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Backspace vs. Delete

The Backspace and Delete keys are the same, right?

Yes. No. Sometimes.

In general, the Backspace key on a Windows keyboard does the same thing as the Delete key on a Mac: erases the character directly to the left of the cursor. However, many Windows keyboards have a Backspace key and a Delete key, and some Mac keyboards have two Delete keys.

Hmmm.

Here’s the breakdown:

On a Windows keyboard

  • Backspace: erases the character directly to the left of the cursor
  • Delete: erases the character directly to the right of the cursor

On a Mac keyboard

  • Delete: erases the character directly to the left of the cursor.
  • To erase the character directly to the right of the cursor, hold down the Function (fn) key while pressing the Delete key.
  • If you have the extended Mac keyboard with the separate numeric keypad, you have a regular Delete key for erasing characters to the left of the cursor, and another Delete key (with an “x” symbol next to it) for erasing characters to the right of the cursor without having to hold down the Function key.

Of course, in either system you can always highlight the offending character and press any key to erase it. However, this technique is best for erasing long words, lines, or paragraphs. For a few letters, learn to use your Backspace and/or Delete keys.