If you’ve recently added a
Windows PC to your collection, or
installed Windows on your Mac, then you may notice that the standard Apple keyboard is a little different to those usually supplied with PCs. In this article we help you understand the differences so you can use your Mac keyboard with Windows.
For the reverse situation, read
How to use a Windows keyboard with a Mac. Also read:
Where is the Command key?
Will the keyboard work with my PC?
Whether you’re using a PC or a Mac with Windows installed, the Apple keyboards should all work perfectly. The various models, such as the
Magic Keyboard, either connect through Bluetooth or via a USB cable, so there shouldn’t be any need for installing drivers.
Of course, there are a few keys that are not the same, so we’ll look at that below.
What keys are different or missing?
For the most part the layouts for PC and Mac keyboards are identical, but there are a few key (pardon the pun) differences.
The first and most obvious is that a Mac keyboard doesn’t have a Windows key. More accurately, it doesn’t have a key with the Windows symbol on it, but the one marked command or cmd acts as one when you press it.
Alt and Alt GR are slightly different in that the Apple variant just has two Alt keys. To use one as Alt GR you need to hold down the control or ctrl key at the same time.
It’s a similar situation for Delete and Backspace, with Macs only having a Delete button on the smaller keyboards, although this does act like a Backspace as it deletes the character to the left of the cursor. To get the Windows version of Delete, press and hold the control or ctrl key and press D or hold the fn (function) key down while pressing Delete.
You won’t find a Print Scr button on a Mac keyboard, so if you want to
capture what’s on your display then you’ll need to use the Windows Snipping Tool. To find this, open the Windows Start Menu and type snipping tool, then select it from the results that appear. For more details on how to use it, read Microsoft’s
Use Snipping Tool to capture screenshots guide.
The one main omission is the Menu or Applications key on Windows that allows you to launch contextual windows (basically the same as right-clicking the mouse). Mac keyboards don’t have these and there’s currently no shortcut combination to activate it.
There are a few other features that are absent, including Insert, Page Up, Page Down, Number Lock and others, but these can be achieved through the onscreen keyboard present in Windows.
To find this go to the Start Menu and navigate to Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard and enable the toggle for Use the On-Screen Keyboard.
This can then be minimised so you can bring it up whenever you need those special commands.
To find a full breakdown of the various shortcuts available on the keyboard, you can also download the
Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator app. This free software gives you the ability to remap keys so they produce the characters you choose.
Launch the app, then click File > Load Existing Keyboard and find your particular model. You can then click on the tickboxes to the left of the keyboard and see what combinations you need to use for all the extended characters.
If you want to change a key then choose the relevant tickbox (in other words, if you want the character to appear when you press Shift then make sure you have that box selected), click on the virtual key and enter the symbol that you want it to use instead.
Microsoft has included a detailed help section, so be sure to take a look at it if you want to get the most from the app.
Before you decide to migrate from Apple to Microsoft, be sure to read our
Mac vs PC comparison feature as we suspect you might find that the grass is greener on the fruitier side.