If you’re using a UK layout keyboard then one of the things you may notice when you switch to a Mac is that the @ (“at”) button isn’t where you’re used to it being. Where is the @ key on a Mac and what is that key’s purpose? We’ll explore all these answers.
Where is the @ key?
On a UK Windows keyboard, the @ is produced by pressing Shift and then apostrophe, which is on the right-hand side (a couple to the left of the Enter key usually). However, the Mac has switched this around with the quotation marks. So, on a Mac you press the Shift and the number 2 for the @ symbol.
Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of a Windows keyboard with a Mac one…
Why is @ in different place on a Mac?
The reason for this is because Apple maintains the position of this character between US and UK keyboard layouts – if you check a US Windows keyboard you’ll see it’s in the same place as a UK Mac keyboard.
The good news is that fewer and fewer keyboards are differentiating – the days of separate Windows and Mac keyboards are fading. Logitech, for example, sells many of its keyboards with both Mac and Windows options printed on them and Keychron (makers of fine mechanical keyboards) only sells keyboards in ISO format (which happens to adopt the @ sign in the Mac configuration).
What is the @ symbol used for, anyway?
Way before it was stolen to be used for email addresses, the sign was a commercial symbol, meaning at the rate of or at the price of. It was therefore included on typewriters and, hence, computer keyboards. The symbol is now used to separate the parts of an email address and it’s simply known as the ‘at sign’.