Mac option key: What is the option key on a MacBook?

Apple MacBooks are powerful computers packed with a wide range of features. The Option key is one of the most useful to hand on the keyboard – capable of unlocking all kinds of features hidden on an Apple Mac’s Operating System (OS). Discover the secrets of the Mac keyboard’s option key with

How to find the option key on Mac:

Many Mac users may be wondering how to find the Option key – either the ⌥ key or Alt key, depending on the keyboard layout of your Apple MacBook.

It is not surprising why many new converts to Apple computers may be a confused.

This is because you are unlikely to find a key labelled option on many keyboards sold in the UK for more than a decade.

Option is generally located next to the Ctrl key on the left side of the bottom row.

Apple removed the Option naming convention on non-US Mac keyboards around the time of the processor migration from Motorola/IBM to Intel.


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What does the Option key do?

The Option key performs numerous essential uses on the Apple Mac.

These include selecting boot partition when starting the computer.

Another useful function is the direct printing of diacritical marks such as å, ß, ∂ and µ from the keyboard.

Apple’s reason to remove the option legend on some territories’ keyboards and instead use only the word Alt and the relevant symbol, remains a mystery.

Other hidden features only accessible via the option key:

Finder View Actions: In Finder’s List view, hold Option and click the triangle next to a folder to expand it.

The contents of any subfolders nested inside will also be shown with the MacBook option key.

In Column view, users can also resize all columns in a window by Option-clicking on the column selector.

Menu Bar System Icons: Holding the option key when clicking menu bar system icons also reveals hidden actions.

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For example, option-click the Wi-Fi icon reveals extensive information on the currently connected network.

Repeat this action with the volume icon can change both the audio output device and the input device.

And option-clicking the Time Machine icon allows users to Browse Other Backup Disks.

Option-clicking the Notifications Bar icon can also activate or deactivate it.

Safari Browser: Holding the Option key transforms Clear History into Keep Website Data.

Pressing Option key when clicking a tab’s close button will close all tabs except for that one.

In Safari’s File menu, the Close Tabs option also becomes Close Other Tabs with Option held down.

Preview File Formats: When saving or exporting a file in Preview, option-click the Format dropdown to get access to several more available file types.

Open Preference Panes: If a Mac’s keyboard has icons printed on some of the functions keys, pressing them also perform special features.

Examples include pressing the F11/12 keys with speaker icons to adjust the MacBook’s volume.

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