Learn how to Use and Customise a Third-Occasion Keyboard on Your Mac

Apple offers two types of external keyboards for your Mac: the Magic keyboard and the Magic keyboard with a numeric keypad. Despite their names, none is particularly exciting. You may want to set up a third-party keyboard instead.


There are many excellent third-party keyboards available, and all of them should be connected to your Mac via USB or Bluetooth. But even if your external keyboard can be connected easily, you'll need to adjust and reallocate the layout to make sure all the keys work the way you want them to.

Here's everything you need to know about using third-party keyboards on Mac, including setup for maximum productivity.

Use a third-party keyboard with your Mac

Modern Macs support almost all USB and Bluetooth devices. Therefore, any USB or Bluetooth keyboard should be compatible – at least for basic functions such as entering standard keys. Special media buttons may not work, but we'll show you some apps that you can use to fix them later.

Advanced features on more technical keyboards are less likely to work on your Mac. Nevertheless, the situation with the well-known manufacturers is improving. For example, the Razer Synapse software, which enables macro recording on Razer keyboards

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is available for Mac these days.

For the most part, you can use any third-party keyboard you'll find anywhere in the house, and there's a good chance it will work with your Mac. If you want to buy a new keyboard instead, check out the best alternatives to the Magic keyboard

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for macOS-focused options.

Connect a third-party keyboard to your Mac

To connect a USB keyboard, just plug it in and macOS will recognize it. If that doesn't work, visit the manufacturer's website to look for specific drivers that you need to install. Make sure you get the Mac driver and restart your computer after installation.

For Bluetooth keyboards, navigate to System settings> Bluetooth on your Mac. Then turn on the keyboard and follow the manufacturer's instructions to put it in discovery mode. Once it appears on your Mac, click Pair Button to connect it. Again, you may need to download special drivers from the manufacturer if this doesn't work immediately.

Customize the basic keyboard settings on your Mac

You can customize your external keyboard and reassign certain keys by going to System Settings> Keyboard on your Mac. This is especially important when using a Windows keyboard to make sure the keys behave the way you want them to.

click Change keyboard type So that your Mac recognizes what type of keyboard you are using: Razer, Steelseries, Logitech, etc. Follow the keyboard wizard that appears and ask you to press different keys. Based on these results, your Mac will set up the default settings for your keyboard layout.

click Modifier keys to rearrange the buttons that are combined with others to perform certain actions. The modifier keys on an Apple keyboard read from left to right control, possibility, Cmd Non-Apple keyboards usually read control, Windows, Old.

By default, macOS registers the Windows key as Cmd and the Alt key as an option. As a result, you may want to remap the modifier keys for your external keyboard to match Apple's keyboard layout and maintain the order of these modifier keys. This is especially useful when you are confused between Apple and third-party keyboards.

Check the box for Use the F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys If you have a third-party keyboard that shares media keys with function keys.

You may also want to change that Repeat key (how quickly a key repeats when held down) and the Delay until repetition (how long does it take for the key repeat to start) Settings. However, the default setting is fine for most users.

Customize your keyboard layout on a Mac

If you are using a non-traditional keyboard layout like Dvorak or Colemak or you have a foreign language keyboard, you can set this up in the Input sources Section. Click the plus sign Add (+) to add as many layouts as you want. You can't define your own layouts, but Apple offers many layouts in dozens of languages.

If you frequently switch between keyboard layouts, activate the option Show input menu in the menu bar Check box. This creates a menu bar icon that shows the currently used layout. You can also click it to quickly switch to other layouts you set up.

Use carabiners for further keyboard adjustments on Mac

If you need to tweak your keyboard even further than the system settings allow, you may want to install carabiners. Since Karabiner is open source software released under the Public Domain license, use is absolutely free.

Carabiner lets you remap all the keys on your external keyboard so your Mac sees them as different keys. For example if you are not using Caps lockYou could use carabiners to make it a second Clear Left hand key. You can use carabiners to map each key to a different key, including modifiers, arrows, and media keys.

Most third-party keyboards, with the exception of Razer keyboards, do not have that Fn Key you normally find on a Mac. With carabiners, however, you can reassign another key to use it as Fn. You can also remap your function keys to use them as media keys like a standard Apple keyboard.

Download: Carabiner for macOS (free)

Use BetterTouchTool to create keystroke sequences

If carabiners are not enough for your customization needs, check out the excellent Mac productivity app BetterTouchTool

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instead. Although this app is best known for creating custom trackpad gestures, BetterTouchTool also offers numerous keyboard customization options.

With BetterTouchTool, you can trigger actions at the system level using keyboard shortcuts or key sequences. These actions include toggling Do Not Disturb, centering windows, changing brightness, sleeping the display, and more.

You can also set up new keyboard shortcuts or keystroke sequences to trigger other key combinations and sequences. For example, if you'd rather tap twice Cmd The text copy button allows you to set up this sequence to trigger that Cmd + C. Abbreviation.

The best thing is that you can create keyboard shortcuts and keystroke sequences either for global use in all apps or only when certain apps are in focus.

BetterTouchTool is available as a free 45-day trial. If you like it, buy a $ 8.50 two-year license or a $ 20.50 lifetime license.

Download: BetterTouchTool for macOS ($ 8.50, free trial available)

Make the most of your keyboard with custom shortcuts

Apple's official keyboard has many supporters. However, with an alternative from third-party providers like Razer, you get a lot more features and better mechanical keys. Since you can customize a third-party keyboard for your Mac using the above tools, there's no reason to spend a lot of money on a Magic keyboard unless you really like the design.

Regardless of which external keyboard you choose, you don't have to settle for the standard keyboard shortcuts on your Mac. Here's how to create custom Mac keyboard shortcuts

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to increase your productivity no matter what keyboard you use.

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