Pages

Mac: Where did my Backspace key go?

My Mac keyboard has taken a bit of adjusting for me, especially coming from Windows. It's not that it's difficult, just that I still spend a lot of time on my Windows machine and moving between the two keyboards can be a bit frustrating at times.

The MacBook adds to that challenge because it doesn't have some of the keys that I've become used to having on a full size keyboard. Where the Backspace key is on my Windows machine is a key labeled Delete. It performs the same function as a Backspace key on Windows though - so far so good.

The Delete key on my Windows machines (usually Del since it's a small key) doesn't exist on my MacBook. For the first month or so I accepted that I had to move past a letter and back over it with Delete in order to remove it. I like the fact that my keyboard has keys that have a little space between them - cutting down the key count by not including Del, Page up, Page Down, etc. means that I don't have a cramped keyboard like I do on my other HP laptop. It was a reasonable compromise from my standpoint.

What I just found out though was that I can Delete forward on a MacBook keyboard by holding down the "fn" (Function) key and hitting Delete. 

So where are the other missing keys?

Full Keyboard        MacBook Keyboard        
Delete (Forward)fn-Delete
Homefn-Left Arrow
Endfn-Right Arrow
Page Upfn-Up Arrow
Page Downfn-Down Arrow

Happy typing!

33 comments:

Bradders said...

If you hold "alt" or "option" and press most other keys you'll get a load of other symbols. The most obvious and most looked for is #, option+3.

Anonymous said...

not my site

http://www.danrodney.com/mac/index.html

i find it useful

Desi said...

Hey... this is unrelated but something you may want to look into.

If i type: http://davidalison.com/ i get a GoDaddy page. But if i type http://www.davidalison.com/ i get to your box. You may want to check your host setting.

:-)

David Alison said...

@Desi: I need to update the DNS setting. I had some problems with that and Blogger before and never bothered to fix it. Forgot about it - thanks for the reminder!

William said...

This site has a dashboard widget, character pal that has tons of keyboard short cuts.

http://www.tacowidgets.com/index.php

Tom said...

The whole delete/backspace naming convention goes way back. For some reason, delete on a Mac has always been "make the character behind my cursor go away", and forward delete removes the character ahead of the cursor.

If you go back to pre computer times, the true backspace key on typewriters never erased anything. Instead the function was there to move back one to then be able to type an accent character over the letter you just typed. IE, you would type a [backspace] ' to get รก. This seems to have been examined by the Apple designers, hence they used delete to indicate text would be going away, instead of confusing the backspace key as doing something different then the typewriter key did.

Another interesting split in decisions is the whole ctrl, alt, and (windows/apple) key split. Windows chose to use Ctrl for a lot of GUI shortcuts, even though in the terminal days, Ctrl already was used for a lot of different shortcuts. Ctrl-C for example was never copy at a terminal, it was break execution. Apple used a 3rd modifier key to avoid trampling on terminal commands, while Microsoft only added a third modifier key in Windows 95. Because of it's late entrance into the GUI world, it's never done much beyond trivial tasks, where as the entire Mac OS GUI is build around Apple-blah shortcuts.

http://tinyurl.com/2xymvp is a good read on this topic. It's a shame how fragmented this got, as unification at this point is nearly difficult without one side redefining a lot of things and causing a lot of programs to break.

David Alison said...

@Tom: Wow man, great link and a very interesting read. Here's a clickable link that goes direct:

How Apple Keyboards Lost a Logo

Thanks Tom!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tip! i'm a new mac user and was also lamenting my favorite lost pc key.

ibisgirl said...

I was looking up the file delete key strokes from Finder on the MAC. The key strokes are "command", not sure how to get the command symbol and also what I think is the either a delete or backspace key.

If the key combination they are looking for is delete, that didn't work for me so I assume it's wrong.

I thought perhaps it was a backspace, which I am yet to find.

Would like to easily be able to delete a file with keystrokes.

Suggestions and help are much appreciated!

Thanks... another new MAC user!

subsymi

David Alison said...

