Are Apple keyboards, with only a delete key, less efficient in making deletions than conventional keyboards with both a backspace and a delete key?

I have been using a Windows desktop at home and my office. Although I have never had a laptop, I have been planning to buy an Apple laptop for use when I travel. However, I recently used an Apple and found its keyboard, in one particular way, to be inferior to the standard keyboards that I have been accustomed to using. Do you agree?

A conventional keyboard has two keys to make deletions. The backspace key deletes characters to the left of the cursor. The delete key deletes characters to the right of the cursor. In contrast, the Apple keyboard has only one key to make deletions. It is the delete key and it deletes characters to the left of the cursor. It appears that if I want to delete characters to the right of the cursor, there is no way to do that directly and simply. Am I correct about that? I must either use a second key or I must first highlight the text and then delete it.

Using a non-Apple conventional keyboard, it is also possible to delete an entire word and one adjacent space in only two strokes by using a combination of the control key and the delete key. The same can be done in the other direction using the control key and the backspace key. How would these two types of deletion most efficiently be done with an Apple keyboard?

The reality seems to be that two keys to delete can operate more efficiently, in more directions, than only one (Apple). Do you agree that the Apple keyboard is less efficient in making deletions than the conventional keyboard when using Word software? What is the best way to get around that inefficiency in a MacBookPro? If there is no way around it, should this discourage me from getting an Apple since I do lots of word processing and deletions?

Does the Apple keyboard have any advantages over the conventional keyboard that I should be aware of?

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26 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    fn + delete = deletes to the right of the cursor.

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  • This is an old question but I wanted to set the record straight. Can't believe I'm wasting my time on this... I'm a software developer, Windows- and Linux-only until about 2 years ago when I got a MacBook Pro and now it's still my favorite personal computer.

    Yes, on the MacBook keyboard, in order to forward-delete you have to press Fn+backspace. This doesn't end up being a big deal, at least to me. I don't type things backwards, so I don't delete them forwards.

    Option+backspace deletes a word, option+arrow keys navigate by words. Same as Ctrl in Windows/Linux.

    Command+backspace deletes a line, command+left/right navigate to beginning/end of line, same as home/end. I haven't missed the home/end keys. Command+up/down go to the top and bottom of the text area, same as ctrl+home/end.

    These shortcuts became muscle memory to me in a matter of days from owning my MacBook, and they don't hinder my usage of PCs at all. Sometimes I come into work (to my Linux box) and the very first time I try to copy something I'll press alt+c, confusing it with command, but it's not like I spend the day mis-typing keyboard shortcuts.

    For what it's worth, I prefer using my thumb for major shortcuts like copy/paste. It's more comfortable than my pinky.

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  • George H from Dayton:

    In order to quickly take screen shots-it will save the image to the desktop:

    cmd-shift-3: screen shot of entire screen
    cmd-control-shift-3: screen shot will save in clipboard
    cmd-shift-4: crosshair will appear and allow you to capture a screen shot of anything on your screen
    cmd-shift-4 then spacebar: allows you to capture just a window on your screen. When the window is blue and cursor turns into a camera, click the screen with your mouse and it will save an image of the window to your desktop.

    (adding control to any of the above keystrokes will save the image to the clipboard)

    Hope that helps.

    Also, there is an app called Grab that comes with all Macs that does the same thing.

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  • The full Apple keyboard (the one with the 10-key pad on the side), NOT the wireless one, DOES have both buttons. And yes, I agree, it is better with two buttons.

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  • So, in summary, (Thanks mostly to Ricky C's answer below and to some experimenting) for those of you coming from PC's who would like to use the same shortcuts you did with a mac, here is how you do them on a mac:

    Backwards delete 1 character at a time: Delete

    Delete 1 word backwards: Option+Delete

    Frontwards Delete 1 character at a time: Fn+Delete

    Frontwards delete 1 word at a time: function+Option+Delete

    Command+Delete: deletes a line

    Command Key acts like the control key on a PC
    (command C = copy, command X = cut, comm. V = paste, comm A = select, comm B = Bold, etc….)

