Keyboard Shortcuts in Many Web and Electron Apps Do Not Work Correctly With Non-ANSI Keyboard Layouts

Speaking of bad keyboard shortcuts, here’s Thomas Kainrad (via Michael Tsai) explaining how web apps from big-name tech companies are not fully compatible with his German keyboard layout:

This is most annoying when the most important keyboard shortcuts are inaccessible. A very common shortcut is / for accessing search functionality. Unfortunately, there is no /-key on most international layouts. Adding modifiers to produce this key with your layout rarely helps. For example, on my German layout, / is produced via Shift+7. Most web applications will ignore this. Similarly painful is when Electron apps use [ and ] for navigating backwards and forwards.


I want to be clear, broken keyboard shortcuts are not a law of nature. It is possible to implement web application shortcuts so that they can be typed with any layout. It shouldn’t be an excuse that even some of the most popular apps do not get it right.

Kainrad focuses on web applications partly because of how popular they are and partly because of their often flawed interpretation of key presses.

I do not understand why so many Electron apps, in particular, have invented their own shortcuts instead of doing their best to copy the system defaults. Most MacOS shortcuts are a combination of modifier keys and letters of the alphabet. But Apple is not perfect, either: the German version of that page indicates that the shortcut for showing and hiding the status bar in Finder windows, for example, is Command+/.

As I was digging around on this topic, I found a bunch of threads from German and Swiss German and French and Croatian Mac users who found some of the universal keyboard shortcuts difficult or impossible to type without fully switching layouts. But I also found an excellent eight year old post from Daniel Hoelbling-Inzko with a keyboard layout file that can be used with Ukelele to remap keys on the fly. I have not tried it myself but I am hopeful it might help those with non-U.S. keyboards switch layouts more easily.