Apple Keyboard for Windows (AKfoW)

AppleKeyboardWinApple Keyboard for Windows is a small utility improving the experience of using an Apple keyboard on Windows. Since I’m often switch back and forth between Mac and Windows, both on physical computers as well as virtual machines, the differences in keyboard layout and shortcuts has caused me some trouble over the years. Since I really appreciate the hardware in the Apple keyboard I have chosen to also use a dedicated Apple USB keyboard even for my physical Windows computer to keep the differences to a minimum.

This is a good start but only takes me half the way. The combination of Windows OS and Apple keyboard layout isn’t always that good. This often this causes me a lot of headache as I rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts and my effectiveness depends how swift I am with the keyboard. One major issue is all the Cmd + XX key combinations you are used to from OS X. Take “Copy” for example. On your Mac you would use Cmd + C to copy some text while on Windows you have to use Ctrl + C instead. And if you are like me and rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts you tend to use these shortcuts without thinking, they just happens. And in this case these shortcuts won’t work and this becomes annoying and effectively a real productivity killer.

So I’ve put together a small utility (actually a compiled AutoHotKey script) to enable a lot of these shortcuts. Below you find the basic features of AKfoW:

  • Now Media Playback works with other programs than iTunes, like Spotify for example
  • You can now use Cmd + T to open tabs and Cmd + W/Q to close windows and entire applications (the latter is equivalent to Alt + F4)
  • Copy, Cut and Paste works as you are used to
  • Cmd + Arrow works like Home / End / Page Up / Page Down
  • Cmd & Shift & Alt + Arrow will snap the current window to Left / Top / Right / Bottom (like Docker etc works on OS X)
  • F13 can be used to take screenshots
  • Also there is a “developers special”: Alt + 8/9 will get you square brackets and adding the Alt-key modifier will give you curly brackets instead

 

Keyboard shortcuts in detail:

  • Cmd ⌘ + C/V/X – Copy, Paste and Cut
  • Cmd ⌘ + Left/Right arrow ← → – Home (left ←) / End (right →)
  • Cmd ⌘ + Up/Down arrow ↑ ↓ – Page Up/Down
  • Cmd ⌘ + Z – Undo
  • Cmd ⌘ + T – Open new tab
  • Cmd ⌘ + W – Close current window/tab
  • Cmd ⌘ + Q – Quits the current application (equivivalent to Alt + F4)
  • Cmd ⌘ + F7/F8/F9 – Media keys (Previous track, Play/pause, Next track)
  • Cmd ⌘ + F10/F11/F12 – Volume control (Mute, Lower volume, Raise volume)
  • F13 – Take screenshot
  • Alt ⋜ + 8/9 – Square brackets (or curly brackets with the Shift modifier key)

Unfortunately I haven’t found a solid replacement for Alt + Tab (which still causing some frustration for me).

Snap window

There is also a HyperDock kind-of special key-combo (both to mimic the same behavior as HyperDock on Mac but also to make up for the Cmd + Left/Right Arrow being mapped as Home/End instead of it’s default Windows behavior).

  • Cmd ⌘ + Shift ⇧ + Alt ⋜ + Arrow key ←↑→↓ – Snaps current window to any of the four edges of the screen (works as the default Win + Arrow key feature in Windows)

Media playback and volume control

This script also enables the media keys (previous track, play/pause, next track and volume buttons). Use the Cmd key + any of the F7-F12 keys to control media playback. And unlike AWK (see below) these media keys works with all applications, like Spotify, and not only iTunes.

 

Installation

The easiest method is to download the binary from the project page. Simply run this application and the new keyboard shortcuts will be in effect. If you want it to auto-start with Windows (which I suppose you would) you need to create a shortcut in your Start Menu/Startup folder.

Should you prefer to run the script instead, for example if you need to customize the behavior, you first need to download and install AutoHotKey. Then download the script from GitHub. Now you can fire up this script using AHK.

 

Special note if your are running AppleWirelessKeyboard

There is a neat tool that will fix some of the Apple keyboard specific features that is called Apple Wireless Keyboard (AKW) by UX Soft. And despite it’s name it actually works on the wired USB keyboard as well (however with limited set of features).

AKfoW works well in combination with the AKW utility. Some features will now get duplicate shortcuts (media keys for example). If you disable “direct F-key” in AKW the media keys will be enabled (Special/Media Keys mode). If you have enabled “direct F-key” the special/media keys will be disabled and the F1-F12 will directly as on any typical Windows keyboard (Function Keys mode).

In Function Keys mode, you can still access the media keys through F7-12 keys using the Cmd modifier if you use AKfoW with AKW – best of both worlds.

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