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  • The Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad is a full-size keyboard. It has a backspace key and a delete key. They are in the exact same locations as the backspace and delete keys on Windows keyboards, and they function in the exact same way (deleting characters to the left and right of the cursor, respectively).

    There is one cosmetic difference, though. The 'backspace' key on a Mac keyboard is labeled with the word "delete", and the 'delete' key is labeled with the word "delete" and a tiny arrow pointing to the right, indicating that the key deletes characters to the right of the cursor.

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  • To answer George H’s question about using “Print Screen” on a Mac keyboard: go to System Preferences / Keyboard / Keyboard Shortcuts / Screenshots. Select “Copy picture of screen to the clipboard”. The default keyboard shortcut is Shift/Control/Command/3, but you can change that to any key combination you want.

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  • MacBook keyboards require a fn-delete combination for the "delete-right" functionality. Deleting a whole word requires a double-tap on the trackpad to highlight the word followed by hitting the delete key. Having switched from Windows many years ago, these maneuvers are second nature and non-issues for me. As another poster commented, people can adapt to most things. I have not felt the need to research this, but I would expect there are key-mapping utilities that might offer other options.

    As for whether or not this should discourage you from getting a MacBook, what are the reasons you are considering a MacBook in the first place? Does the delete key issue (in addition to any other negative attributes you come up with) trump all other positive attributes of the MacBook? It is difficult to justify a switch from PC to Mac or vice-versa. My personal feeling is there are other aspects of the switching question that will ultimately have a much bigger impact on your experience than the keyboard.

    I am not a PC expert but I know there is some pretty hardware out there on the PC side. If I were considering a PC/Mac switch (in either direction), the hardware alone would not be enough to push me over to one side or the other. Much of the differences in Windows vs. OS X come down to personal preference. When I am forced to, I use a 4-year old Dell with Win XP at work, so I can't compare OS X with Win 7. But I am completely dependent on the implementation of various features in OS X that make it practical to have 30+ documents and windows open simultaneously across a dozen or more apps at the same time. I don't know what Win 7 offers as answers to Exposé and Spaces. Another big one is the ability to run Windows on the OS X desktop (via VMware Fusion or Parallels). I might actually consider switching the other way if I could run on the Windows desktop the few Mac-only apps that are essential for me.

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  • Before buying a MBP; i was concerned about it too.

    After some googling i found a program KeyRemap4MacBook. It remaps your eject button to a forward delete. Great!

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  • I too am a Windows/Linux/Unix developer, I became an apple fan after buying an iPhone 3 when it came out and followed it by a 13" MacBook pro and a 27" iMac. I like the apple products, mostly because of fit and finish of the products. As for the keyboard, its a matter of getting used to the it and unlearning the PC keyboard. Early on, I found out that apple products are more intuitive than most other products I've used. Just play around with the keyboard and when in doubt, use the control keys along with the main key, chances are you will get the desired response.

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  • I have the new wireless keyboard for my new iMac 27". I definitely agree that it is less efficient than the wireless keyboard I had for my old iMac G5. I can't believe that the designers eliminated the delete key, so one can delete to the right of the cursor. It's a big mis-design (omission, rather)!

    However, I do like the functionality and feel of it. Typing is pure fun with these keys. I hope the corded keyboard is similar in key design and choice of material, because that's what I'm getting to replace the wireless.

    I also have the "miracle" pad, but haven't figured out what to do with it, yet, and I'm currently not using it. I think, the magic mouse makes it redundant.

    I'll see, if I can use the miracle pad in photoshop, as a drawing tool (or am I expecting too much?).

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  • YES!!!

