I recently had to swap from an Apple keyboard to a Dell keyboard here at work on my iMac, and I had a problem with where the Windows and Alt keys are located on the Dell keyboard. By default, Mac OS X treats the Windows key as the Command key, and the Alt key as the Alt key. However, this is backwards from where the keys are located on the Apple keyboard, as shown in the picture above.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to fix this.

  • Open up System Preferences, and select the Keyboard preference pane.

  • Open the Modifier Keys dialog box:
  • Here’s what the defaults look like, with the settings you’re concerned about highlighted in red:
  • What you have to do for Windows keyboards is switch the Command and Alt values. If this doesn’t work, play around with it and you will have it figured out eventually. This is what mine ended up being (typical Dell keyboard):

Your hardware Alt key now works as your Command key, and your hardware Windows key now works as your Alt key. Which makes them in the same positions as they were on the Mac keyboard.

Thanks to the comments on this hint on Mac OS X Hints.