Ergonomic Windows Keyboard on Mac OS X

I recently starting fearing the carpal tunnel. A good friend of mine has been suffering through it, so when
my wrists started hurting a couple months ago, I set out to replace my OS X Apple keyboard with an ergonomic one.

The research process was surprisingly painful. Maybe the search terms are too generic? What I came up with was that there are no good ergonomic OS X keyboards. A quick Froogle search reveals a bunch, but they all cost $100-$200 US. Yes, I know your health is important and all that, but if I’m going to drop $200 on a keyboard, it better type itself!

The answer is to get a standard Windows keyboard and then do some clever key mapping. I settled on the Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite, and it’s what I recommend at http:///what.ergonomic.keyboard.shouldiget.com. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available (Yes, I have to update the site) and you have to settle for the newer “multimedia” model. Be sure to get the cheaper one which today is selling for $20.

The next trick, and the thing that at the time I had trouble Googling for, was how to get all (most) of your OS X functionality back.

The best way is to download a little open source utility called <a href=”http://doublecommand.sourceforge.net/”>Double Command</a> that lets you remap your keys.  You install it and it will appear in your System Preferences.  Specifically, I set “Command key acts as option key”, “Option key acts as command key” and “PC style home and end keys”.

So your keys won’t look right, but they’ll be in the same positions on the keyboard as they were before.  So Alt becomes Command and Window becomes Option. Works like a charm!

It’s also pretty easy to map Expose to F10-F12.  You can use PrtScn/SysRq as F13 for Dashboard.  I wasn’t able to get my volume keys mapped properly to F4 and F5.  Leave me a comment if you’ve gotten that working.

Otherwise, you should be good to go!  Enjoy!

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One Response to Ergonomic Windows Keyboard on Mac OS X

  1. Craig says:

    Thank You!

    I just went through the SAME thing you talked about, except I’d just purchased a nice shiny new PC keyboard and trackball to use with my Windoze PC and my Mac Mini.

    I spent about 2 hours surfing the web and finally came across your article. In 10 minutes I was rolling with same settings you used.

    Thanks a ton for the tips!

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