Oct
21
2010

Where the ### is the hash key on a UK Apple Mac keyboard?

Where is the hash key on a UK Mac? (photo by Roger Browne - CC-BY)

If you want to type the hash character (‘#’, also called ‘pound’ in some parts of the world) on a UK Apple Mac, you can look everywhere on your keyboard and you won’t find the hash symbol. If you have a PC keyboard plugged into your Mac, you can type ‘#’ but it will show up on the screen as something else, usually as the UK pound sterling symbol (‘£’).

In the pre-computer age there was no hash key on a UK typewriter keyboard, but in the computer age the hash character is heavily used. If you use twitter, you’ll frequently want to enter hashtags. If you’re a software developer, you’ll know that many programming languages use the hash symbol to start a comment.

Some United Kingdom Mac users resort to using copy-and-paste to “steal” a hash-character from some other document and drop it into their current work.

But of course there is a way to access hash symbol. The keyboard combination to conjure up the hash symbol is alt-3. Come to think of it, that makes sense. On a US Mac keyboard, shift-3 gives the hash sign and alt-3 gives the pound sterling sign. Apple has just reversed these for the UK, so that shift-3 gives the pound sterling sign and alt-3 gives the hash sign.

For some strange reason, the hash sign is not printed on the keyboard, even though the keyboard shows some other alt-key combinations such as the Euro symbol (‘€’), and also depicts symbols that are much more obscure than the hash sign (for example, ‘§’ and ‘±’).

The alt-key is the key between the control key and the command key. The command key is the one with the funny cloverleaf symbol. The alt-key is also known as the option-key on a Mac. And finally, you can use the left or right alt-key to produce the hash symbol.

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