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  • You are SPOT-ON with your dilema! Pain in the toucas! I am constantly annoyed at not having a delete key. I purchased a 3rd part keyboard for mac, and it was great for a little while (and it had a delete key) but then it stopped working. So, I'm headed to the Apple store today to get another keyboard...one with a NUMERIC KEYPAD!! I hope it also has a delete key. I really miss the numeric keypad...didn't realize how much until work recently switched our laptops to a new one that has the keypad. It make a huge difference in my work.

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  • Well if you get the wired keyboard then you still have both the backspace and the delete key, except they are both called the same thing. If you get the wireless keyboard or just the laptop keyboard you can perform the 'delete' (right) function by holding down fn and hitting the normal delete (left). Apple computers are very nice machines to have, and after the time it takes to get used to apple they are really good computers. They are light, powerful, and have an excellent display (it's not all about the pixels), so if you can afford one its well worth the money. ANd if you buy a mac laptop and find after a few weeks you still don't like it, then you can install windows and make it always start up using windows. Look up apple windows bootcamp. They are fantastic keyboards.

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  • You can also highlight a whole word with a double click over it. There is as others have posted in response before me a trick with a mac that substitutes the same function on a PC. Also the extended full apple keyboard with the 9 key at home or work where ever you use the MacbookPro more the difference is unnoticeable, and when on the road for work a bluetooth 9 key pad is small and allows numeral work like entering quantities, dollar values, price adjustments, etc. to be done with ease. I am a contractor and have the small wireless bluetooth 9 key add-on and enter measurements into my construction cad software all the time and I love this product.
    Overall I would also tell you that the intuitive design of Apples Operating Systems is unparalleled and far outweighs any negatives you are describing above. The differences in how you execute a command are just the learning curve any person would encounter when changing OS or software. I said apple's setup is intuitive and by that I mean if you have a set of keys that performs one task in a program chances are the same set of keys performs similar tasks in other software written for apple products. Many of my friends have dismissed my suggestions to buy an apple always saying the main reason is the differences between systems and that It's not the same and the mac doesn't have a button for this function or that task. At the end of the day many of those friends have ended up with Apple computers . When they first get their apple I get that phone call with 20 million questions and I ask have you read your provide product info and in the programs read the help stuff know if they had I wouldn't be getting a call so they say "no". Read the literature, play with it, call with any questions you haven't been able to answer yourself in a week. Half the time I have to call them and when I do the express how happy they are with their Apple and that they answered their own questions easily. INTUITIVE DEFINES APPLE

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  • The apple keyboard is fine. But I did notice something I never saw before. If I want to delete an entire word, I have to press FN/Delete when I highlight it. I never had to do that before. What is FN?

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  • Yes

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  • To simply delete things from the right of the cursor you press function (fn) then the delete key on the Mac. To delete a whole word from the left of the cursor in a non-apple word application (MS Word, PPT, Excel etc.) you press Command + Delete. In apps like Pages, Numbers and Keynote command+delete will delete the whole line but using option+delete will delete the word only. Option+delete will also work in word etc. as well. I believe that the apple keyboard and the PC/conventional keyboard is at the same level. Each have their weaknesses and each have their strengths. For me the apple keyboard is easier to use because of the keys and their style and I don't really like the 'conventional keyboard' but that is just me. Like I said use command+delete or option+delete. There is always a way around things. Do not get discourage by something so small. You could also use the arrow keys ... Advantages for me is that it is just easier to use. It is also very good looking and looks great with the backlight keyboard on!! It also has much more useful function keys (f1, f2, f3 etc.) than a PC keyboard. I hope this helped :) BUY A MAC!!! BUY A MAC!!! hahaha.

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  • In short, yes. I prefer to have both keys but having said that, I would take my apple keyboard over any other I have tried with or without the backspace key because all of the pro's of the Apple keyboard still way outweigh that single, con when compared with the rest of the consumer market.

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  • Actually if you were to buy a separate keyboard just to type with then it also has 2 keys just like the PC's do.

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