Where the Mac Control (Ctrl) Key Is on Any Keyboard

Where the Mac Control (Ctrl) Key Is on Any Keyboard

Read about doing a “Control-click”? Curious what the Control key does on a Mac? Find out here where the Mac Control (Ctrl) key is on any keyboard (Mac, PC, Unix) and what you can do with it.

First, a Scent of Chlorine in the Pool

The whiff of chlorine you sense in the pool—is probably not chlorine.

That chlorine used for sanitation does practically not smell. If it gets in touch with urea, though (from, e.g., skin), it reacts to trichloramine with its typically pungent scent.

One way to get rid of the smell, of course, is to remove urea from the equation. That’s one reason showering before heading for a chlorinated pool is commendable: it washes off most of the urea.

Now that we’ve controlled scents in pools, how about taking control of a Mac’s keyboard?

Where the Mac Control (Ctrl) Key Is on Any Keyboard

To find the Control key for use in macOS keyboard shortcuts on your physical keyboard, look for any of the following.

Mac Keyboard

On a Mac keyboard, you will typically see the Control key labeled with both its name (or an abbreviation) and a symbol.

  • Captions: control, ctrl, kntrl
  • Symbol: ^, *

The Control key is typically the third key to the left of the Space bar; it is to the left of the Option key.
Exception: On the Japanese keyboard layout, the Control key is above the left Shift key.

The Control key on a US Mac keyboard

Windows Keyboard

On a Windows keyboard, the key that works as the Control key if the keyboard is connected to a Mac has an even more diverse appearance. Typically, it is only labeled with its name.

  • Captions: Control, Ctrl, Ctl
  • Symbol: ^

On a PC keyboard, the Control key is usually the third key to the left of the Space bar; it is to the left of the Windows key.
Exception: Some keyboards switch the places of the Fn and the Ctrl key, making Ctrl the leftmost key in the bottom row.
Unix: On Unix keyboards, the Ctrl key is often found above the left Shift key.

Overview

KeyboardCaptionsSymbols
Maccontrol
ctrl
kntrl

PCControl
Ctrl
Ctl
Strg
UnixCtrl
Ctl
^

Where the Mac Control (Ctrl) Key Is on Any Keyboard: FAQ

Find the Mac Command (Cmd) Key on Any Keyboard
Where the Mac Option Key Is on Any Keyboard

Is “Control” translated on international keyboards?

No. On Mac keyboards, “control” is generally either written in full or abbreviated (depending on key size), mot translated.

On PC keyboards, Ctrl is also typically not translated with a few exceptions—among them German keyboards with Strg (“Steuerung”) in its place.

What is the function of the Control key?

The Control key has several functions, though it is not a primary function key on a Mac.

It is primarily used to

Can I make a different key on my keyboard the Control key?

Yes.

To change the mapping of your function keys with macOS:

  1. Select  (Apple logo) | System Preferences… from the menu bar.
  2. Open the Keyboard section.
  3. Go to the Keyboard tab.
  4. Click Modifier Keys….
  5. Choose ^ Control for the modifier key you want to use in place of the Control key.
  6. Click OK.

(Where the Mac Control (Ctrl) key is on any keyboard tested with macOS Monterey 12.4 and Big Sur 11.5; updated June 2022)

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