Mechanical Keyboards for Mac

keyboards compatible with mac on the switch and click

Question and Answer

I know now that there are all these awesome keyboards out there that are more ergonomic and offer a better typing experience. But I have a big problem. I have a Mac, and most mechanical keyboards I see out there have that Windows button. Are there keyboards made specifically for Mac? Is it possible to buy ones with the Windows key and make it work for Mac somehow? Please help.

Great question! In 2018, over 18 million people bought Macs each year from 2014-2018. That’s a whole lot of Macs. Overall, you should not need a special keyboard to use with your Mac. Many keyboards offer programming layers or DIP switches to be Mac-compatible. There are Mac-specific keyboards out there which we’ll discuss below. Make sure you do your research and see if any reviews have any problems on Mac, but the general rule of thumb is it will work, with some small modifications.

What the heck is a DIP switch?

It stands for dual in-line package switch or DIP for short. In keyboards, it lets you change from one configuration into another without doing anything on the computer’s side.

apple keyboard
Your typical Apple keyboard without mechanical switches

Using Any Mechanical Keyboard with a Mac

When you plug in a mechanical keyboard into your Mac that isn’t specifically made for it, such as the many keyboards (that are not mechanical), there are some steps that you might need to take first.

Setting up your keyboard on a Mac

Macbook air with Razer Blackwidow keyboard
Using Razer Blackwidow keyboard with Macbook Air

I used my Razer Blackwidow TE with my Macbook Air.

  1. Plug in your keyboard.
  2. It might prompt you to press the keys next to your Shift buttons to see what layout the keyboard is in. It did for me.
  3. Now go to settings -> Keyboard
  4. Press on Modifier keys on the bottom right.
  5. At the drop-down menu to select keyboard: select the keyboard you just plugged in.
  6. Change the modifier keys to suit your needs.

Currently, my Windows key acts as Command. Ctrl is Control. And my Alt key is the Option key. I tried a few things such as copying and pasting, opening new tabs, closing tabs and closing windows. It worked like a charm.

Keep in mind that I have a TKL keyboard, so I didn’t get to try any number pad keys. I also never use my function row for anything either. Now let’s jump into Mac-specific keyboards.

Apple keyboard

Keyboards Made for Mac

The keyboards are listed in no specific order, but I have done extensive research into the reviews, specifications, and any other information I can find on some of these keyboards. There are MANY others out there too. This is NOT a comprehensive list, but it can give you and idea of where to start.

Varmilo VA87M Mac White TKL Mechanical Keyboard

This  Varmila VA87M is fully compatible with Mac, and has the Mac-specific keys: command, control, and option. You do not have to install any third-party software. It’s a plug and play directly into your Mac.

This is a tenkeyless keyboard with no number pad, as you now know.

It is fully white with black legends. It’s available in different Cherry MX switch types: black, brown, blue, red, silent red, and silver. At night, you can still type and play games with the white LEDs.

This keyboard is going for $129 online.

Some complaints regarding this keyboard include that the control and command keys on this keyboard are slightly smaller than on the Apple keyboard. It may take some practice and getting used to when switching from your Apple keyboard to this one. Another is that it is not fully programmable like some other keyboards we’ve seen such as the Drop CTRL.

But the feels! The feels are there. Also, the keyboard is beautiful in all white. It has a very Appl-esque aesthetic.

It may be made for Mac, but it is also configurable to work with Windows as well. Just press FN + W for 3s until the CapsLock flashes. To go back to Mac mode, press FN + A for 3s until Capslock flashes. Very simple and quick.

Azio MK Mac Full-Sized Keyboard (Wired or Wireless)

Yet another beautiful all-white mechanical keyboard made specifically for Mac. The Azio MK Mac is a full-sized keyboard that was designed with Mac users in mind.

Right now it is $95.99 on Amazon and $99.99 on Azio’s website. It has 4 start with 311 ratings.

With mechanical keys, there’s no need to worry about ghosting or rollover problems. These switches feature a tactile feel without the clicky sounds. They use Kailh Brown switches, which are the equivalent of Cherry MX browns with minor differences. They are tactile switches that are decently quiet.

It has a detachable palm rest that is silver with a perforated look.

Azio also offers this keyboard with wireless features using Bluetooth technology. It advertises up to 1 month of moderate use and is rechargeable using a USB-C port.

Keychron (their entire lineup)

Keychron is an amazing company that was founded in 2017 by a group of keyboard enthusiasts. They dedicate themselves to creating mechanical keyboards with minimalist designs and top-notch performance.

Keychron currently offers three different keyboards, the K1, K2, and K4 with a pre-launch of their newest model, the K6. As of writing this, it is launching in a little bit over 3 days. Very soon!

All their keyboards come with different keycap sets for Mac and Windows. Just pull off the keycaps and switch over to what you need.

To switch between layouts, simply toggle the switch on the side. Let’s dive into each individual model! This gets me excited because these keyboards are beautiful, minimalist, and have a good reputation.

K1

The Keychron K1 is a low-profile keyboard, which means the keys don’t jut out as high as the keyboards you’re probably used to. They’re more like the height of the Apple keyboard, but better because they’re mechanical. It has a fully functional function row.

