Function Key As Globe Or Augmenting Key On Mac?

Now that iPad OS is using the Globe key in place of a Function key I got thinking…

… On Mac is there a way to use the Function key in a similar way to Cmd or Ctrl or Option? So as another augmenting key.

I would expect to have to use something like Karabiner Elements, or maybe Keyboard Maestro, or Possible BTT.

It’s been awhile since I tried it, but my recollection is that Fn does not get picked up as a modifier enough to be used this way.

I think it would almost require Apple to offer a “remap Fn as Globe key” function to make Fn really useful

Looks like this is built into macOS.


One option: if you have a QMK keyboard, you can remap the keys on the keyboard’s firmware level.

Of course, then you’d need to find some modifier or combination of modifiers that isn’t already easily available elsewhere on your keyboard.

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Right. But then I don’t effectively get another augmented key.

Ah, I understand now.
You could probably use Karabiner-Elements and make it a Hyper key, which is Ctrl+Shift+Opt+Cmd.
Not a new key, but more convenient that pressing four modifiers.
This is how I have my caps lock mapped.


I use Karabiner Elements a lot: it’s one of the two programs without which Macs feel naked for me (the other being Keyboard Maestro). The Hyper key trick is really useful, isn’t it?

I don’t remap the Fn key because I use the function keys as functions keys, so I need Fn to get at the Brightness / Volume etc keys. I also need Caps Lock for something more important, so after some experimentation I’ve settled on using F12 as the Hyper Key, which works very well with a series of KeyBoard Maestro palettes. My full KE mappings:

  • Caps Lock → Control when held, Escape when tapped (I use Vim…)
  • Return → Control when held, Return when tapped
  • Both Shift Lock keys together → Caps Lock
  • Right Cmd swapped with Right Opt (so one of each is on the strongest thumb position)
  • F12 + F9 = a palette of my most common KM Global Shortcuts
  • F12 + w = KM Window manipulation palette
  • F12 + t = KM text manipulation palette etc

These two programs are invaluable.


Yes, I have Caps Lock mapped - via Karabiner Elements - to that hyper key combo.

Actually I want Fn to do its usual stuff.

But eg Fn+A could do something new. That’s what I was trying to achieve. It might well be keyboard-dependent.

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I understand and agree it would be useful! I haven’t got round to FN+letter yet, but it’s only a matter of time… I’d vaguely thought of mapping Fn + the vim motion keys (there are some user-contributed packages on the KE forum), but I haven’t got around to it yet as I’ve got into the habit of using Emacs navigation keys (the Mac supplied ones and a slightly modified DefaultKeybind.dict.) instead and they work well.

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Use BTT . Here is how I have it mapped -

I use a Kinesis Advantage 2 Keyboard and using KE, I’ve mapped the Tab key to fn when it is combined with a letter -