I read in some answers about using the "Apple" + "Space bar" keys. Which is the "Apple" key?

Also, I see in my Mac OS X Safari menu bar that to open the download window I can use a 3 key combination. The last of the 3 keys are the Command key (depicted with a clover leaf symbol) and the 'L' key. The first key is the one I don't see anywhere. It is depicted by a symbol that looks to me like an upper case 'X' with most of the forward slash part removed. What key is that? OK, just discovered by trial and error that it must be a symbol for the "option" key. What is that symbol called and why is it not on the keyboard?

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    Found most of the answer myself at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Option_key . I still don't know why they didn't put that symbol on the option key. Seems like it couldn't hurt! – Marnix A. van Ammers Apr 27 '10 at 19:52
  • They don't put ^ on the Ctrl key, so it's not the first instance of this. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 27 '10 at 20:21
  • @Ignacio: There is already a ^ on the keyboard, so having a 2nd one on the control key would be confusing. I still see no reason why Apple doesn't display the option symbol on the option key. – Marnix A. van Ammers Jul 19 '10 at 18:41
  • that ^ is not the same as ⌃... – Arjan Sep 17 '10 at 4:57

Apple's keyboard shortcuts page shows these keys and their symbols.

  • ⌘ command or Apple
  • ⌥ option
  • ⎋ escape
  • ⌃ control
  • For what it's worth, the option key has this logo because it tries to show the taking of one of two paths. Think of it as the top left corner connected to the bottom right corner, instead of the top right corner... if that makes any sense. – Josh Apr 27 '10 at 20:39
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    Thanks. It does help me to think of the symbol as representing the taking of one of two paths. I don't understand why they don't show the symbol on the option key though. It would sure make it easier for folks new to Macs. – Marnix A. van Ammers Apr 27 '10 at 21:38
  • @Josh, others say the ⌥ Option key depicts the pull-out plastic card situated under the Lisa keyboard. – Arjan Sep 17 '10 at 4:52
  • @Marnix, indeed odd that the ⌥ symbol is no longer printed on relatively new keyboards. However, the ⌃ up arrowhead of the Control key has never been printed on the keyboard, but still has always been used in the menus just like the other symbols... – Arjan Sep 17 '10 at 4:55

The command key used to have a "bitten apple" symbol (like Apple's logo) on it. Briefly, it carried both symbols - the bitten apple and the cloverleaf, until the bitten apple was dropped. (Be careful about calling it the apple-key anymore; the trolls living underneath it will pop out in large numbers to remind you that "it's called the Command-Key!")

  • So when I read about the Apple key, they are talking about the command key. Good. What about the option key? Do you know what that symbol is called that refers to the option key? Do you know why that symbol isn't shown on the option key, yet used in the menus to show key combinations for menu items? – Marnix A. van Ammers Apr 27 '10 at 20:22
  • Also (for more of a history lesson) there used to be a solid apple on one of the keys and an apple outline on the other... I think we used to call them open-apple and closed-apple... – Brian Postow Apr 27 '10 at 20:52
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    Also, for completely irrelevant and mostly uninteresting trivia, the command key is sometimes called "fornminne" in swedish, which translates roughly to "ancient monument". This is cause the "cloverleaf" symbol looks exactly like the symbol on our road signs for these monuments. – user32498 Apr 27 '10 at 21:32
  • I was confused about the option key symbol for quite a while, too. No idea what it's called nor why they don't show it on the key. It makes as little sense to me as it apparently does to you. – JRobert Apr 28 '10 at 1:50
  • The "closed-apple" key became the "Option" key while the "open-apple" key became the "Command" key. This is only relevant if you try to use a modern Mac keyboard on an Apple II. – quickthyme Jan 22 '15 at 21:27

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