Getting shit done on Windows, Part 1: Make a Mac keyboard useful

Getting shit done on Windows, Part 1: Make a Mac keyboard useful

Jul 11
Getting shit done on Windows, Part 1: Make a Mac keyboard useful

So I recently (OK, like 6 months ago) acquired a MacBook Pro and it is awesome. As far a portable computers go the hardware is a work of art; there is literally nothing out there at the moment that compares. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) I can’t make myself like OSX (and I have tried, several times) and so I run Windows 7 on my portable computational machine of pure awesome. And it works exceedingly well too, except for one minor issue: there isn’t a freaking ‘Insert’ button anywhere to be found.

This wasn’t that big of a deal, you eventually learn to work around it by pressing weird combinations to get the same result. On a MacBook Pro, to get “Ctrl + Insert” (copy) you need to press “Fn + Ctrl + Backspace” and for “Shift + Insert” (paste) you have to press “Fn + Ctrl + Enter”. You pick that up pretty quickly with a bit of practice.

I recently bought myself a Mac keyboard (OK, two keyboards, one for the office and the other for home, that I use in Windows) because to be perfectly honest, it is also a work of art and it is by far the best keyboard I’ve ever used and let me assure you, I was very attached to my Das Keyboard. The standard Mac keyboard suffers from the same problem as the MacBook Pro: no ‘Insert’ key.

It is entirely possible to live without an ‘Insert’ key on Windows but I spend most of my time using gVim as an editor, Firefox with Vimperator as a browser and the rest of the time I work on Linux terminals through putty. To copy and paste in all of these things, having an ‘Insert’ button is just… easier.

I spent some time searching Google for ways to map some other key on a Mac keyboard to an ‘Insert’ button and found a bunch of things on hot keys and macro’s, none of them were acceptable but fear not, the mission was a success. I did find a program that will help you re-map a key to another key on your beautiful Mac keyboard: “Key Tweak”.

You can download “Key Tweak” for Windows here: or directly from me here: download Key Tweak

Download it, install it, try not to freak out at the CGA colour scheme and run it. It pops up a screen with a keyboard and a bunch of functions that help you re-map keys. I took the liberty of re-mapping the F13 key to ‘Insert’ since Windows doesn’t care about F13 and it’s close enough to where the ‘Insert’ key is supposed to be to be comfortable.

  • Click on the ‘Half teach mode’ button
  • Click the ‘Scan a single key’ button
  • Press the F13 key
  • Select ‘Insert’ from the destination key drop down
  • Click ‘Remap’
  • Click ‘Apply’
  • Restart your computer

And you’re done. Happy days are here again. You might also want to re-map F14 through 19 to ‘Insert’ cos… why let a good key go to waste?





  1. Keran

    Umm colour me simple .. but what’s wrong with good ol’ Copy n Paste?

    Windows = CTRL + C, CTRL + V
    Mac = CMND + C, CMND + V

    I’ve never really used insert even when I was a windows nut – so maybe I’m missing something?

  2. shawn

    You are indeed missing something…

    Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V works just fine as long as you’re using a windows program. It’s possible to map Ctrl + C/V in Vim but that doesn’t work over putty or on Linux. It doesn’t always work in Vimpterator either.

    And, while ‘i’ works fine for insert mode in Vim, using ‘Insert’ is easier since that’s what I’ve been using for years…

  3. shawn

    And, that was you coloured simple.

  4. Keran

    err … well then, that’s a colourful way to start the day


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