Map Mac Parallels "Delete" key to "Backspace"

pd6fm_half_macbookParallels is a software product that allows users to run Windows 7 on their Mac computer. I must say, it works pretty darn well. The only real annoyance I have encountered thus far is how Parallels maps the “Delete” key. This makes the Delete and Backspace keys confusing. The Apple Mac “Delete” key and the Windows “Backspace” key are located in the same (approximate) location on the keyboard; and both keys even function the same on a Windows computer compared to a Mac computer. They delete the characters to the left of the cursor.

However, for those who use Parallels to host a virtual Windows 7 machine on their Mac computer, the Mac keyboard “Delete” key deletes the characters to the right of the cursor, which was driving me crazy. The user must press fn+Delete to perform the standard Windows backspace to delete the characters to the left. This may only be a problem for people using a Mac notebook keyboard or an external Mac wireless keyboard. I expect this is not a problem for those who use an external Windows keyboard on their Mac – assuming those people even exist.

How to Re-Map the Delete Key in Parallels

Here are the steps to change (re-map) the “Delete” key to the standard Windows “Backspace” key on your Windows 7 machine running in Parallels. I prefer this because it provides a consistent action for the “Delete” key – it always deletes the character to the left of the cursor regardless of whether I’m using Windows (named “backspace”) or Mac OS (named “delete”).

1)  Open the Parallels Preferences. You can find the Preference menu option by holding the “option/alt” button and clicking the red Parallels icon ‘||‘ at the top of your Mac desktop.

2)  Press the “+” button at the bottom of the shortcuts list to add a new ‘shortcut’.

3)  In the “From” key section, press the Mac “Delete” key. The word Delete will appear.

4)  In the “To” key section, select the “Backspace” key in the drop down box.

Now your “Delete” key will perform like a Windows Backspace key, deleting the characters to the left. Remember, you can also press fn+Delete to perform the standard Windows Delete key to delete the characters to the right.

Apple Terminology and Keys

(deletes the characters to the left of the cursor)

Forward Delete
(deletes the characters to the right of the cursor)


Apple Mac Keyboard


Windows Keyboard (typical layout)


7 thoughts on “Map Mac Parallels "Delete" key to "Backspace"

  1. Hi Mark, thanks for this post, helped me a lot! Actually, I wanted the oposite. I was missing the “Delete” key in Paralles when working with Outlook. Simple one key deleting is key there, so I changed Backspace to Delete :). Cheers!

  2. Mark, Thanks for reminding me of the ability to remap shortcuts in the VM. Prefs > Keyboard. I’ve been struggling to get my MBP 2011 keyboard to act right in XP. I’ve tried a myriad of keyboard remappers on both the osX and XP side to no avail yet.

    Basically, the Option key, DOES not send as Alt in Parallels… I Use Alt, All the time in osX so the change can’t be a permanent (System Prefs) style remap. It needs to be recognized as Alt only in the VM.

    The shortcuts you write about cannot remap the Alt key itself, right?

    I understand this isn’t a tech support forum, no worries if you can’t reply, just going on 2 weeks trying to find some real solution.


  3. Thank you! I did the reverse function to,o, mapping delete to delete, my copy of parallels came with backspace as default. Thank you for the information.

  4. Personally, I prefer to keep the backspace key doing what it is supposed to do, but to map Alt-Backspace to delete. So I can use the right hand Alt to do it, so it can be done with just the right hand easily without looking. But this doesn’t work in OSX, which is annoying as I use both side by side and want consistence. The next best is to use Ctrl-D as delete.

  5. Hi, Just to say thanks very much for such a useful post, I was at my wits end trying to use a windows program that required the ‘delete’ key. You sure did live out your moto of simplicity, your instructions were simplicity themselves. Thanks again!

  6. Outstanding solution, this has been my one frustration with parallels otherwise I love it. Thank you again for this simple and elegant solution.

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