The apple keyboard has some keys on it with only symbols, no words. Unfortunately to me these symbols are completely meaningless and so it has taken me ages to understand what those keys really do.
Even worse, Apple keyboards are completely inconsistent. For example on the MacBookPro keyboard it says ‘home’, ‘end’ and ‘page’, but on the normal standalone keyboard it used the symbols â†–, â†˜, â‡ž, â‡Ÿ without any words. On some keyboards the word ‘option’ is used and in some case the symbol âŒ¥.
Unfortunately Apple uses these symbols in several places, such as the preferences pane where you control key combinations used for common tasks. This means that setting and using those combinations is trivial if the keyboard has them on the keys, but not otherwise. For example the following symbol âŒ«, appears on the Finder menu as one of the keys used to ‘empty trash’, but it is nowhere to be found on any of my Apple keyboards. I’ll take a guess it is a backspace key.
It also means that you never learn what other functionality you might be affecting since you don’t know how those keys are used. This side-effect learning is normally quite important.
The final problem I had is that there is a key on the apple keyboard with just the ï£¿ symbol and the command symbol âŒ˜. Now I know what the command bit does, but do I have a clue what the Apple symbol is on there for? No chance.
Buried away on the Apple web site, I did manage to find a symbols document which explains most of the symbols, but not all.
The other useful thing that I discovered when trying to work all this out is what Unicode characters can be used to represent these symbols. They may not be the exact ones that Apple use but they seem close enough. So, to finish off, here is a helpful reference that combines the Apple document above with the Unicode code points.
|Character||Unicode code point (hex)||Usage|
|ï£¿||U+F8FF (private use)||No idea.|
I can’t find the Unicode characters for the Apple tab key symbol with the sloping line, but then that only appears on one of my keyboards, on the others the line is vertical. Sigh.
Update: I just came across this earlier article, from an unusual source that sheds some light on the keys I don’t understand. But not much.