External keyboards, Microsoft keyboards, the Ergonomic 4000, and more.
For a while now I have been using the wonderful Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 with my MacBook Pro. I would also like to share out a few tips that are not very obvious when dealing with other keyboards on Mac.
The Microsoft Natural 4000 Ergonomic Keyboard
- Microsoft, amazingly enough, provides software that smoothly integrates with OS X, its Preferences, and even iTunes to allow your keyboard’ Play/Pause, Volume Up, Volume Down, Mute, and Calculator buttons, among others, to work as expected!
- The Microsoft software that comes with this keyboard automitically rearranges the modifier keys (Ctrl, Alt, Option, Cmd, Windows) to have the same layout as your Mac’s normal keyboard.
- The 4000 has a handy Document Zoom slider in the middle of the keyboard which works in a lot off applications such as Microsoft Word and Opera
- Interestingly enough, the Microsoft 4000 includes an extra row aboved my beloved numpad: =, (, ), and Backspace. They are handy for Excel/spreadsheets and number crunching.
External Keyboards & Your Mac
- Scroll Lock reduces screen brightness, and Pause/Break increases screen brightness.
- If your keyboard has volume control (as does the 4000), the previous tip means that you don’t loose your MacBook Pro’s brightness and volume controls when using an external keyboard
- Through the Preferences pane for Keyboard, Apple makes it very easy to switch Alt/Windows buttons to be in the same order as your Command/Option(alt) buttons. (The Microsoft software, however, makes this unnecessary; it automitically does so just for the external keyboard.)
- Using an inexpensive, short dongle (converting plug) on PS/2 keyboards does not let you use the device when plugged into a USB port! This only works if the keyboard was designed to work that way, and in that case, it will come with its own dongle. More expensive ($16+) converters should work.
- Keyboard layouts differ; you may want to double-check that the shape of things like the Enter button is the same as they are on your Mac. The Microsoft devices are perfectly compatible as far as I can tell.
- Curiously, sometimes the Delete button (not Backspace) does not invoke a Delete command and you must still use Command-Backspace.
- This is barely relevant, but Adobe Photoshop (on both Windows and OS X) assigns differnt actions to Return (a/k/a Enter) and (Numpad) Enter; (Numpad) Enter “confirms changes” when editing type, whereas Return/Enter adds a new line of text.
Updated August 1, 2007.