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Create custom keyboard layouts in 10.2 Desktop
Apple's Developer Tech Note TN2056 explains how you can create your own keyboard layout. I've used it to remap the "plus minus/paragraph" key (the one above the Tab) so it creates a backtick and a tilde (when shifted), just like a PC keyboard.

[Editor's note: My backtick/tilde is above the tab, but I have an Apple standard keyboard. The technote is very detailed and will be quite helpful if you're interested in setting up your own customized keyboard layout.]
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Original G4 tiBook keyboard
Authored by: pooduck on Sep 17, '02 04:44:13PM

Has anyone already used this tip to remap the original G4 tiBook to match that of the second generation tiBooks?

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Original G4 tiBook keyboard
Authored by: patashnik on Sep 18, '02 07:05:44AM
I only have an old-rev tiBook myself, and I've used the methods described in the technote to remap some keys.

Perhaps a hint: I've used the USExtended keyboard layout as a basis; you can find the file at:

/System/Library/Keyboard Layouts/Unicode.bundle/Contents/Resources/USExtended.keylayout

I did some trickery to it to make it get recognised, for instance change the group to 0 (which makes it a Roman layout), but it seems to work perfectly.

Anyone interested in the layout I made (which is kind of annotated, so you can see what I changed) can mail me, ofcourse :)

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PC Keyboard?
Authored by: spodie on Sep 17, '02 05:43:29PM

I do Mac-only tech support for an organization that has 45+ Macs and 150+ PCs. They have a database on an AS/400 server that is accessed by everyone, Macs included. The Mac users complain about not having any function keys beyond F15, which are needed to access certain information.

This sounds intriguing. Does anyone know if I would be able to set up function keys on an Apple Pro Keyboard to go beyond F15? All the Mac users have tried double-pressing F-keys to get the desired number (such as F12 twice to get F24), but it only seems to work on PowerBooks that have a Function key in addition to Command, Control, and Option. These Mac users need to access F25 like the PC weenies do. I just don't know how to do it.

Any help, suggestions, or money would be deeply appreciated.


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PC Keyboard?
Authored by: Arbye on Sep 18, '02 02:07:39AM

We use a couple of programs to communicate with our AS/400 machine and both of them use the shift key to add 12 to the Fkey that is pressed. For example, Shift-F12 sends F24. Have you tried this combination already?

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Re-map volume keys?
Authored by: tinb on Sep 18, '02 10:05:33AM

Nice playing with keyboard layouts, but I am still searching for a means to map my function keys to volume up/down/mute.
My keyboard is a small one from an older G4 so these keys are missing.

Thx in advance,


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Re-map volume keys?
Authored by: numa on Jul 12, '03 11:40:04AM
Don't know if you re-mapped your volume keys yet (the post was from a while ago), but I just found an application to do the same thing...Keyboard Maestro (

I used it since I control both a PC and my PowerMac G4 through a KVM switch. The KVM switch doesn't recognize the volume keys on the Apple keyboard. So, I used Keyboard Maestro Lite (the free version) to send a "volume down" command when I hit Ctrl-F9. "Volume up" is Ctrl-F10, and so on. Effectively, Ctrl-F9 through Ctrl-F12 are now my Volume up/down/mute, plus the CD eject key. Works quite well. Then you just check the box that tells Keyboard Maestro to start as a daemon process when the system boots. Very easy solution.

It's not a keyboard re-map in the classic sense. It's more like defining macro's. But it works quite well. Oh...the volume control functions in Keyboard Maestro are under "Perform System Action"...not under iTunes or anything like that.

Hope this helps!

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Italian layout: where's it?
Authored by: ├člue on Sep 22, '02 08:36:13PM

I'd like to slightly modify the Italian layout of my TiBook keyboard, but can't find any "Italian.keylayout" file.
Any suggestion?

Many TIA.

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Try this site!
Authored by: jeb1138 on Oct 14, '02 10:43:05AM

This site helps change your keyboard layout easily in 10.2!

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XML-Based Key Layouts are a Lot of Fun
Authored by: mundie1010 on Oct 29, '02 09:54:15AM

I'd like to stress how cool this new mechanism is. As a Dvorak user who also uses non-standard character sets like the International Phonetic Alphabet, I have since 1985 struggled with keyboard layouts on the Mac. For me, the major disappointment of OS X was that there was no way to create custom layouts, so the appearance of this wonderful new key layout facility was a great relief.

