Say you’re like me and run two computers: Mac and Windows. I run them through a KVM switch with a Mac keyboard but maybe you’ve got a shiny new Mac running Boot Camp and Windows XP. Have you tried using your Mac keyboard under Windows and found the keys just don’t match up? Here’s an easy, and free, solution.
The Mac keyboard has the following keys on either side of the spacebar:
A Windows keyboard has the following keys:
Mac users are accustomed to pressing [Apple] and another key to perform an action such as [Apple]+[S] to Save a document or [Apple]+[P] to Print. Windows users are accustomed to pressing the [Alt] key such as [Alt]+[F] to reach the File menu.
The problem is that each keyboard is wired differently and doesn’t map to the same keys. When using Windows with a Mac keyboard the [Apple] key is actually the [Windows] key and the [Option] key is the [Alt] key. It didn’t take me long to realize the discomfort (and impracticality) of reaching for the [Option/Alt] key when it seems the [Apple] key would make a better [Alt] key. What’s more is the Windows “context menu” key has no Mac equivalent.
Windows doesn’t provide an easy method to change the keyboard layout and remap keys so we’ll use a Windows freeware tool called KeyTweak to do so. Open KeyTweak and reassign the keys such that:
- [left-Option] maps to [Windows]
- [left-Apple] maps to [left-Alt]
- [right-Apple] maps to [right-Alt]
- [right-Option] maps to [Context]
This is slightly different than a normal Windows keyboard because we’re not mapping a right-side [Windows] key…there simply isn’t enough right-side keys on a Mac keyboard.
KeyTweak will give you an ominous warning if you remap both [Alt] keys because doing it incorrectly will make it impossible/difficult to login to Windows. Don’t worry, do it correctly, and it’ll be OK. The list of remapped keys in KeyTweak should read like this (based on using a Macally USB keyboard but they should all be the same):
- Key #59 remapped to ‘Left Alt’ [default=’Left Windows’]
- Key #60 remapped to ‘Left Windows’ [default=’Left Alt’]
- Key #63 remapped to ‘Right Alt’ [default=’Right Windows’]
- Key #62 remapped to ‘Context Menu’ [default=’Right Alt’]
Reboot Windows for the changes to take effect and you’ll never need to reach awkwardly for the [Option/Alt] key again.