From Mac to Ubuntu: Cmd vs. Ctrl

It’s the little things. So far, switching from Mac to Ubuntu has been relatively painless; most of the apps I use every day are cross-platform. There is, however, one thing that’s been bugging me a lot: Ctrl.

You see, for the past 9 years my fingers have learnt a few basic truths:
Command + Tab switches between apps.
Command + C copies, regardless of the app I’m using (even in Terminal).
Command + V pastes, and so on and so on. X, T, R, L, W, Q, A, S are all keys I used dozens of times every day in combination with the Cmd key.
Control is only used for a few selected keyboard shortcuts in specific apps.
Control is super important in Terminal; it gives me a ton of useful functionality in programs like nano, my editor of choice (yeah yeah, I know, I should use vim).

This is all great for me, and I don’t have to think about it anymore; muscle memory takes care of everything.

That is, until I decided to switch to another OS for a month. On Ubuntu it’s all different:

  • To switch between apps, you have to use Alt + Tab.
  • There is no Command key. Instead I got a “Super key” that triggers different things depending on the key you combine it with.
  • All the Cmd combinations above have been replaced with Control + Something.
  • To avoid conflicts with terminal programs, to copy or paste in the terminal you have to use Ctrl + Shift + C or V.



After a few Google searches, I started playing with xmodmap, a little utility that allows me to switch keys in Ubuntu. It’s a good start, but I would need a lot more:

  • I would happily get rid of the Super Key and make it a Control key instead, but this won’t solve my Alt + Tab issue.
  • I would really need to get back to being able to use Cmd + C in the terminal.

Does anyone have any tips for me? Thank you!

2 replies on “From Mac to Ubuntu: Cmd vs. Ctrl”