If you have ever wondered whether using a Windows keyboard on a Mac is possible, the answer is: yes. And if you wondered how difficult it would be to connect a Windows keyboard to a macOS system, the shortest answer would be: pretty easy.
People usually opt for a Windows keyboard because it is more practical. In most cases, it’s easier to find a keyboard that is compatible with a Windows system than one that is compatible with macOS.
In this article, we will explain how to use a Windows keyboard on a Mac, we will mention a few differences between these keyboards, how to remap keys to minimize mistakes while typing (although it is easy to use a Windows keyboard on a Mac, some keys are different), and more!
How to Set Up a Windows Keyboard on a Mac
There are three ways to connect a Windows keyboard to a Mac:
Use a USB Cable
If you have a keyboard with a USB cable, the first step is to plug it into an available port on your Mac. As soon as you plug it in, you will see a message on your computer from a “Keyboard Setup Assistant.” You will need to follow a few simple instructions (like pressing a few keys) to identify the keyboard, and then you will be ready to use it within a minute or two!
If you have a Windows keyboard that comes with a PS/2 cable, you will need to buy an adapter for the Apple system that allows you to connect a PS/2 cable to the macOS system.
If you purchased a wireless Windows keyboard, you will be able to connect to your Mac using Bluetooth. However, you might need to use a cable while setting the keyboard for the first time to have your macOS system recognize the keyboard before using Bluetooth in the future. Many wireless Mac keyboards can be connected the same way. There are also many wireless Mac keyboards that you can choose from.
Why Use a Windows Keyboard on a Mac?
There are a few reasons why people use a Windows keyboard on a Mac, and below we will explain them in more detail:
One of the reasons why people keep choosing PC keyboards for their Macs is because they are more available. Apple products are sold in specialized stores, and unless you live near one, you will need to wait 7-10 business days for a Mac keyboard to arrive. On the other hand, Windows keyboards can be bought in most stores (and there’s a big chance you already have an old one in your house).
If your macOS keys aren’t working properly, you can easily hook up a portable PC replacement keyboard instead of paying a few hundred dollars for a repair. Connecting a Windows keyboard to a Mac is an easy solution that allows you to stay productive until you replace your Mac keyboard.
Many people simply prefer Windows keyboards over Apple ones. For example, some people like Windows keys more because they are set a little higher than the Apple ones. Furthermore, many people like Windows keyboards because they seem to have better wrist support. Again, these are just personal opinions of some users, but they are valid reasons why they prefer to use Windows keyboards on their Macs.
Mac vs. Windows Keyboard
Most of the Windows and Mac keys are similar, as both keyboards use the QWERTY typing model. However, there are some differences that are worth mentioning:
Firstly, a Windows keyboard uses the Control key, and a Mac keyboard has a Command key.
This difference impacts the shortcuts that include these commands. For example, you can copy something on a Mac keyboard using Command + C. You can do the same on a Windows keyboard using Control + C.
Also, while Windows keyboards use Alt keys, Mac keyboards use Option keys (some Magic Keyboards have “alt” written in small text).
When it comes to function keys, both Windows and Mac keyboards have them. On a Windows keyboard, the F-keys from F1 to F12 perform different functions when combined with the Fn keys. The function keys control brightness, volume, and other features.
On a Mac keyboard, these keys have consistent features, for example, F3 opens Mission Control, F4 opens the Dashboard, and you use F7, F8, and F9 to fast-forward, rewind, and play or pause media.
Related article: Top 8 Magic Keyboard Alternatives in 2023
How to Remap a Windows Keyboard on a Mac
It’s easy to use a PC keyboard on a Mac, but it can be tricky to get used to the differences in keyboard shortcuts that we mentioned above. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend weeks making mistakes while typing because macOS allows you to remap your keyboard and change the key functions as you wish. Here’s how to remap a Windows keyboard easily:
- Open the “System Preferences” and tap on the “Keyboard” tab
- Now tap on the “Modifier keys” tab at the bottom of the screen
- Select the Windows keyboard from the “Select Keyboard” drop-down menu
- Under the “Option key,” choose the “Command key”
- Change the Command key to “Option”
- Tap on “OK” to save the changes and start the keyboard remapping
Related article: How to Copy and Paste on Mac
Frequently Asked Questions
What If My Mac Doesn’t Have a USB Port?
New versions of Mac laptops don’t have USB ports, unlike the older models. Instead, they come with two Thunderbolt ports. In this case, you will need an adapter that allows you to connect a Windows Keyboard to a Mac. In most cases, the adapter is a product that allows you to plug in a cable using a USB port.
What is the Mac Command Key on Windows Keyboard?
On a Windows keyboard, you can use the Control key for the shortcuts that use the Command key on Mac.
How Do You Use the Fn Key on a Mac?
On a Mac, the top row of function keys controls different features on your Mac. For example, pressing the brightness keys increases or lowers the brightness of your screen.
By default, the top row of keys on your Apple keyboard control many different features on your Mac. For example, pressing the keys with speaker icons will adjust the volume.
Pressing and holding the Fn key and another function key at the same time performs a keyboard shortcut operation. If you want to turn off the sound using your keyboard, you can press Fn and F2 simultaneously. Furthermore, to lower the brightness of your screen, press and hold Fn and F1.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how to use a Windows keyboard on a Mac, you can easily remap the keys and keep working as you used to. Remember that you need to purchase an adapter in case your Windows keyboard isn’t wired or if your Mac laptop doesn’t have a USB port.
And if you found this article helpful, you might also be interested in learning how to unlock a keyboard if you cannot type on it. Is it time for a new keyboard? Here are the 9 best keyboards for Mac to buy in 2023.
- The Best 60 Percent Keyboard (Top 6 Reviewed)
- Surface Pro Keyboard Not Working? 7 Easy Ways to Fix it
- Top 8 Best Magic Keyboard Alternatives
Tamara is the social media manager and a writer for Productivity Spot. Her main areas of expertise include writing in-depth how-to articles, developing email campaigns, and social media management in the tech industry. She is also the social media manager for Spreadsheet Point, Hackr.io, and VentureKite, among others.