I heaped all sorts of praise on Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Trackpad 2 when they launched at the end of 2015. Everyone adored the prior Apple Wireless Keyboard (for the most part, me too), but the Magic Keyboard seemed to surpass all expectations. Apparently I went this far in my praise:
Don’t need a keypad? The Magic Keyboard is getting close to being the perfect keyboard for everything else.
That’s about as definitive as I could have been.
Of course, Apple listened to me and launched a Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad about a year and a bit later, ensuring I had to stand by my definitive words and purchase yet another keyboard.1
Since then, I’ve been using the Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad as much as humanly possible, both because it largely inhabits everything I thought I wanted in a keyboard, and because I want to use my MacBook Pro’s keyboard sparingly to ensure it still has resale value in a few years.2
My peak experience with the Magic Keyboard was on day one. Ever since, day by day, that experience has diminished. Slowly. But surely.
For one, my Magic Keyboard has suffered from that warping everyone talked about a few months ago. Does it inhibit the ability to type? No, not directly. But it drives me nuts every time I look at it.
Second, the Magic Keyboard has four feet on the bottom to give it some sort of friction with the desk. My current desk is on the shinier, more slippery side, so this is working against the Magic Keyboard from the start. However, those feet have tended to collect dust — dust which needs to be rubbed off, otherwise the Magic Keyboard slides all over the desk when typing. I suppose I could purchase a leather desk mat to keep the keyboard from sliding around. But I shouldn’t have to.
Third, I’ve begun to notice the impact Apple’s butterfly mechanism keys are having on my fingers and wrists. Like everyone else, when I get on a roll, it becomes easy to hammer down on a key just a little too hard. Do that hundreds and thousands of times and you’re left with sore fingers and wrists. In my cold basement, I feel like that impact is only exacerbated.
Add up one, two, and three, and you have a bent keyboard that slides around and causes typing fatigue after an hour or so. I don’t have to stand for that.
Jaclyn and I began our spring cleaning this past weekend. As we went through one of the rooms, I found my old trusty Wired Apple Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. It still has the old font Apple had on its previous generation keyboards. The function key row is a half-key size. There’s still that little “Dashboard” icon on the F4 key. I had to grab a small flathead screwdriver to lift the period/full stop key and I blew a crumb out from underneath to get the key working again. And, almost unbearably, I had to plug it in via a USB-C to USB-A adapter to the back of the LG UltraFine Display.
But with every keystroke, I feel like I’m strumming an old guitar. My fingers don’t hurt. The keyboard isn’t sliding everywhere. The keyboard isn’t bent.
And much to Apple’s chagrin, I haven’t randomly made incorrect keystrokes because of “less accurate, old-generation key mechanisms.” It’s all marketing hullabaloo.
If there is one product category Apple continues to dish out flop after flop, it’s keyboards. Butterfly Keyboard Numero Uno on the original 12-inch MacBook was horrible — I jammed up that keyboard in just one week of testing. Butterfly Keyboard Number Two (in the current MacBook Pros) doesn’t jam as quickly, but it’s pretty terrible — I know at least a few people who have had their entire keyboard replaced. And while the smaller Magic Keyboard is mostly praised, I know I’m not the only person to complain about warping on the larger Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.
Also, what’s with Apple charging extra money for the space grey Magic Keyboard? Slow golf clap Apple — I hope that extra $10 flows right to your bottom line.
Go to eBay, search for an old Wired Apple Keyboard, and strum away to your heart’s content. Or, as I’m thinking about doing this weekend, take a long hard look at the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic Keyboard — it may not work 100% perfectly with macOS, but with an app like Karabiner, this ergo keyboard may be a top choice.