Apple keys for a PC Keyboard?
August 24, 2005 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Is there anyone selling keys with Apple markings for PC keyboards? (Or do I have other options?)

After years of being able to do almost anything on a PC, I've made the switch and am very happy. But Apple must have sado-masochists working in its keyboard and mouse department. So I'm definitely keeping my old-school, clicky, IBM style keyboards but I'd really like to swap out the Windows keys, etc for keys with Apple-style markings on them. I'd really like volume-style keys for the numeric keypad/F13/Help as well.

So 1) Is anyone selling what I want?, 2) If so, will any old key plug into my IBM-style keyboard or are keys tailored to keyboards? 3) If not, can I get blank keys somewhere?

This is pure vanity, of course, as the thing will still work, but surely someone out there is crazy enough to be selling this, right?
posted by ontic to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Arn't apple keyboards USB? shouldn't you just be able to plug it right into a PC?
posted by delmoi at 11:16 PM on August 24, 2005

Here's a link to an old-schooly, clicky keyboard that works, the Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard. A bit pricey, IMHO, but apparently has a large, almost cult-like, following.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:19 PM on August 24, 2005

I use Apple keyboards on x86 systems all the time. Just pick one up and plug it in.
posted by purephase at 12:34 AM on August 25, 2005

delmoi, purephase -- I think you're misreading the question. He wants to use his PC keyboard on a Mac -- but with the Mac keys. (Like a Command key instead of a Windows key, etc.)

I bought a third party keyboard for my Mac -- it's designed for Macs but shaped like a Natural Keyboard, which was my preference. I don't know if it's possible just to buy the keys and swap them out. Hopefully someone who does know will speak up.
posted by litlnemo at 1:12 AM on August 25, 2005

Best answer: This place will sell you replacement keys or sticker labels.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:28 AM on August 25, 2005

Yes there are stores selling spare parts for Apple computers including individual keys (see for instance here and here - more for different models, mostly laptops there), you can also try ebay. But I cannot imagine that they'd fit a non-Apple keyboard. Still, since they're so cheap, you could try ordering a couple of keycaps and see if they do fit.

You'd be better off getting a third-party keyboard for macs like litlnemo suggests though. Or even just take a permanent marker and re-redecorate your current keys yourself!
posted by funambulist at 2:05 AM on August 25, 2005

Second vote here for the Matias Tactile Pro. I have two of them (one at home, one I bought and took to work) and I love them to death.
posted by mrbill at 2:43 AM on August 25, 2005

If I'm reading the question correctly, you're looking for replacement keycaps for something similar to a Model M, and would like some with Apple-relevant markings. That's the term you'll want to use when you're shopping around: "keycap".

I don't know if the folks are making the new pseudo-Model-Ms with removable keycaps, but if they're true to the original design the caps are very easily replaceable -- they just snap on and off.

These guys are Google's first search result for "custom keycaps." Perhaps they or one of the other companies will be able to source the part you want.
posted by majick at 6:36 AM on August 25, 2005

posted by jjg at 7:03 AM on August 25, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. To be clear, I'm switching to Mac and trying to bring my Model-M type keyboards along. The keyboard already works with the new Mac but I wanted to get the Apple look on the old keyboard.

I'd never thought of sticker labels for the keys -- that might do if I can't find the actual keys anywhere.

I'd never thought about trying an old-school Apple keyboard. I wonder if it's as good as the Model M's...

Keep 'em coming.
posted by ontic at 7:53 AM on August 25, 2005

I think the Matias is what you want, if you decide to buy one. I've never tried one, but from what I remember the original Apple keyboard was much like the original IBM keyboard, and that's what Matias claims it is like. It also marks what character each key makes when Option is pressed, which is cool. I'd be all over it if they made a Dvorak version.

A note on the permanent marker idea: I tried that, to label a Logitech for Dvorak. Despite using permanent sharpie, the constant finger contact wore it off really quickly. Tried my own stickers, too, from a label maker we have: they got really dirty and ugly looking, and came off pretty quickly, as well.
posted by teece at 8:29 AM on August 25, 2005

I love the Apple keyboard, but the mouse, of course, leaves much to be desired.

Logitech used to imprint Apple and Windows logos both on the keys. Not sure if they still do this.
posted by benjh at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2005

I recently picked up a PC keyboard for a Mac-using friend (this was an extra-compact model, and there aren't any that are Mac-specific). One thing to watch out for is the mapping of the mod keys. Typically, Mac keyboards have the command key next to the spacebar, and option keys next to that. PC keyboards apparently have the Alt key (which is treated as option on a Mac) next to the spacebar and the Windows key (equivalent to command) next to that. I'm sure there is software for remapping this if you care.
posted by adamrice at 10:39 AM on August 25, 2005

Best answer: I was in this same boat when I switched; I tried using both my Northgate Omnikeys and my Model M with a USB adapter and my Mac. The keyboard differences drove me slightly mad, and I looked for another solution, one that surprised me -- the old Apple Extended Keyboard II.

Apple's recent keyboards have been so bad for so long that it's easy to believe that they never released a good keyboard, but the Extended Keyboard II is more than a match for the Model M. The feel is slightly different -- the clicking of the Model M is more of a hollow clunk on the Extended Keyboard II, and the keyfeel is a bit lighter -- but this is first-class tactile keyswitch action without any of the mushiness of other Apple keyboards, and the keyboard is built as big and heavy as the M. After using it for a few weeks, I was hooked, and it's become my keyboard of choice.

Best of all? I bought mine for $5 (and you can occasionally find them cheaper). I honestly don't understand why anyone would recommend the Matias, when the real thing can be found so cheaply (even if you need to also purchase an ADB to USB adapter). Don't confuse the Extended keyboard with the Design or the Pro keyboards; the Design and Pro keyboards aren't good.

I'm not quite sure I understand the draw of the Matias when the original Extended Keyboard II is cheaper and, by all reports, better constructed. It's a giant hulk of a keyboard, but if you like the Model M, then it should be fine.
posted by eschatfische at 11:04 AM on August 25, 2005

eschatfische: one thing I don't like about "real" Apple keyboards is that the "locator dots" for those of us that touch type, are on the D and K keys instead of F and J like every other keyboard known to man. When I try to touch-type on a real Apple keyboard, I get out of place.
posted by mrbill at 7:20 PM on August 26, 2005

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