I love writing on a MacBook keyboard. It’s just the right size, and my fingers know all of my text-relevant shortcuts by heart. It’s a touch typing dream.

However, when I’m sitting at my desk working on math-heavy technical documents, I prefer to use the full Apple keyboard with number pad. The number pad saves me a lot of time when I’m generating lots of mathematical type.

If the full Apple keyboard simply added a number pad to the layout of the MacBook (or wireless) keyboard, all would be well in my world.

The problem

Unfortunately the full keyboard has an extra control key on the right side, and so my right thumb has to hurdle that key to get to the option and command keys for navigation shortcuts that also involve arrow keys.

On a MacBook keyboard, of course, there is no right control key, and so option and command sit snuggly next to the arrow keys. This feels so, so much natural to me when hopping among words and lines.

The solution

KeyRemap4MacBook helped me MacBook-ify my full Apple keyboard. Now, my right control key is an option key, and my right option key is a command key thanks to these two settings:

  <img src="/img/remap1-pe.png" alt=""/>

  <img src="/img/remap2-pe.png" alt=""/>

  <img src="/img/key-remap-pe.png" alt=""/>

I decided to leave the default right command key as is. I don’t really mind having two command keys. Plus, it’s nice having a command next to the space bar for my cmd-space LaunchBar shortcut.

Honestly, I’ve never loved the idea of key remapping. It just feels fiddly and wrong to mess with such basic defaults. I think it’s usually far better to adapt your fingers to a keyboard layout. But since I routinely alternate between two layouts and since I lack the ability and interest to build my own perfect keyboard, this was the best solution for me.

KeyRemap4MacBook is a very powerful key remapping tool supported by donations only. If you have similar problems to solve, it’s probably worth checking out.