Guide: Mastering your Apple keyboard on Windows

AppleKeyboardWinWhether you just prefer using the Apple keyboard with your Windows computer, or you are running a Windows virtual machine guest on your Apple hardware, this guide will help get the most out of your experience.

Please note: these tips is based on my experience with a Swedish keyboard layout, and this might differ depending on your actual layout.

Make your keyboard work as it normally does

Once you have installed you keyboard and all basic functionality is in place (i.e. you can log in, write text etc) I recommend the convinient tool Apple Wireless Keyboard (AWK) from UX Soft. This utility program will fix most of your function keys to behave like they normally do on your native Mac OS X experience. You can easily switch between Special/Media Keys mode (Brightness, Media Playback, Volume etc) or Function Keys mode (F1-F12).

Improve your effectiveness by using your keyboard as you’re used to

Although AWK fixes the basic special key functionality for your Apple keyboard in Windows there is one area that (previously) caused me a lot of headache. And that is all the Cmd + XXX combinations you are used to. Take “Copy” for example. On your Mac OS X machine you would use Cmd + C to copy some text, while logged into Windows you have to use Ctrl + C instead. And if you are like me and rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts to be effective and also switch back and forth between OS X and Windows this becomes annoying and a real productivity killer.

So I’ve put together a small utility (actually a compiled AutoHotKey script) to fix a lot of these shortcuts. Below you will find some examples, for full details refer to the Apple Keyboard for Windows (AKfoW) project page.

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

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


Reclaim disk space from your Virtual Machine

After running your virtual machine for some time you probably have created, deleted and modified a great deal of files. And let’s not forget the operating system which constantly modifies files. This will take up space on your host operating system, even if these files should be deleted.

Some virtualization softwares do support reclaiming disk space out-of-the-box. VM Ware Fusion for Mac is one example of such software. And most of the enterprise solutions also support this. However, should you be using other tools that do not have this option, such as VirtualBox, there is still some ways to achieve this.

Continue to read more about how free space is managed in virtual machine guest os:es or skip directly to the solution.

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Ripping a DVD (and sync it with iPad)

If you have physical videos (on DVD’s) and want to copy (rip) them to your computer, Handbrake is a good alternative. This will also give you the option to encode the videos in a format that is playable in your Apple TV, iPad or iPhone (or any other tablet/device really).

To be able to rip protected you should follow this guide:

Good luck!


Download Handbrake (Mac and Windows)