my problems. End and Home buttons are another issue altogether, and trying to highlight words using Control (aka the Command) causes frustration as well.

I've considered just getting myself a wireless Apple keyboard just for the MacMini and forcing myself to learn things their way. Or perhaps resetting my current key mappings and trying to force learn everything in an Apple-ish way on my standard keyboard (so I just need to get used to using Alt instead of Control). Has anyone else run into this problem? How did you go about solving it?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, MichaelT, Bart van Ingen Schenau, GlenH7, Dan Pichelman Jul 3 at 22:27

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2 Answers 2

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I had the same issues you're having (standard/non-Mac keyboard, Mac mini). I've also tried to do it "the Apple way" (both with my current Mini and with the iMac and Apple keyboard at a previous job), but it ended up slowing me down and frustrating me to no end, because, like you, I find myself doing things from my main IDE in other applications (like Ctrl+E to delete a line, or Ctrl+Shift+F to align text).

Also, while the Apple keyboard is, in its own right, really nice, it's ultimately not much different from a standard keyboard (and last I knew, the Bluetooth wireless one doesn't have a numpad), and you should be able to work just fine with a standard keyboard as long as it has a Windows/Super key. If you find yourself actually liking the Apple workflow and the shortcuts, then it might be worthwhile to pick up the Apple keyboard (since there is an "Apple" key in addition to the other three, though I've never needed it), but until then, I say save your money.

Here's what I've found:

The Apple Way

The easiest rule of thumb for Apple computer shortcuts, if you want to go that route, is that anything you'd press Control for, you'd now press Command (aka "super" aka "Windows key"), and Home and End now take you to the start or end of a document (use instead cmd+left arrow for home and cmd+right arrow for end).

If you really want to tough it out, I highly recommend finding a keyboard shortcut cheatsheet.

The Blasphemous Way

I'm serious. This is literally considered blasphemous to the Apple zealots, because end going to the end of a document is The Right Way(tm) and any other way is Just Stupid. I kid you not, I saw a discussion that brought up the home/end key thing, and the Apple fans were all astounded that the others couldn't see the genius that is going to the end of a document and basically said the rest of us were in the dark, and how dare we change it from the Apple way. It was kind of scary.

I'll probably get chased down by a mob of Apple zealots, but I ended up going this route, and save for the (somewhat humorous) quirk that my X11-based applications (*cough*Gimp*cough*) now respond to the Apple-style shortcuts instead of their normal ones, it's saved me a ton of headache.

  1. Install DoubleCommand
  2. Set your keymappings to what you're used to (I have "PC style Home/End keys", "Command acts as Control" and "Control acts as Command" checked and it works well for me), save to system and user, and activate.
  3. ????
  4. Profit!
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I read about the DoubleCommand feature on the web, decided to go ahead and try it out. If anything, I love having my home and end keys working. I find I use those keys too often in programming to have them removed. –  Anthony Aug 11 '11 at 20:14
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I use IBM Model M ( Unicomp Customizer 104/105 ) keyboards exclusively, and I map the COMMAND key to the WINDOWS and pry them off and swap the ALT with the WINDOWS keys on both sides of the keyboard.

That makes CTRL standard, ALT is OPTION and WINDOWS is COMMAND and in the correct locations as per an offical Apple keyboard.

The MENU key is useless, but I don't use the right side of the keyboard for many multi-key press combinations.

Below is an unmodified keylayout of the keyboards I am refering to.

Unicomp Customizer 104/105 ( IBM Model M )

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