They come into two sizes: 87-keys (TKL) and 104-keys (full-size). The following switches are offered: Gateron Reds and Blues. You can choose between clicky and tactile or linear and quiet.

The TKL version can have RGB lighting or white backlight only. The RGB version comes with 18 different pre-set lighting effects.

It has an ultra-slim profile with an 188mm body. Wow, so thin.

It uses a USB-C plug to connect to the computer. However, it also can be used wireless with Bluetooth.

This keyboard ranges in pricing. The TKL version with White backlight comes in at $75, whereas the RGB TKL is $84. The most expensive version, the full-sized RGB keyboard is $94.

For the functionality of this keyboard, this keyboard is worthy of this price tag. It comes with keycaps for Mac and Windows, has wireless functionality, the choice of 2 different style switches, and compatibility with pretty much all devices.

K2

The Keychron K2 is a 60% mechanical keyboard with a color palette of light and dark greys. It has an orange Esc button. Like the K2, it also comes with keycaps for Windows and Mac.

The different versions are white backlight ($69), RGB backlight ($79), and RGB backlight with an aluminum frame ($89). Having an aluminum frame increases the looks but also the stability and durability of the keyboard.

The switch options are Gateron red switches, brown switches, and blue switches. This keyboard has a 5-star rating with 29 reviews.

Like the K1, the K2 has both wired and wireless modes. It uses Bluetooth to connect with up to 3 devices. Switching between the devices is done easily using the function keys. It has N-key rollover when in wired mode, so you can type as fast as you want without worrying.

It is very similar to the K1, with 18 different lighting effects and a battery that lasts up to 70 hours between charges. It also has 2 kickstands in the back for people who prefer typing with a more intense angle.

Although it is a 60% keyboard, it has dedicated arrow keys in their usual layout. Very convenient.

If I were to pick one keyboard out of the entire Keychron lineup, it would be the K2 with RGB lighting with the aluminum frame with Gateron Brown Switches. It’s simple, yet gorgeous.

K4

The Keychron K4 is a 96% keyboard with 100 keys. It has a number pad and arrow arrows. It also has the function row, but its compact due to its space-saving design.

This keyboard comes in three different versions: white backlight ($69), black backlight ($79), and an RGB version with an aluminum frame ($89). It has more switch types than the previous two with the option to pick out Blue optical or Red optical switches for $10 extra.

Alongside those, it also has the option of Gateron blues, browns, reds, and yellows. The keycaps are ABS plastic with grey, a rose pink, and orange colors.

For more information, check out Keychron’s page, comparing the different switch options.

Not my style due to its size, but for those who want the full-sized layout without all the extra space on the keyboard, this is a great option! It uses all of the space of the frame without wasting anything.

K6

Last, but not least, their newest keyboard, the Keychron K6. It looks so darn good. Light grey, dark grey, and an orange escape button. It is clean and simple.

This keyboard has a 65% layout with all the features as other Keychrone keyboards: Mac and Windows keycaps, full compatibility with both, Bluetooth wireless mode up to 3 devices and wired mode, and the choice to have RGB lighting with 18 lighting effects.

Like the K4, the K6 can be bought with optical or Gateron switches.

New: the K6 comes with hot swappable sockets, which will allow you to take out the switches and replace it with something you prefer such as Kailh switches or Cherry switches. It gives you freedom and easy with changing switches without soldering.

For a list of some more Mac keyboards, check out the associated post on the Mechanical Keyboards subreddit.

Summary

Pretty much all mechanical keyboards can be compatible with Macs. It just takes a little bit of tinkering in the settings and remembering the location of the keys like we discussed above.

There are many Mac-specific keyboards out there with the same aesthetic with Apple’s white and simple look. Many of those keyboards are under $100 and have wireless and Bluetooth capabilities.

We looked at all of Keychron’s lineup, which offer the best compatibility options between Mac and Windows, coming with different keycaps for the Command, Option, Alt, Control, and Windows keys.

They have keyboards in all different sizes: full-sized low-profile, 60%, 65%, and a compact full-sized keyboard. There are options for everything. They have a variety of Gateron or optical switches to pick from as well as lighting options such as white or RGB.

If I were to buy a keyboard for my Macbook Air, it would be the Keychron K2 or the newer Keychron K6. I prefer the smaller keyboards. The more portable, the better. Also, I have small hands. I have no need for a number pad because I never do number entry. Just kidding, I do, but the top number row key will make do.

I highly recommend Keychron keyboards because they are made by people who know what they’re doing. They don’t just make keyboards, they low keyboards and use them on a regular basis. Of course they know what the people want because they are the people.

Anyways, hope this helped you find a keyboard for you Mac and Apple usages. Happy typing!

Mechanical keyboard on desk setup
Mechanical keyboards such make things prettier.

Sources

Global Apple Mac sales in the fiscal years from 2002 to 2018 statista.com

DIP Switch Deskthority.net

Our Favorite Mechanical Keyboards Thewirecutter.com

Keychron.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s