Map the Apple key to Ctrl in Windows Boot Camp

Heavy computer users are familiar with keyboard shortcuts such as ctrl-c to “copy” and ctrl-v to “paste.” If you’re a Mac user and you switch back and forth from Windows to OS X often you’ve probably felt some pain using keyboard shortcuts.

For some silly reason Apple decided to default standard keyboard shortcuts to use the Apple key (also called the Command key) instead of the ctrl key. That means to copy text in Windows you press ctrl-c, but to copy text in OS X you press Apple-c. RIDICULOUS!

Never the less, I’ve gotten use to working with the default OS X keyboard layout, and this has made switching back and forth from Windows Boot Camp to OS X incredibly confusing. I’ve started pressing ctrl when I should be pressing the Apple key and vice versa.

Luckily I’ve discovered a nifty tool that will update your Windows registry to make the Apple key act like ctrl in Windows. Here’s the simple step by step guide.

  1. Download and install SharpKeys.
  2. Run SharpKeys and click the “Add” button.
  3. In the “From key” column click “Type Key” and press the Apple key. Click “OK.”
  4. In the “To key” column click “Type Key” and press your left ctrl key. Click “OK.”
  5. Click “OK” to dismiss the key mapping menu.
  6. Click “Write to Registry” and reboot your Mac.

Alternatively, you can set your ctrl key to behave like the Apple key in OS X by going Settings -> Keyboard -> Modifier Keys : then swap “Control” and “Command” key functions in the drop down, and click “OK.”

Now you can have some hot-key sanity when switching back and forth from Windows Boot Camp to OS X.

12 thoughts on “Map the Apple key to Ctrl in Windows Boot Camp

  1. Locked my bootcamp windows with “command l” for the last time in Dominican Joe’s… #1 result on Google and recognized you from @conjunctured. Thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks! Worked out really good to be honost. Only thing I realised though is that my ctrl key doesn’t work as the windows key, but I’ll just use my right cmd key in windows boot camp.

  3. sweeeeet thanks so much for this. it does work in windows 7. i was a bit worried cuz this post was done in 2010 and the software was last updated in 2006 but it’s working so far.

  4. I had already known about this and did it months ago.. recently reformatted my Macbook pro and put windows 7 on it again… went to do this key remap with sharpkeys and it worked fine. I did a windows update a few days ago and suddenly my control and command keys are only functioning as the Windows key and have lost the ability to CTRL-C/P/V ect. So just warning others, if this happens the only way to my knowledge to fix it is to either reinstall windows or get an unchanged keyboard registry from another windows 7 machine and replace it.

  5. @Brent

    According to the FAQ you can boot into safe mode and delete HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout\[Scancode Map]. As I modify keyboard mappings this entry grows larger. Haven’t tried it myself.

  6. Question, does anyone know the code (if there is one) for the start screen in windows 8? Normally the command key takes you there, but now i want the control key to do this.

    Thanks in advance,


  7. Thank you so much for this post and for tek’s comment providing an updated link to the page containing the latest version of Sharpkeys. (I accidentally downloaded the 2.11 in the original post until I saw version 3.5 following tek’s link.) The process was super simple and now Control-C/X/V works just like windows while in bootcamp! I’m using Windows 7.

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