One of the most common concerns new Mac users have is hardware compatibility. Even users looking for more affordable alternatives to Apple’s accessories end up wondering things like “Can Any Wireless keyboard work with Mac?” Well, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t bring your accessories with your new Mac.
Can Any Wireless Keyboard Work With Mac?
Yes, most wireless keyboards can work with Mac. You will have to tweak a few settings since the Mac keyboard layout is different from that of PCs. Otherwise, if you are already familiar with both keyboard layouts and don’t need to remap, all you have to do is plug in and you are good to go.
The difference between Mac keyboards and others is not that significant. A few keys are labeled differently on the Mac. This might be confusing for people who have been using PCs all their lives, even if only to work. However, getting familiar with this new layout isn’t that hard.
What’s the Difference Between a Mac Keyboard and a PC Keyboard?
There are a few differences between the Mac Keyboard and other types of keyboards that make it slightly difficult to conveniently use any wireless keyboard on a Mac. For example, most Windows Keyboards don’t come with the special-function keys found in Mac keyboards.
However, the difference mainly lies in shortcuts so it is not entirely impossible to use a Windows Keyboard on Mac. These are the most notable differences in these keyboards:
While most shortcuts use the Control Key in Windows, the alternative in macOS is the Command Key (⌘). While some Mac Keyboards also have a Control (Ctrl) key, few people actually use it except as a modifier in combination with other keys.
For instance, in combination with ⌘ Command + 1, it shows Safari bookmarks.
The Alt Key also works differently in Mac and Windows. While the key is highly versatile in PC, most people use it on a Mac Keyboard only on special occasions. On Windows, you can use the Alt key to invoke the F-key functions, change keyboard layout, bring up graphical menus, and modify keys on the numerical keyboard, among other functions.
On Mac’s Magic keyboard, you use the Alt Key for different functions. These include controlling cursor movement in combination with the arrow keys, inserting special characters and modifying other functions using the Command key.
The key used to delete characters to the left of the insertion point in Windows is the Backspace in Windows and Delete in Mac. This should be easy to get used to since the terms are not that confusing.
However, PCs also have another key labeled Delete which is smaller than the Backspace key and is usually on the edge of the keyboard. Unlike the Backspace key, this one deletes characters to the right of the insertion point
The other difference lies in the logos on the respective keyboards. The Windows logo is usually used as a shortcut to open the Start Menu while in Mac, the Apple keyboard uses this key as a modifier for other shortcuts.
How to Use a Windows Keyboard on Mac
There is a simple solution to the confusion brought about by the difference in layout between the Mac and PC keyboards. All you have to do is remap the conflicting keys on Windows to mimic the expectations of the standard Apple modifier key layout.
This will help boost your typing experience when using a PC wireless keyboard on a Mac.
Remap the Windows and ALT Keys
You can remap the Windows and ALT keys to make the PC keyboard more compatible with Mac:
- Connect the wireless PC keyboard to the Mac
- Bring up the Apple Menu and click on “System Preferences” then “Keyboard”
- After opening the “Keyboard” tab click the “Modifier Keys” button
- From the “Select Keyboard” dropdown menu, choose the PC keyboard
- Next, select “Command” from the “OPTION Key” dropdown
- Select “Option” from the “COMMAND Key”
- Click OK and test the remapped keyboard
When you are done remapping, the Windows keyboard will work differently from what you are used to. Specifically, the Windows key will function as an ALT / OPTION key on Mac and the ALT key will function as the COMMAND key on Mac
You can also switch the Control Key and Command key to avoid confusion when using the PC keyboard on Mac. After you are done with the above procedure, you will want to test if the modifier keys were successfully switched. You can do this by trying out some shortcuts.
While this procedure will not change the physical appearance of the keyboard, it helps to make Mac more compatible with non-mac wireless keyboards. The switch will be confusing at first but after using the keyboard for some time, you will begin to get the hang of it.
If you are switching to Mac, you don’t have to worry about buying the expensive Apple Magic Keyboard and ditching your old PC keyboard. You can comfortably use a PC keyboard on Mac after making a few subtle modifications.
The good news is, there are innumerable keyboards on the market which are compatible with Mac, so getting your best pick won’t be too hard.
If your PC keyboard is old, you might have trouble remapping it for Mac. In this case, you can either invest in a Mac keyboard or buy a more compatible PC model.