How we got the “Command” symbol

Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. macrumors bot

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    #1

    [​IMG]

    Category: History
    Link: How we got the “Command” symbol
    Description:: I was in need of the "command" ⌘ symbol for a top secret project today, and not knowing the proper Unicode combo by heart, I fired up the old character palette to copy it. While there, I noticed that while all the other symbols had the expected names (”Erase to the Left”, “Upwards White Arrow”, etc.) that for some reason, Apple was calling our beloved “Command Symbol” “Place of Interest Sign” instead.

    Posted on MacBytes.com
    Approved by Mudbug
     
  2. macrumors 68020

    brad.c

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    #2
    I learn something interesting yet ultimately useless every day.
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    Galley

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    #3
    Doesn't every self-respecting Mac geek already know the origin of the Command key symbol? ;)
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    Watabou

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    #4
    Interesting. I should be ashamed that I didn't know this fact :p

    Good thing we don't have apples all over the menus though. I like the command key. That's another reason to thank Steve Jobs. hahaha
     
  5. macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #5
    I remember when it used to be "open apple" and "closed apple" keys...
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #6
    I've finally trained myself to start saying "Command+Q" instead of "Apple+Q."

    That wasn't an easy thing to do.
     
  7. macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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  8. macrumors 68000

    zephead

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    #8
    Heh, I'm a little ashamed to admit that I didn't know that. I always thought it came from a "cloverleaf" interchange.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #9
    Aahh... screw the Bowen Knot. :p Screw the Option key, too. Bring back both the Open and Closed Apple keys! :D
     
  10. macrumors G5

    nagromme

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    #10
    Don't get me started on the Option-key symbol. Madness! Why even HAVE a symbol if it's not marked on the keyboard?
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #11
    When I changed to Apple from Windows, donkeys years ago, that was one of the hardest things for me to get used to. The way that all the meta keys had names different from what was printed on the key was really frustrating.

    Even now, when I train people to use the office macs, it's still embarrassing.

    "Yeah, press the Option key to do that. Sorry I know it's not marked on the keyboard. Yeah it says 'Alt' on the key, but it's not actually called Alt."

    "You're looking for the Apple key? Yup it's the key without an apple, but with some strange symbol that I can't really describe in words."

    If Apple were willing to risk ridicule and go for a mouse with only one button in the name of ease of use, why not SORT OUT THE BLOODY META KEYS!

    We've suffered for 20 years. Enough.
     
  12. macrumors 68020

    michael.lauden

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    #12
    wow that's pretty cool! and yeah with the fn, control, option and command keys on my MacBook... it was a little hard to memorize the symbols at first haha
     
  13. macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Actually this is something really odd I have noticed with Apple.

    In Europe, the meta keys on the MacBook (or any Apple keyboard for that matter) are marked, in order; fn, ctrl, alt, . Since I cannot stand the fiddly two-line return key Apple puts on its European keyboards, I always choose the US keyboard on my Apple products (albeit at the expense of the printed £ key but I'm used to it now). The US keyboards actually have the meta key names written on them thus; fn, control, option, command.

    Why Apple does this I always put down to the fact that printing control, option, and command in each language would be fiscally daft when a universal symbol (^, ⌥, ⌘) will suffice.

    Hope that salves your peev a little.
     
  14. macrumors 68020

    winmacguy

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    #14
    I have always done that although when working with people not familiar with the Command key I just say its the Apple logo key plus what ever other key to perform the required command.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    eastercat

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    #15
    I still don't have ^, ⌥, ⌘ memorized. :eek: So I'm glad the American keyboards still have the names.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    Rocketman

  17. macrumors 68040

    shamino

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    #17
    Agreed, but if they are going to print the text on English keyboards, they should put the symbol as well. It is confusing to newbies when a symbol appears in a menu and that symbol doesn't exist on the keyboard.

    WRT Jobs not wanting to use the Apple logo, I always found that amusing. The Apple //c and //e used an Apple logo for this key. Actually two - a hollow "open apple" and a solid "closed apple". Those symbols appeared all over menus on Apple II software - even text-based apps like AppleWorks.

    I guess this is just another Jobs-vs-Woz style thing.
     
  18. macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #18
    Not quite. I have a British macbook (with the £ symbol - I think Euro-land macbooks have the euro mark there instead), and the keys are marked:

    fn, ctrl, (alt / ⌥), (cmd / ⌘)

    The last two keys have both markings. I don't know why Apple bothers to mark 'alt' as I've never seen the word used in their recent documentation - they always call it 'option'.

    Still peeved.

    Doesn't make sense. Apple creates completely different keyboards, layouts and markings for each language it sells to. German, French, Japan, etc, all have radically different keyboard layouts and characters, so why not also print these words in the relevant language? It's a tiny cost on top of l8n and i18n.

    Agreeing on a consistent terminology and symbology would be a start.
     
  19. Guest

    MikeTheC

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    #19
    Yeah, but then, fellow Mac users, one day you see...

    THIS!!!
    [​IMG]

    And then you realize what size cojones Microsoft, BillG and UsedCarSalesmanSteve really have...
     
  20. macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #20
    Is this iceland Rocketman? I came to post that all over iceland the "command" symbol is indeed the "place of interest" sign.

    edit: iceland is the most beautiful place on earth.
     
  21. macrumors 68020

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    #21
    Command over Ctrl is one of the main things that will probably keep me with mac. Command+ letter for everything makes a lot more sense than Ctrl+ for everything. I switched to mac in August 2007 and quickly got used to using command for most keyboard shortcuts. It just makes sense to me, so much that I hate the way Windows does it.
     
  22. Guest

    MikeTheC

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    #22
    And here's the heck of it. What is it you use the Control key for in other operating systems? To send commands!!! So, if you issue commands with a keyboard shortcut, doesn't it follow that the modifier key being used is, in fact, more properly termed a "command" key?

    I dunno, maybe it's just me...
     
  23. macrumors 68020

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    #23
    CMD+Q makes a lot more sense than Alt+F4
    CMD+C/V for Copy/Paste makes a lot more sense than CTRL+C/V for Copy/Paste

    On apple you use your biggest finger (the thumb) to hit the command key on Windows you use your weakest finger (the pinky) to hit the control key.

    It honestly breaks my flow of typing.
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    shamino

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    #24
    For compatibility with apps from other operating systems. On PCs (and most workstations) that key is labeled "Alt". If you launch a PC app (via BootCamp or a virtualization system) or an X11 app, you may see "Alt" in the UI.

    Of course, it still doesn't explain why the symbols used by Mac apps for Ctrl and Option don't appear on US keyboards.
    For most non-trivial apps, you tend to need both anyway. Extra modifier keys are usually not a bad thing, as long as you don't go completely overboard.

    Microsoft has their "Windows" and "menu" keys. Sun has open- and closed-diamond keys, etc.

    And if you're being pedantic, why call the key "option" when it's usually used for typing accent marks and foreign characters. Workstation keyboards usually have a dedicated "compose" key for that.
    FYI, Alt-F4 is not "quit". Alt-F4 is "close the window". This will only quit an app if it's the app's last window. A better analog to Alt-F4 would be CMD-W.
    That's not nearly as annoying as the keys Microsoft/IBM used for these functions before they started mimicking Apple's shortcuts: Ctrl-Ins for copy, Shift-Del for cut, and Shift-Ins for paste.

    It's sort of intuitive, but not nearly as comfortable to type.
     
  25. macrumors regular

    rfruth

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