Owners of a Mac can use almost all keyboards that have been created for Windows PCs, be they USB or Bluetooth. The problem, is that the layout of some keys are different on a Mac keyboard. Specifically, the WINDOWS and ALT keys on a Windows keyboard are replaced by the option/alt and command keys on a Mac keyboard. Incorrect keyboard shortcuts or other unexpected behavior when pressing keys when using a PC keyboard on Mac. In this guide I will show you how to connect Windows keyboard on Mac by remapping some keys that do not correspond between the two different layouts.
As mentioned earlier, a simple solution to this problem is to remap the Windows and ALT keys with the Command and Option/Alt keys. In this way, the layout of the PC keyboard will be identical to that of a keyboard for Mac. If you are an Apple user and you must often use a keyboard designed for Windows on a Mac, the solution that I propose in this guide will greatly improve your experience typing.
Connect Windows keyboard on Mac by remapping the Windows and ALT keys
This trick that allows you to use a Windows keyboard on Mac works the same way on all Windows keyboards with the standard layout of the CTRL / Windows / ALT keys and on all versions of macOS.
- Connect the Windows PC keyboard to your Mac as you normally do, via USB or Bluetooth.
- Open the menu Apple at the top left and select “System Preferences …“
- Click on “Keyboard“.
- Choose the “Keyboard” tab and then click the “Modifier Keys” button in the lower right corner of the preferences panel.
- Choose your PC keyboard from the “Select Keyboard” drop-down menu at the top of the screen to make sure you are changing the correct keyboard connected to your Mac.
- Click the drop-down menu next to “OPTION key” and select “Command”
- Click the drop-down menu next to “COMMAND Button” and select “Option”.
- Now click on “OK” and try the new keyboard keys remapped *
- Once finished, you’ll have a new layout of the Windows PC keyboard keys when used on Mac:
- The WINDOWS key becomes the ALT/OPTION key on Mac OS
- The ALT key becomes the COMMAND key on Mac OS
* NOTE: Some PC keyboards also have the “CNTRL” and “ALT” keys switched, compared to a standard Mac keyboard layout. If applicable, go ahead and change those with the same trick using the Modifier Key menu as described above.
An easy way to confirm that the edit keys have been activated as expected is to issue a keyboard shortcut, such as screen capture (command shift 3) or a window close command (Command + W). It should work as you would expect based on your Mac’s keyboard layout.
Obviously, this will not change the physical appearance of the keyboard, so you’ll have to get used to the appearance of the keys on which one thing is written, but make another one. But if you’re good at typing on the keyboard and never looking at your hands while writing, this should not be a problem.
Basically you are reversing the Windows and ALT keys of the Windows PC keyboard (which become the Command and Option/ALT keys when connected to the Mac), which puts them in line with the Mac keyboard layout and the layout of the Apple keyboard keys. So, the Windows key of the Windows PC keyboard becomes the new ALT/OPTION key on the Mac and the ALT key on the Windows PC keyboard becomes the new COMMAND key on the Mac, just as it would on an Apple keyboard.
For example, here is a Windows PC keyboard with a different keyboard layout than the Apple keyboard layout:
And here’s an Apple keyboard with a different key layout than the Windows PC keyboard:
So you can understand why changing the behavior of the keys when the PC keyboard is connected to the Mac can be useful.
This trick to using the Windows on Mac keyboard should be especially useful for Mac users who have a PC keyboard they want to use. Or because they prefer a particular Windows PC keyboard for one reason or another. And yes, this tip works the same way regardless of the keyboard for Windows PC connected to the Mac and regardless of the operating system of the Mac. With this procedure you can change the keys in any version and with any keyboard.