Using a British/UK Windows keyboard with an Apple Mac in OS X (2)

This page has been superseded by these instructions as of 20 November 2005.

This page was originally at http://www.gyford.com/misc/windows_keyboard_mac.php

For more background information, see also the even older instructions.

If you have a Mac and want to use a keyboard that’s designed to be used with a British Windows-based PC, you’ll notice that some of the keys don’t produce the expected characters. @ and ” are generally swapped, for example. In addition the Command (Apple), Option and Control keys may be swapped round. Each of these problems needs to be tackled separately…


Moving Command, Option and Control keys

uControl lets you swap and change the Command, Option and Control keys around via a moderately friendly System Prefences pane. I think it was originally based on DoubleCommand.

Move punctuation keys

This method only works with versions of OS X of 10.2 and over; for previous versions read the older instructions. With any luck you may be able to simply download this file, un-Stuff it so you end up with British-Windows.rsrc, and then place this in your /Library/Keyboard Layouts/ directory. Then log out, or restart. Go to System Preferences, open the International pane, then the Input Menu tab. You should see “British - Windows” as an option in the list of layouts. Check the box next to it. If this is the only layout you have checked, you should now be able to type correctly on your PC keyboard. If you have more than one layout checked, select the “British - Windows” option from the keyboard icon in your menu bar.

If some of the keys in your layout are still wrong, you’ll need to do some more extensive fiddling… First, download ResEdit, which runs in Classic or OS 9. Make a copy of your British-Windows.rsrc and open it in ResEdit. Double-click the KCHR resource and then double-click the only item in that.

These instructions may help you with modifying the keyboard mappings. To give you a start, here’s a step-by-step guide to how I changed Shift-2 to result in a ” rather than @:

  1. The window you have open consists of three areas. The largest, top-left area lists all the possible characters that could be printed. Next to that is a smaller area of “slots”, each relating to a keypress. Each of these can be assigned a character from the first area. The bottom of the window shows a keyboard (the layout of which you can change using the “View As…” item from the KHCR menu).
  2. When you hold the Shift key the characters on the keyboard section of the window change to show what each key generates with Shift held down. You can see the 2 key changes to “. We want this to be @. While holding the Shift key, click the ” on the keyboard section. The ” square on both the upper sections of the window are also highlighted. We want to replace the ” in the right-hand section with a @ from the left-hand section.
  3. Note where the highlighted ” in the right-hand section is. Find the @ in the left-hand section and drag it to the right-hand square that contains the “. That’s it! Now you need to swap the @ in the right-hand section for a ” using a similar process and then find which other characters in the keyboard section don’t match the positions of those on your real keyboard.

Once you’ve finished, save the file and put it in your /Library/Keyboard Layouts/ directory.


I adapted the keyboard resource available as USInternational, so thanks to Rainer Brockerhoff for his work; it makes things far simpler than the old method. I’m using a US PowerBook G3 and a British layout Goldtouch Ergonomic keyboard with OS X 10.2.3.