Command and Option are getting reversed

I sent off an email about this annoying issue to the RealVNC mailing list, and they told me that I should be complaining here instead. Here is the email conversation with RealVNC so far:


It sounds like OSXvnc has the two keysyms the wrong way around in its
keyboard-handling code. Have you tried contacting the OSXvnc developers to
report the problem?


Wez @ RealVNC Ltd.

-----Original Message-----
Subject: Command (i.e. Windows-Key) and Option (i.e. Alt) are
getting reversed

Hi – I’m trying to use the RealVNC client on a Windoze XP computer to
talk to an OS X Mac running an OSXvnc server. Everything works great,
except for one thing: the Command (i.e. Windows) and Option (i.e. Alt)
keys are getting reversed. I.e., I have to press the Windows key for
the Mac to see a press of the Alt key, and I have to press the Alt key
for the Mac to see a press of the Windows key. As you can
imagine, this
is quite annoying, as my fingers have to do different things
whether I’m
using the Mac in person or remotely.

Is there any way that I can fix this incorrect behavior?




In this particular situation there is no perfect solution, there is no Apple Command key or Apple Option key on a Windows keyboard, what’s more, the Windows Keys and the Mac Keys are both being mapped into X Windows Terminology, so there really is no single correct interpretation. You could just as easily say RealVNC is “wrong” in the keycodes it’s client is sending.

We have chosen to map the Windows ALT key to the Mac’s Command key and the Windows “Logo” Key to the Mac’s Option Key (sometimes called Alt). This most closely replicates the physical placement of the keys on a standard US-101 keyboard. We chose physical placement over label names because most people type by feel rather than by reading the keys.

We recognize that this isn’t ideal for everyone but if we switched it now many more people would believe we had “broken” it than “fixed” it.

At this time the key mapping is hardcoded into the application. In the future we hope to expose the keyboard loading into a file which can be modified for international users or people, such as yourself, who want to remap the modifier keys.

Okay, well I hope you will provide an option for reversing the two keys soon, as the issue is causing my hands no end of grief.

You should know that the Mac itself does the opposite mapping, as I have a PC keyboard plugged into my Macintosh, and it interprets the Windows key as the Command key and the Alt key as the Option key – the reverse of what OSXVnc does. I should think that you would want to be consistent with the way that Apple does things so that things work the same remotely and locally. To do otherwise doesn’t really make sense to me, despite the fact that some people may have gotten used to having things be backwards. (I don’t really care if I have to suddenly switch from one mapping to another, as long as I can have the mapping the same everywhere, because I can’t comfortably change mappings several times a day!)


P.S. Using an Apple keyboard with my Macintosh is not an option as I require a Kinesis Contour ergonomic keyboard as a remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome.

P.P.S. If you can tell me how to tell OS X to interpret the PC keyboard differently, so that my keyboards at home and at work will behave the same, then that might also do the job, but I worry then about having to reconfigure X, etc., and who knows what endless regress I might end up in.

P.P.P.S. It should be said that in all other respects, OSXvnc works like a charm, and so I am happy with it. (Though the TightVNC client hangs fairly often when used with it, I don’t know if the problem is with TightVNC or with OSXvnc. TightVNC doesn’t seem to send either the Command or Option keys, though, so that makes it pretty difficult to use with OSXvnc anyway.)

Well it’s not as simple as Apple having picked whichever keyboard you happen to be using.

For example, I’m using a Logitech Keyboard and when physically connected to my laptop it’s exactly the opposite of what you describe, the keys even have the appropriate Apple labelling painted on them matching our OSXvnc mapping. I’m not sure if that depends on the physical wiring of the keyboard or which keyboard layout Mac OS X chooses to map it into or what.

Unfortunately the keyboard management in OS X doesn’t give you any options to modify or even pick what layout you want, it seems to pick something and go with it.

As a final point of illustration Apple’s very own Remote Desktop server has chosen the same keyboard mapping that we have when interpretting key events from Windows PC’s over VNC so in my view we have chosen the more compliant route, although I’m sure there are additional counter-examples for the other way.

Ironically, I was working on the modifiable keyboard layout this very afternoon, so I’ll get back to it and hopefully have something available in the near future :smiley:

For example, I’m using a Logitech Keyboard and when physically connected to my laptop it’s exactly the opposite of what you describe

Coincidentally, I was just reading about that keyboard today, and it’s specifically designed to work on either a PC or a Mac, is it not? I think, then, that it arranges to do it’s own funky thing.

I just tried plugging in several other PC-only keyboards that were lying around into my Mac and all of them ended up with Windows being Command and Alt being Option.

I know that they say that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but my fingers, unfortunately, have very small minds indeed.

In any case, thanks for considering putting in a feature to reverse these keys sometime soon. My hurting fingers will thank you even more!