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Keyboards are highly personal, so I really can’t make a universal recommendation for everyone. But the good news is that because they are one of the oldest peripherals for a computer, almost any keyboard is going to be a good choice.
You may want to visit your local computer or office supply store to try the display models out yourself. But I do have some considerations to look for:
Wired vs Wireless: wireless keyboards are everywhere. But is removing the cord really worth the added cost, the hassle of changing or charging batteries, and (yes) the added chance of losing your keyboard? Only you can answer that. The good news is that when the Apple Magic Keyboard is connected using a Lightning cable it actually operates as a wired keyboard. But of course, as an Apple product, it isn’t exactly cheap.
Two types of wireless: Bluetooth or dongle. Just because a keyboard is wireless does not mean it’s Bluetooth. If you are going wireless I always recommend Bluetooth. If it has a USB dongle that’s just one more item that can get lost, use up a valuable USB port, or if using a MacBook one more thing that can get broken easily. When looking at the packaging look carefully and make sure it does say that it’s Bluetooth. Logitech has a “unifying receiver” logo that looks a little like the Bluetooth logo if you aren’t paying attention.
Compact or Full: this usually doesn’t refer to the size of the keys, but simply whether there is a number pad on the side. Unless you regularly do number entry, I recommend sticking to a compact keyboard. Most people find that the number pad gets in the way since it goes right where you would want to put your mouse.
Mechanical or Low-Profile: the recent trend over the past two decades has been toward low-profile keyboards where the keys don’t press down far. Like virtually every laptop computer. Personally, I prefer this because I can type faster when I don’t have to move my fingers as much. But others really prefer the feedback and feel of a mechanical keyboard. This is a highly personal preference. If the feel of a keyboard is very important to you I suggest going to Staples or Best Buy to type on their display models.
Mac or PC: Yes, there are differences between Mac and PC keyboards. But if you really really like the feel of a particular PC keyboard you can absolutely use it with your Mac! The only thing you really need to be aware of is that the modifier keys will be labeled differently and will be in different locations. Command=Windows, option=alt, control=ctrl. Some keyboards I’ve seen from Logitech can even sense whether they are connected to a Mac or PC and will adjust these keys for you, so they have both types printed on the keys.
A note about solar-powered keyboards: they seem like the perfect answer to the problem of having to regularly replace batteries. But unless you have lots of natural light you should avoid them. LED bulbs don’t give off light in the proper frequencies to charge many solar-powered devices. That’s why LED is so efficient: they only give off light in very narrow frequencies that we can see.
But I bet you want some recommendations. Here are a few to pick from:
The best wireless keyboard for most Mac users
The Apple Magic Keyboard is a very high-quality keyboard. The current model uses a rechargeable battery so that when you connect it to your computer with the Lightning cable (the same cable you use to charge your iPhone) it charges your keyboard, and as a bonus, it will automatically pair by Bluetooth to your Mac when physically connected so it is dead simple to set up. No fussing with getting into pairing mode.
The keyboard comes in a few varieties depending on whether you want the numeric keypad or Touch ID. The Touch ID models are only compatible with the latest model Macs with Apple Silicon processors. The model with the numeric keypad but without Touch ID is a slightly older iteration but it’s still a very good keyboard.
- Apple Magic Keyboard (Amazon / Best Buy)
- Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID—compatible only with Apple Silicon Macs (Amazon / Best Buy)
- Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad—no Touch ID (Amazon)
- Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad & Touch ID—compatible only with Apple Silicon Macs (Amazon / Best Buy)
The Logitech K380 is a fantastic Bluetooth keyboard at a fantastic price. A few of the perks are that it auto-switches between Mac and PC modes, AAA alkaline batteries last about a year, and it has support for up to three devices. Just press one of the three colored buttons on the top to switch. Or hold one of the three buttons to go into Bluetooth pairing mode for that button. This makes it perfect for switching between your Mac, your iPhone, and your iPad.
Inexpensive, Wired Keyboard
If you want an easy, inexpensive keyboard that requires no pairing and no batteries, this one should fit the bill. Some people swear by Macally products, though I’ve never used them for more than a few minutes myself.
- Macally SLIMKEYCSG (Amazon)
For the mechanical keyboard enthusiast, it’s worth checking out the Keychron line of products. I’ve not used them myself but I’ve heard great things about this company that is trying to revive the feel of classic keyboards using modern technology such as Bluetooth support and backlighting.
- Keychron K2 (Amazon)
If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.
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