I don't want to use the feature in Mac Keyboard that replace Option+a with å. (For example, imagine I want to quickly press the button Repl&ace All in NetBeans) How can I have Mac stop do such thing?

Edited: My question arose out of this situation: I use Replace functionality in NetBeans. When I'm at the replace text box, I'm typing something. When I'm done, I invoke the Replace All button by press Option+A in the keyboard. Netbeans understand it as it perform replace all features. However, right before that, the å character (as a result of pressing Option+A) is appended to the replacement, make such process incorrect. I don't need to type a special character right now, so I want to stop it. Wouldn't it be more sensible if such feature can be turned on/off with another shortcut key?

  • Experienced with both Windows and Ubuntu, I find Mac have very nasty philosophy: No cut files using keyboard, no default keyboard shortcut for maximize windows. Alt+Tab is nasty when an application have multiple windows. Jun 11, 2010 at 9:46
  • Isn't rel&ace cmd A not option A?
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 11, 2010 at 10:37
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    No cut files using keyboard? The ability to potentially lose a file by overwriting the clipboard is a good thing? It's easy to add a shortcut to maximize windows. What do you mean alt-tab is nasty? Do you mean command-tab? Command-` cycles through open windows of an application, command-tab cycles through open applications. This is much better than the windows way.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 11, 2010 at 22:21
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    (In Windows, when you "cut" a file it doesn't go anywhere until you "paste" it. If you overwrite the clipboard, nothing happens to the file.)
    – Bavi_H
    Jun 12, 2010 at 0:38
  • +1 For Cmd+`, I didn't know about it before. Thx. But wait, why don't mac just set the default keyboard for maximize windows instead of "easy to add"? We have one 20 iMac here and you expect us to go around and "easy-to-add" whenever we need to work on another iMac? Jun 14, 2010 at 11:42

3 Answers 3


The alt key on the Macintosh is primarily used for international character keyboard mapping. This is a much more sane and reasonable approach to extended characters than windows alt-numpad tricks. Because of this, it is not typically used alone as a keyboard shortcut key (except with Function keys), although it is used in some shortcuts in conjunction with command and control.

Keyboard remapping can be done with a utility called Ukelele:


However, this won't help you, since you are expecting the alt key to act like a shortcut (command/control) key.

There is a free utility that lets you swap around modifier keys, if their placement is unfamiliar to you:


Here's the Netbeans article explaining MacOS X keyboard shortcuts, and how to adjust either the Netbeans shortcuts or the Mac OSX shortcuts:


EDIT: Solution for button shortcuts in netbeans dialog boxes.

OK, so the Netbeans IDE is a brain-dead cross-platform java application. Ensure you don't have a text field highlighted before using the alt-key button shortcuts. This can be quickly accomplished by hitting tab or shifttab.

  • 2
    I have looked at your suggested solutions but none is what I expected. I have modified the question so that you can understand my problem more clear. Jun 15, 2010 at 2:58
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    Also, open menu with Ctrl+F2? Ick. I'm all for using keyboard shortcuts, but opening, navigating, and selecting menus with the keyboard is backwards. Here's a trick that's better: command-? to open help search menu, start typing the menu command you're searching for, down arrow to select it.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 16, 2010 at 16:35
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    @ghoppe, I think your assumption of NetBeans being "a brain-dead cross-platform java application" is a flawed judgement and incorrect. Use of the OPTION key IS legal as a shortcut, and is throughout OSX, such as OPTION+COMMAND+C to copy style. A better reasoning would be to state that OPTION is not to be used exclusively for shortcuts.
    – Brett Ryan
    Mar 3, 2011 at 11:10
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    @Brett I'm sorry if I wasn't clear, but that was my implication, wasn't it? Of course you can use OPTION with a button shortcut. You can use SHIFT with a shortcut too. But does that make it "legal as a shortcut?" NO. It's legal as a shortcut modifier, just like shift. No one would say SHIFT is legal as a shortcut.
    – ghoppe
    Mar 3, 2011 at 17:16
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    If this was an ; it is another one of their stupidest decision to forcefully innovate. Only have CMD + CTRL for shortcuts on Macbooks is stupid because there's a single CTRL so that means you cannot press more than half of the key while holding CTRL. Ergonomic keyboard finger placement dictates to use two hand for shortcut presses when they're on different halfs hence we have two of modifier keys. Otherwise keyboard manufacturers would save money not including those extra keys. I hate ignorant decision like this which are rampant in this company. They're also too proud to admit they're wrong!
    – user14492
    Sep 25, 2020 at 10:30

I have a much better solution than creating own custom keyboards: just use the "Unicode Hex Input" input source. It's the regular QWERTY minus all this weird stuff on the ⌥ button.

Not sure which OS version it is available from though. If you have any information about this, feel free to edit it into the answer.

  • But Option+A could be the start of a hex value input (like Option+A+A+A+A yields ꪪ), so are you sure that pressing Option+A is also propagated to whatever program has focus? (Also note that this also disables the press-and-hold functionality to show accented characters for the character that is long-pressed, along with the great option to just press a number to select one. But indeed, this seems quite a simple solution if one does not want all that, and if it works.)
    – Arjan
    Oct 4, 2019 at 10:53
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    @Arjan Definitely propagates to at least my IDE (Android Studio/IntelliJ IDEA). I don't need any accented characters in my code for obvious reasons, should be the same for most other developers. If you use accented characters elsewhere, then yeah, apparently you'd have to set up a separate input source for that.
    – Malcolm
    Oct 4, 2019 at 11:12
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    Note that this unfortunately disables the option+← and option+→ word-delimited keyboard navigation shortcuts, for some reason.
    – j6m8
    Apr 20, 2020 at 19:00
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    @Malcolm macOS is increasingly painful with every new release... You may be able to override this in your ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict, using this cheatsheet. But yeah, that's absurd. Curious to hear what karabiner config you've used; I can't find option+arrow configs...
    – j6m8
    Apr 21, 2020 at 22:19
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    @j6m8 I've put my config on GitHub. Maybe it can help you or someone else.
    – Malcolm
    Apr 22, 2020 at 17:16

The question also appears here on StackOverflow https://stackoverflow.com/questions/11876485/how-to-disable-typing-special-characters-when-pressing-option-key-in-mac-os-x

On that question, I found Dan's answer to go to wordherd.com and generate a keyboard map without the [option] key shortcuts to be the quickest and easiest solution. https://stackoverflow.com/a/16019737/266531

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