Is there a reason why some keyboard shortcuts are chosen?

Specifically, ControlZ and ControlY. Sometimes I happen to switch from a QWERTY keyboard to a QWERTZ keyboard. Apart from the time it takes to adapt to the new layout, the most frustrating thing (at least for me) is that the "undo" and "redo" commands are inverted.

Usually shortcuts are chosen based on the first letter of the command (e.g., ControlP for printing). Is it possible that no one has considered this problem in this case?

  • 1
    Well, I assume that the people who made these standards wanted to keep the ctrl commands close together on the keyboard; e.g. ctrl z, x, c, v. When they ran out of space, they used uncommon letters (like, what command starts with a y?) Some keyboards have ctrl-shift-z as redo, keep in mind.
    – Mingle Li
    May 28, 2017 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


It is likely based on the key position of other commonly used actions (cut, copy, paste) on the keyboard.

Likely it all boils down to placement on a QWERTY keyboard.


From there, X and V are just adjacent keys, for Cut and Paste. It's simple to remember where they are, and you'll build up muscle memory if they're close. (You'll do it even if they aren't, but if they're adjacent, it helps.) Eventually, when Mac and Windows word processors (and other applications) started offering Undo as a feature, putting them together still makes a kind of conceptual sense: these are basic document editing features which work the same way across even very different applications ("Undo" is undo in Word, or Adobe Illustrator, for example, even if the content types are wildly different).

Source: Why was 'Z' chosen for the CTRL+Z/CMD+Z shortcut?

It's also close to the control/command key, which makes it easy to use with one hand. Common actions (cut, copy, paste, undo) are used a lot, so it is important to have them close to the control/command key.


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