@subsymi: On a standard Apple keyboard the key to the left of the space bar is the Command key. It is also sometimes referred to as the Apple key and depending on the age of your Mac may be labeled with one or more of the following:

command



To delete a file in the Finder by using the keyboard first select the file then hold that Command key and hit the "delete" button, which is to the right of the + / = key on standard US keyboards.

I'm not sure if the keys are labeled in the same way or reside in the same position on non-US keyboards.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, David! I almost regretted converting to Mac when I didn't find the backspace key but your note saved me. Keep posting about other differences between PC and Mac.

Paul said...

Thanks David!

You've saved me much time and heartache.

flowermama said...

Exactly what I needed. Thanks!

flowermama said...

exactly what I needed

Layla said...

thank you thank you thank you! I'm on week of of my Mac after 20 years of PC use. I love it but missed that key the most!

Gillian said...

Thanks so much! I was SOOOO missing that key!

Anonymous said...

You just made me a very happy MAC user.

Chan_syafruddin said...

Thanks so much..its really annoying when you miss one of the frequent use of key...

Angi~Mistress of Mayhem said...

another thankful Mac newbie!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot ! I am a mac user two weeks old... and i have been missing that back space. This blog is a find. Thanks David.

Leena

T.B. said...

God Bless You! That was driving me crazy and I've only been a Mac user for 2 days. It's the only thing that I couldn't figure out... but knew someone else probably had!!!

David Alison said...

@T.B.: No problem, that's why I wrote a lot of this down. If you go through the archive on the left you'll find lots of the challenges I encountered right after I made my switch, starting with my first blog post. Hope it helps!

Jane said...

Hey, thanks for the helpful info! I just got a new iMac and couldn't figure out how to delete forward. I picked up a lot of other useful info here as well!

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of Apple is amazing in itself but its failure to recognise that its this attitude that sent it broke the first time will ultimately result in a repeat of history. Why not use the standard keyboard? Why not end the war with Flash? Why not just get the company out of the way of the customer and stop attempting to be 'mother'.
Philip

Ginger said...

My teenager thinks I am just OCD, but she doesn't understand. I have 20 or so years experience on a Windows PC and about 4 days on a Mac. There are some things that I just have to have and being able to without living my life making left turns to go right... Thank you so much for the "shortcuts" to that which I have become accustomed.

David Alison said...

@Ginger: Glad this blog post helped! I have a couple of other posts that may help you get past the adjustment period (just check the archives on the left of this blog). You can also check out Dan's excellent guide to the Mac keyboard shortcuts.

Happy said...

Thanks for the great tips... the other thing I haven't figured out is... when I have a bunch of files to select, on pc, I would select first file then hold down my shift key and select last file to highlight all files in between so in the case I wanted to delete a large quantity of files, I wouldn't have to delete each one... how do you do this on a mac?

David Alison said...

@Happy: That selection model works the same on a Mac, though it requires that you either be in List or Column view (not icon view). Select the first file with your pointer, hold down the shift key and click another file in the Finder and all the files in between those two points will be selected.

You can also select individual files by holding Command down while clicking files.

If you are using icon view, then you'll need to click and drag to make a selection. Personally I always view the finder in List view - much easier to sort that way.

Hope this helps...

Anonymous said...

You just saved me so much frustration you can't believe it. Thanks!!

I own an iMac and purchased the extended keyboard just so I could get both keys.

Who knew there was a simple fix. I don't think the Apple store employees knew this either.

Anonymous said...

There is a God! Well, maybe an Apple God, and you are HIM!! Thank you for saving me years more aggravation by having to constantly go back over something and delete rather than having a Backspace key - Amazing how something so simple can cause me so much JOY!! I've lost years of no Backspace Key and now, I've found it. Amazing! THANK YOU!!!!

Anonymous said...

On a late 2008 15" unibody, the Fn+arrows don't seem to do anything - (Fn+delete works!); However, Command+arrows work exactly as Ctrl+arrows in windows (including the Ctrl+Shift+arrows for selection).

cladbe said...

My life is now complete I can back and forward delete. Thanks.

Cory T.. said...

THANK YOU!!! I love my Mac but the lack of forward-delete was really bothering me. I had tried some of the usual suspects (command, option, control) + the delete button, with no avail. Yay, happy day :)