The Apple USB KeyboardApril 08, 2018
I can’t quit you babe…
I honestly can’t stop using hardware that isn’t made anymore. Today, I’ll be discussing my favorite keyboard, the Apple Wired USB Keyboard without the num-keys. Let’s break down why I can’t stop using this keyboard.
Simply put, the media keys are right there. I don’t have to look to play/pause or skip tracks, it’s all just a short reach away. Volume up and volume down are right there. Things just work, which is the overarching theme here.
PageUp, PageDown, Home, and End
Probably the most compelling feature of this keyboard on Linux is the key bindings for function keys and arrows:
- Fn+Up: equivalent to PageUp
- Fn+Down: equivalent to PageDown
- Fn+Left: equivalent to Home; moves the cursor to the absolute beginning of the line.
- Fn+Right: equivalent to End; moves the cursor to the absolute end of the line.
Normally, keyboards throw PageUp, PageDown, Home, and End to a hard-to-reach location in the upper right near the numpad. When this is the case, these keys are very hard to use and so I simply don’t use them.
Placing these as a simple Fn+Direction shortcuts allows me to navigate editors, text editors, browser URL bars… it works everywhere because it’s built into the kernel’s keymap for these keyboards.
Here are some use cases:
- Need to indent a line more or less? Fn+Left to navigate to the beginning of the line, then Tab, then Fn+Right to head back to the end of the line.
- Need to delete an entire line? Shift+Fn+Left will select the entire line, and then a simple Backspace or Delete and the line is gone.
The amazing thing about these keys being bound the way that they are is that they mesh very well with normal navigation using Ctrl+Direction; it’s simply a different modifier key to move around the line rather than around words using Ctrl+Direction. It just works, and I have yet to find another keyboard that replicates this extremely important functionality.
I own one of these keyboards for all of my machines, laptops and desktops.
It’s hard to gauge comfort, but I don’t get any pain whatsoever using this keyboard. I like the action, and I don’t get fatigue.
It’s hard to discuss whether this will be the same for everybody, I type in Dvorak so I admittedly use the keyboard differently than most people.
It’s USB! Gaming just works. The Apple Wireless Keyboard, being Bluetooth, works around 95% of the time. Sometimes, it’ll disconnect, the batteries die eventually, and with USB all these problems disappear.
On top of this, underneath the keyboard are two USB ports. I typically have my YubiKey hanging off of one and my mouse USB receiver off of the other. The convenience of this cannot be understated.
Epilogue: Find Me a Better Keyboard
I actually ordered a test set from WASD keyboards which demonstrates all of the different types of MX switches. MX Browns are what I would probably use in the end, but that’s contingent on me finding a keyboard which mirrors this layout and has media keys in the same place and supports the same key shortcuts as detailed above.
Find me a mechanical keyboard which does all this, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to move on from these discontinued keyboards I have to obtain via eBay.