Before you think I’m a total Apple hardware freak (ok, so I am), my motivation for getting the keyboard was twofold. The first is that I’ve had enough repetitive hand problems in the past that I’m always on the lookout for new keyboards that might help. One thing I’ve found has helped my poor wrists is to use laptop keyboards. There have been numerous times in the past where I’ve had to live on my laptop for several weeks just so I could grasp the dinner fork and martini glass at the end of the day. The Apple keyboard is really a laptop keyboard so I knew it would be kind to my hands. The second reason I wanted the Apple keyboard is because I really hate looking at all the crud that falls into a standard keyboard over time. If you’ve ever taken off a key or two on a standard keyboard, you can’t tell me you haven’t recoiled in horror. To continue in the grossology vein, studies indicate that a toilet is cleaner than your keyboard.
The Apple Keyboard works out of the box with Vista. However, this is a Macintosh keyboard after all so it’s missing a few Windows specific keys such as print screen, multimedia control, and the control, alt/option, and windows/command keys are in different places. I lived with the default keyboard for a while, but didn’t relish the prospect of manually figuring out the scan codes to put them in to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout key Scancode Map value, which is a REG_BINARY field.
Fortunately, Randy Santi, came through with his great SharpKeys program that takes all the pain out of setting up all the scan codes. It’s a tool that Microsoft should have included with Windows in the first place! In SharpKeys, click the Add button to bring up the SharpKeys: Add New Mapping dialog. There you can remap the key on the left side of the dialog to a new purpose on the right side. Even better, you can click the Type Key button and just press the key. In the following screen shot, I pressed the F16 key to see what scan code the keyboard produced:
What I did was map the following keys:
The key, Unknown 0x006A is F19, so I can capture these screen shots with Kenny Kerr’s Window Clippings.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t swap the Windows key and the alt keys around. Personally, I like the Windows (and Applications) keys next to the space bar. However, if you do want to map those keys, you won’t be able to type the key in the SharpKeys’ Type Key dialog as Windows intercepts that key. To get the alt keys mapped (Left Alt (00_38), Right Alt (E0_38)), you’ll need to manually chose them in the SharpKeys: Add New Key Mapping dialog.
One small problem I did find is that the fn key on the Apple keyboard, which I wanted to map to Insert, does not have a scan code recognized by Windows. I guess I could write a quick keyboard filter driver to get the real fn key value and turn it into something else. However, I almost never use the Insert key so I’ll leave the drive fun to someone else. On the good news side, though, the neat feature where the caps lock key does not turn on with very short-timed keystrokes, which is something done on the keyboard itself, obviously works in Vista. As a fairly poor typist, I really like that Apple put this trick in the keyboard.
Once you set up your keyboard settings with SharpKeys, log out so you can get them applied. If you were lusting after an Apple keyboard, you now have no excuse.