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I really love my Mac, but I hate how it destroys my muscle memory from the Windows keyboard I use at work. I want to remap the modifier keys to be as "Windows-keyboard-like" as possible.

I was wondering if it was possible to change the keys that open the command-tab box, and also remap the control-tab key combo.

Since I switched Control and Command keys, command-tab box opens with control-tab. Cycling through tabs is now done with command-tab. Is it possible to cycle through tabs with control-tab and open the command-tab box with option-tab?

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Use Karabiner Elements:

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⌥⇥ is already used for inserting tabs in text fields, entering outline mode in TextEdit, and focusing elements in Safari.

Adding this to private.xml would change ⌘⇥ to ⌃⇥ and ⇧⌘⇥ to ⌃⇧⇥:

<autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::TAB, VK_COMMAND | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::TAB, ModifierFlag::CONTROL_L</autogen>
<autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::TAB, VK_SHIFT | VK_COMMAND | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::TAB, ModifierFlag::CONTROL_L, ModifierFlag::SHIFT_L</autogen>

You can change the shortcuts of menu bar items from System Preferences:

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  • btw the link is dead
    – John D
    Jul 20 at 21:34
  • I tried this app and uninstalled it immediately. Here is why I think no one should use this app: 1. It intercepts your keyboard strokes. Even though it is open-source, you never know. 2. It asks you to allow permission to modify system extensions. 3. Once installed it locks itself. This means you cannot remove it by clicking on "Move to bin". 4. You need to click on uninstall button in the app itself. Then it again asks for password. If you have touchID enabled you can't use it, it forces you to enter password manually. (this was not the case when installing it!) Aug 29 at 10:17
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When I first got a Mac, I tried to do this, too. It doesn't work, because there isn't a one-to-one correspondence; that is, the Option key doesn't always correspond to the Alt key.

When I was in college, we still used mechanical typewriters. I had two typewriters, one for each language I used. After a while, I had no difficulty switching between the two even though the layout was different.

The best thing to do is just get used to the Mac. You'll develop bilingual muscle memory.

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  • 12
    I've been working on MAC for 7 months now (9 hours a day). After work I'm using Linux and I still can't get my muscle memory to switch so easily. How long has it took for you to be comfortable with both keyboard layouts?
    – Sel
    Nov 27 '15 at 9:48
  • I've worked on both Macs and Windows boxes a lot, and I have to say that the Mac keystrokes are simply much more ergonomic and easy to type with the ⌘ character than on Windows with ⌃. It's really worth spending a little time to adapt to the Mac. Control is positioned for your pinky, while Command is positioned for your thumb, which is stronger and faster and doesn't prevent you from using the normal keys with your pinky. It's really a _vastly_ superior design.
    – iconoclast
    Apr 26 '18 at 18:26
  • @iconoclast I'm having real trouble adapting. Do you put your thumb under your index finger when typing e.g. Ctrl+C?
    – Mohan
    Aug 25 '18 at 20:55
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    @Mohan: I assume you meant command-C? (If not, then I don't understand the question.) If you start with the 4 fingers of your left hand on the home keys A - F and your thumb on space, you move your index finger down from F to C, and your thumb over from space to . If that feels awkward, you can use the on the right side of the keyboard with your right thumb instead. (I think using both hands is probably better, but the one-handed approach is such an ingrained habit for me I don't even bother trying to do it the "right" way.)
    – iconoclast
    Aug 26 '18 at 19:42
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    @Ken Getting used to something entirely different isn't that hard. The problem comes in when it's mostly the same and you still use Linux after work every day + Windows for gaming on the weekends. Your muscle memory simply doesn't adapt because there's no context switch. 9 months in and I still haven't adapted. Feb 24 '20 at 5:01
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Since the answers in this thread is now a bit old and KeyRemap4MacBook doesn't exist anymore, I will give you an update that works:

  • Get Karabiner Elements
    • Go to the Preferences, Tab "Complex Modifications"
    • Add rule, Import more from the internet
    • On the website that opens search for "Exchange Command+Tab (generally 'cycle through applications') and Control+Tab (generally 'cycle through tabs')", Install
    • Back in Karabiner, you will see the imported rule, enable it

But as some others have pointed out, if you're planning on switching to Mac for good, it might be a better idea to go through an initial frustrating learning phase, as you will build new muscle memory, that works for your mac, without loosing the one for Windows, as you probably have different keyboards, the different haptic will help with that.

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  • I tried this app and uninstalled it immediately. Here is why I think no one should use this app: 1. It intercepts your keyboard strokes. Even though it is open-source, you never know. 2. It asks you to allow permission to modify system extensions. 3. Once installed it locks itself. This means you cannot remove it by clicking on "Move to bin". 4. You need to click on uninstall button in the app itself. Then it again asks for password. If you have touchID enabled you can't use it, it forces you to enter password manually. (this was not the case when installing it!) Aug 29 at 10:21
  • @greenlantern thank you for pointing out your concerns, to me they seemed kind of obvious. You can't modify keyboard input without intercepting them. And this has to happen at a very low level, meaning you cannot just drag and drop an app to the recycle bin and think it magically removes your system extensions. And about the password upon removal but not when installing, did you notice that is a very standard case? You can drag and drop Apps in your Application folder, but when you delete it, your password is required. I'm not saying I totally agree with this, it just an Apple policy. Aug 31 at 9:26
  • other thirdparty tools like Rectangle, Copyless etc. also add extra functionality by intercepting keystrokes. They don't require manually entering password on uninstall. Sep 2 at 5:06
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I think this is exactly what you are looking for: https://alt-tab-macos.netlify.app/

The app called "Alt-Tab" (Mac OS) will mimic what happens on Windows when you hit the keys ALT and TAB, i.e. it will display an overview of opened applications as tiles, and allow you to switch between them.

ps: Very old post, I know, but this may be useful for many even today ;)

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  • Please read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. You should provide at least a link, some additional information about the software itself, and how it can be used to solve the problem in the question.
    – DavidPostill
    Jun 1 at 20:42

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