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Monday, June 20, 2016

Using Windows Keyboard with OS X



If you’ve acquired a Macintosh, congratulations and welcome to the club. You’ll want to put your own personal stamp on it and this is an article to show how to use an external Windows keyboard with that Mac.

Apple does sell keyboards and many people like to buy them so that everything matches esthetically. Electrically, though, not much distinguishes an Apple keyboard you buy at the Apple Store from a generic Windows keyboard you buy at Frys or Best Buy or even at the 24-hour CVS or Rite-Aid’s office supply aisle. The keyboard use the same USB connectors to plug into the computer and they use the same key codes to tell the operating system that you’ve pressed a particular letter, number or symbol. 

One nice feature that I’ve found is that the media control keys lying above the function keys for play/pause, go back a track, go forward a track, increase  volume, decrease volume. work just fine with iTunes 12.  A nice added feature. 

Now to the main questions:

1. Where did the Command key go? The answer is that the Command key on a Mac keyboard and the Windows key on a PC keyboard serve the same function and use the same key code. If you own a Mac Mini as I do, Apple’s documentation tells you so. 


So you can mentally remember to substitute the Windows key for the Command key.

Windows key


If you prefer to use Apple’s keyboard layout, simply go to the Keyboard Preference Pane in System Preferences


Keyboard PReference pane


click on it, and select Modifier Keys in the lower right-hand corner.

Keyboard preferences with modifier keys highlighted


This panel drops down to show you the four modifier keys. Click on the double-headed arrow at the right-hand end of each box to make a selection from four choices. The choices are the same for each of the modifier keys.



Default Modifer Keys




Your modifier key choices



So to make your Windows keyboard use the same layout for modifier keys as a Mac keyboard, change the Option key to the Command key and the Command key to the Option key. 

Leave the Control key and Caps Lock keys alone. 


Mac keyboard for modifier keys


Why doesn’t my Windows keypad work with my Mac? 


I encountered that problem, too. It drove me crazy. I even substituted an old Mac keyboard with keypad and it still wouldn’t work! What is wrong?

The answer was simple and free. You can’t use Mouse Keys with your keypad and enter numbers from it, too. 

Fine.  So where do I turn off Mouse Keys?!

You go to the Accessibility Preference Pane

Accessibility preference pane icon


click on it, and select Mouse and Trackpad from the window on the left-hand side. You may have to move the window to see Mouse and Trackpad.


Mouse Keys On



Now you see in the illustration above that Mouse Keys is turned on. TURN IT OFF TO USE THE KEYPAD TO ENTER NUMBERS!


Mouse Keys Off


You’ll hear several clicks when you turn Mouse Keys on or off. That verifies your choice. 


I want to give thanks to OS X Daily for this tip here. 


What if I want to further customize my Windows keyboard?


You can customize your Windows keyboard with changes to the Shortcuts.


Keyboard shortcuts and where to change them


 Here you see my shortcuts for the Screenshots. You can see that I changed Copy Picture of Screen to the Clipboard from the standard Control+Shift-Command+3 to just F13. 


F13 is called the Print Screen (PrtScr) key on a Windows keyboard. I wrote up instructions on how to change it her 


That’s all for tonight. Look up the Karabiner app here for further ways to customize your keyboard.


Tom Briant

Editor, Macvalley Blog




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