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Tips on how to remap a keyboard in macOS

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Say you’re a Mac person who simply obtained a flowery new keyboard, but it surely has a Home windows structure. Otherwise you need to use the identical keyboard with each Home windows and Mac machines. Otherwise you’ve gotten used to a selected structure, and now your muscle reminiscence is all unsuitable.

The largest variations between Macs and Home windows PCs are within the backside row modifier keys. Home windows computer systems have Ctrl, Win, and Alt, whereas Macs have Management, Possibility, and Command. macOS mechanically maps the Alt to Possibility and Win to Command. However Home windows makes use of the Management key for many of the shortcuts that Macs use the Command key for, which suggests you must bear in mind to repeat / paste utilizing your pinkie on one laptop and utilizing your index finger on one other. Who desires that?

You might attempt to rewire your mind — and there’s one thing to be stated for neuroplasticity — or you possibly can remap your keyboard so the modifiers are the place your fingers need them to be. 

In case you have a fancy mechanical keyboard, it would include software program to let you remap the keys at the hardware level. Or your keyboard may need a Mac / Home windows change that flips the modifier positions. However you possibly can remap any keyboard, together with the one in your MacBook, with a few free macOS instruments. 

Tips on how to remap modifier keys in macOS Ventura or Monterey

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macOS enables you to reassign sure modifier keys to different modifiers. It’s restricted however efficient for making a Home windows keyboard play good.

If you happen to simply need to put the modifier keys the place your fingers anticipate them to be, you are able to do that inside macOS. 

If you happen to’re utilizing macOS Ventura:

  • Open System Settings, scroll to Keyboard, and choose Keyboard Shortcuts… 
  • Hit Modifier Keys on the backside of the left menu pane. 
  • Choose your keyboard from the dropdown menu. 

If you happen to’re utilizing macOS Monterey:

  • Open System Preferences and choose Keyboard
  • Hit the Modifier Keys … button on the decrease proper 
  • Choose your keyboard from the dropdown menu. 

Right here you possibly can swap the areas of Caps Lock, Management, Possibility, Command, and Operate (or Globe) keys. On my MacBook’s built-in keyboard, I take advantage of this to place the Command key the place Caps Lock often goes since that’s the place I put it on my different keyboards. On my exterior keyboard, I’ve already modified Caps Lock to Management within the firmware, so I take advantage of this software to swap Management and Command, which places Command on the Caps Lock key on that keyboard, too. 

Sure, that is bizarre. However not as bizarre as dedicating an enormous key on the house row to Caps Lock. 

Remap your complete keyboard in macOS utilizing Karabiner Components

Screenshot of the Simple Modifications tab of Karabiner Elements

To swap the positions of two keys in Karabiner Components, you’ll want two guidelines.

For extra advanced modifications or to remap different keys, you should use a free program referred to as Karabiner Elements. Karabiner can assign nearly any keycode to any key, in addition to carry out extra advanced modifications. I take advantage of it to swap the Backspace and backslash keys on my MacBook’s inner keyboard to match my exterior keyboard and swap Command and Management on my exterior keyboard in lieu of the built-in software. 

Karabiner can do far more than simply swap key positions, although. You may change the features of the operate keys, assign hotkeys to launch particular packages or ship a number of keycodes with one key — turning Caps Lock into Cmd + Management + Possibility + Shift, for instance. You can also make keys do one factor when tapped and one other when held, use the keyboard to manage the mouse cursor, and extra. And you’ll assign completely different behaviors to completely different keyboards. 

Screenshot of the “Complex Modifications” tab of Karabiner Elements

Karabiner helps advanced remapping and comes with a listing of helpful user-generated modifications.

The best approach to fiddle with advanced modifications utilizing Karabiner is to download a few that other users have submitted. It’s also possible to write your personal in a JSON file, however that’s means exterior the scope of this text. Even the web GUI that was constructed to make it simpler just isn’t precisely newbie pleasant. 

One phrase of warning: ensure you don’t double-dip. I couldn’t work out why my Command and Management keys weren’t swapped till I noticed that I had arrange the identical swap in each macOS and Karabiner Components. To paraphrase Mitch Hedberg: I remapped a remap; it was again to regular. 

I’ve barely scratched the floor of Karabiner Components myself. Although my choice remains to be for keyboards the place you are able to do all the above in firmware, Karabiner works on any {old} keyboard, and that’s why it’s nice. 

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