Windows keyboard on a Mac – how hard can it be?
I am a reasonably new Mac user and quite happy about the Mac environment and OS. A couple of caveats though and in this blog post I am going to talk about using a Windows keyboard on a Macintosh computer.
Why use a Windows keyboard on a Mac you may ask yourself. The reason for me is that I really like the keyboard I am currently using – the Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000. Keyboard preferences are quite individual and this one goes well along with me. I’m also having problems with entering numbers on the first row of a standard keyboard. I need a numeric keyboard to gain speed regarding entering numbers. The keyboard is extremely cheap by the way, I bought mine for about USD20.
Ok, here we go. A sticker on the keyboard box says it’s compatible with Mac OS X.
After some time with the keyboard I have stumbled upon – and solved – three different problems:
- Swedish keyboard layout not working.
- Home and End keys not working like they use to in Windows.
- Keyboard not being correctly recognized leading to wrong keyboard mapping.
Let’s break down these problems one by one.
Swedish keyboard layout
Since I do programming and use the curly brackets a lot I was very confused with these being located on keys that I am not used to. My solution to this was to download Ukelele, a keyboard layout editor software.
Included in Ukelele was a couple of keyboard layouts that I could use out of the box. Amongst them the Logitech Swedish keyboard layout. I simply placed the file ‘LogitechSwedish.keylayout’ in the folder Library/Keyboard Layouts and then went to Settings -> Language & Text -> Input Sources and clicked the new layout Logitech Swedish. Hey presto, curly brackets was in place and everything else seemed fine as well.
Home and end keys not working like they use to in Windows
The Home and End keys did not work as I was used to. I googled this and found a couple of different solutions to the problem. The solution that I went for was to download the DoubleCommand software. With this software you can change how a number of keys work, amongst others turn the ‘home’ and ‘end’ key into PC style Home and End keys.
It is possible that I could have done this with Ukelele as well but I just wanted a fast, simple solution and this solved my problem.
Keyboard not recognized, leading to wrong keyboard mapping
The toughest of my problems. The keyboard worked like a charm until one day something happened. All of a sudden the angle brackets (or greater than and lesser than) symbols had switched places with the paragraph character. The Comfort Curve 2000 was also no longer recognized as an input device.
A couple of hours of trying to find out what was going on led me to this web page. I followed the advice and deleted the /Library/Preferences/com.apple.keyboardtype.plist file and restarted my computer.
The keyboard was once again detected and worked for a while until it all started all over again. I was puzzled. The next day I finally figured out what was wrong.
I use a contour RollerMouse and really like it. But when connected to my Mac, it got recognized as a new keyboard device. Since I did not read the instructions thoroughly enough, regarding the new input device, I somehow thought it was my Microsoft keyboard who once again got detected.
I clicked through the first sequence in the Mac OS X Keyboard Setup Assistant and got told that the input device could not be recognized. I was suggested a JIS (Japanese) keyboard layout but I changed that to ISO (European) which seemed more appropriate. From this point the greater than/paragraph key switch once again was a fact on my Microsoft keyboard.
I have seen a couple of others on the Internet having this problem and as far as I can figure out the solution is:
- Delete the /Library/Preferences/com.apple.keyboardtype.plist file.
- Restart your computer
- Plug in all your USB-devices one at a time and follow the instructions. If one of your devices incorrectly should be detected as a keyboard you can just skip this step. This is what I missed. If you read the start dialogue in the Keyboard Setup Assistant carefully, it tells you you can skip this step if the device is not a keyboard. Skipping this step solved my problems.
So there you go, keyboard problems solved and I am now a happy Mac user with a Windows keyboard working the way I want it to