The fact that layouts are stored as XML files makes them almost trivial to generate and massage. Best of all, it is easy to write scripts that do general transformations, such as converting any QWERTY layout to its Dvorak equivalent - for example, a Dvorak Extended layout that is the equivalent of U.S. Extended. The same principle could be applied to generate, say, a French Devanagari keyboard.

Within an hour or so I had produced an IPA Dvorak keyboard and a Devanagari Dvorak keyboard. The only problem I encountered was that sometimes the new keyboards wouldn't immediately appear in application menus, even after restarting the application. What seems to work is to launch an application after selecting the new key layout, but before quitting System Preferences.

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XML-Based Key Layouts are a Lot of Fun
Authored by: Viking on May 06, '03 10:11:41AM

Well, for me, I tried to create a whole keyboard using that method and it seems to work, but I still have two problems: the Home and End keys work only in applications like Word X, but not in TextEdit or Mail; and second, I can't put circumflex accent on letters... Have you got an idea?

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Create custom keyboard layouts in 10.2
Authored by: chrislyon on May 27, '03 01:28:01PM

I've tried to build my own keyboard layout for ancient polyphonic greek, for a french keyboard. I've used the greek keyboard layout supplied with the system (10.2.6), renamed it, changed the id, and permuted some letters with textedit to fit with my french keyboard. I've placed the new file in the directory ~/Library/Keyboard\ Layout. The international panel found it, and I didn't find any log file, so I suppose there was not any problem with compiling. I checked the box to enable this keyboard, quit preferences. But this new keyboard is not awailable in the menu bar, but instead an arabic keyboard. The international panel enable it itself. Does someone have this problem? Is there a conflict somewhere? It seems so easy to build his own keyboard, perhaps I've missed something.

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French Canadian keyboard
Authored by: naprous on Aug 20, '03 01:39:10PM

I'm so frustrated by the fact that OS X seems to have eliminated the French Canadian keyboard! They've switched it to something called the Canadian CSA keyboard, which has some French keys, but is otherwise counter-intuitive and difficult (not to mention the fact that switching keyboards is just simply intrinsically difficult!). And I have a book due to my publisher September 1st -- this is really giving me a big, big headache.

I have to admit, I'm not a techie, but a medievalist. All instructions that people have posted here look like they would work if I could understand them, but they might as well be written in Devenagari for all that I can figure them out. Greek would be much easier!

Has anyone come up with files just simply "out there" to download of old Mac keyboard layouts?

Otherwise, I'm never going to finish this book!



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Create custom keyboard layouts in 10.2
Authored by: patashnik on Dec 05, '03 02:15:12AM
For the people who are interested, check out this page. It contains a link to the mappings file (which works in Panther for me), plus some install instructions.

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Create custom keyboard layouts in 10.2
Authored by: mundie1010 on Feb 02, '04 10:53:48PM
As I said before, I love the XML key layout mechanism. Today I heard from a friend who encountered three bugs in the XML key layout processor, and felt I should pass the information along:

I tried writing XML keylayout files for Arabic, Georgian and Deseret alphabet. After hitting my head against the wall, and rewriting things 15 different ways, without success, I finally got in touch with the right font/Unicode people at Apple.

My three keylayout files were valid but uncovered three bugs. It seems that I was trying to do things that were quite legal, and anticipated in a general way, but never tested.

First, the XML keylayout spec allows you to group named elements inside an element, OR you can put anonymous elements inside entries. Well, there was a bug in the handling of anonymous actions. Workaround: revert to named actions in an actions element.

Second, elements have an attribute named "maxout", which is optional. I had set it at "1", indicating a maximum output of 1 Unicode character at a time. However (second bug) when using dead-key sequences you have to specify maxout="2", even if only one character gets output at a time. And if you are outputting characters from the surrogate space, it needs to be maxout="2" again. Workaround: just don't specify the maxout attribute. It's optional, and even specifying it "correctly" can cause trouble.

Third, I learn that there's a long-standing bug in Cocoa that chokes on dead-key sequences that output surrogate characters. So my Deseret input method didn't work either. No workaround for this one.

Apparently these bugs will be fixed in a future release.

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Extremely annoying that they aren't really XML files...
Authored by: al451 on Feb 19, '04 07:13:03PM

The thing that REALLY annoys me about this feature is that despite what they look like, the keyboard layout files that come with the system (with 10.3, anyway) aren't well-formed XML. They contain lots of characters that are not allowed in XML documents (e.g. ""), which means it's not possible (or at least unreasonably difficult) to read or write them with proper XML tools. You have to wonder what the people at Apple use to maintain them.

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