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I'm used to a Mac keyboard and that means my finger expect to find the shortcut key to the left of the spacebar. How can I turn the Windows key--command () key on a Mac keyboard) into the Control key and vice versa?

5 Answers 5

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Quite simply, use this AutoHotKey script. (Tutorial on how to create a script here)

RCtrl::RWin
RWin::RCtrl
LCtrl::LWin
LWin::LCtrl

Works for all but CtrlAltDel.

A workaround for allowing simultaneous CtrlAlt, is to map left to right, and right to left (as opposed to left-left, right-right) i.e..

LAlt::RCtrl
RAlt::LCtrl
RCtrl::LAlt
LCtrl::RAlt

Disclaimer: this answer may no longer be relevant in modern Windows 10/11 versions as it was written originally for Windows 7.

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  • bottom section does not work anymore, gives an error of duplicate keys, i tested this on windows 8.1 on a macbook air and ctrl alt del works normally without a script Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 4:36
  • I just used LWin:LCtrl, as I don't use RWin for Control much. Nice suggestion. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 22:06
  • On my Lenovo Ideapad 110 W10 Xmas 2017 special, the uparrow key is where every other shift key in the world is located. So I swapped them using AutoHotKey: pastebin.com/eEYb7kT1. I had to start the script with 'Run as Administrator' so that programs started as administrator (say, cmd.exe) would see the remapping. Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 19:44
14

Warning

This answer was first posted on 22/4/2017. Please verify that everything in it is still applicable, and make corrections to this answer, as needed.

SharpKeys

SharpKeys is a utility that manages a Registry key that allows Windows to remap one key to any other key.

Apply Key Swap

Swap the Ctrland Alt keys through a two step process. Using SharpKeys, map:

  1. Left Alt (00_38) to Left Ctrl (00_1D)
  2. Left Ctrl (00_1D) to Left Alt (00_38)

Presumably you can do similar things to a right Alt and a right Ctrl.

I successfully applied the two step remapping to Windows 10 as of 2017/04/21.

Remove Key Swap

By choosing Delete All and following that up with Write to Registry in SharpKeys I was able to delete the registry key that SharpKeys created in the first place. You could also manually delete the relevant registry key using regedit.

Background

How to Disable Caps Lock Key in Windows 7, 8, 10, or Vista provides a nice explanation of the registry key that SharpKeys modifies (creates?). I've posted my registry key FYI.

After SharpKeys ran, my registry key:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout\Scancode Map

Contained:

00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 03 00 00 00 1D 00 38 00 38 00 1D 00 00 00 00 00

A separate SuperUser question provides a bit of extra context: How to remap Right-Win and Right-Alt keyboard keys and Mehper C. Palavuzlar's answer to this question pointed me in the right direction. Rather than edit his question, I thought it more appropriate to post my answer as a separate answer.

Editorial comment

It does feel nice to be able to do cut, copy and paste with the thumb and Alt rather than the awkward pinky reach required with the Ctrl key in Windows. But, even though I grew up a Mac user (25 years) and would dearly love to be able to use my thumb (a natural position) to activate short cuts in Windows, I think it'll be too confusing to do a whole-sale swap of Ctrl and Alt for me. For example, Command/Alt-Tab are in the same spot so remapping Alt-Tab to Ctrl-Tab just won't work. Too bad that Apple made the right decision (thumb-based short cuts) and Microsoft went with the not-so-logical "industry standard" of its day. But, I guess "industry standard" is how we ended up typing with QWERTY and all its inglorious variants in the first place.

PS Windows still has three command keys?! Apple's solution of one modifier key for special letters and one for short cuts was a sensible design choice and allowed for easy access to less common (in English) but still important symbols and diacrits (e.g. °, ´, ¸, ˆ, ¨). In Windows you've got Ctrl, Alt and Windows all doing essentially the same thing and, I find that the vast majority of users rarely, if ever use the Alt or Windows shortcuts. Plus Alt gets especially confusing since it's sometimes a method to enter non-standard characters with the keypad or with AltGr but it's also a short-cut modifier at times). But, I digress... I've inspired myself to search for or ask an actual question.

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  • Docs has been updated and explicitly says that one can swap keys "Things that SharpKeys will do... Allow you to swap two keys with each other - e.g. you can swap Left Windows with Left Control and vice versa". I can also confirm this, have swapped my Win <> Alt keys since I'm using a Mac-keyboard for Windows. Commented Jan 28, 2023 at 0:08
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Use PowerToys from Microsoft, it makes remapping any keyboard keys for windows 11 easier.

enter image description here

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  • For this it seems that powerToys needs to stay open. Works though. Thanks Commented Apr 16 at 15:56
5

Take a look at this AutoHotkey script that pretty much brings the mac keyboard experience to Windows.

https://github.com/stroebjo/autohotkey-windows-mac-keyboard

This AutoHotkey configuration file makes usual keyboard shortcuts work with an Apple keyboard on Windows. It has been testet with a german keyboard layout, but should work under different layouts as well.

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  • This solution seems the better so far. Simple swapping Keys do not provide a consistent experience on some layout (like Italian keywords) because some Alt+keys stops to work. With the suggested script it works fair better so far.
    – daitangio
    Commented Jul 4, 2022 at 10:04
3

How-to Geek has a nice solution for your request:

Map Any Key to Any Key on Windows 7 / XP / Vista

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  • 1
    This won't work as SharpKeys (which that page tells you to install) won't let you swap two keys!
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 5:35

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