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How To Use A Windows Keyboard With A Mac

You can use just about any keyboard with your iMac, Macbook, or Mac Mini. While Apple does have its very own branded keyboards, both wired and wireless, it doesn’t restrict you to using them. If you don’t own an Apple keyboard, or you’re stuck using a generic one that’s meant for a Windows PC, it will work just as well. You might need to tell your Mac that you’re using a different keyboard, and it will take a little trial and error to figure out which are the Ctrl and Command keys but that’s about it. Here’s how you an use a Windows keyboard with a Mac.

Identify New Keyboard

Connect your Windows/generic keyboard to your Mac. A generic keyboard, whether it’s wired or wireless will connect with Mac without needing additional software. macOS will automatically ask you to identify the new keyboard you’ve connected however, if it doesn’t you can force it to recognize the new keyboard.

Open System Preferences and select Keyboard. Click the Change Keyboard Type. This will open the keyboard identification window. Follow the on-screen instructions to help macOS recognize your keyboard.

Mac Modifier Keys

On a Windows/generic PC keyboard, the Mac modifier keys are as follows;

Windows/Start key: Command Key

Shift Key: Shift Key

Ctrl Key: Control Key

Alt Key: Option Key

In some very rare cases, the Command and Option keys may be swapped.

Identify Keys

If you have a keyboard that you cannot identify all keys on, you should give Keyboard Tester a try. Visit it on your Mac and tap the keys on your keyboard. Off the bat, this app will detect which keyboard you have. When you tap a key, it will tell you which key you’ve pressed. This is useful if you’re using a generic keyboard or if you’ve enabled a keyboard layout that you don’t recognize or don’t remember adding.

Generic keyboards function perfectly with iMacs and Mac Minis. Mac owners often find that the smaller, compact version of the Apple keyboard is counter-productive and opt to use generic keyboards that have a dedicated Number pad, and Home, End, etc., keys. Apple does make larger keyboards but this is a cheaper option if you don’t feel like spending too much money on hardware.

There’s also a growing market for mechanical keyboards which Apple hasn’t started manufacturing yet. If you like your Mac but want a mechanical keyboard, a keyboard built for a Windows PC might be your only option.

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