A Developer’s Apple Wireless Setup

written by jonathantneal on August 5, 2015 in Setup with 2 comments

I’m a big fan of Apple’s Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. Like a preferred IDE or bash profile, finding the right combination and configuration are part of what makes our work a joy. I’ve spent a lot of time getting them into a place that feels right for me, so I’d like to share a bit about my setup and maybe read about yours as well in the comments.

Apple Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad
Aww yiss

Lemme get some fandom out of the way. The Magic Trackpad is hands down the best pointer device yet imagined, ensuring my Magic Mouse’s place alongside old audio cables and SSDs. And if the trackpad is Sherlock Holmes then Watson is wireless keyboard. While certainly not as dreamy, I can not deny the solid, sleek, and secure appeal of metal. Together, they’re perfectly, almost compulsively paired. But being so close to perfection actually makes their imperfections easy to spot.

Someone sadly attempting to use the keyboard and trackpad on their lap
But you have to admire the dedication

Beyond the visual symmetry and side-by-side appeal, I’d sometimes prefer the keyboard and trackpad combined into a kind of Megazord. Plus, it might be nice to keep them on my lap. Enter Magic Connector.

Snapping the trackpad into the Magic Connector
Aw, snap!

Magic Connection magnetically binds the Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad to a single, solid strip of aluminum. This lets me to snap and separate the two as I please. You could swap their positions depending on how you want them arranged, too. Its a full-depth base so I can keep using the trackpad click from my lap. It is exactly what I want.

Someone using the Magic Connector by two swimming pools with a laptop
What glare?

With that out of the way, my issues are now limited to the wireless keyboard. And can you guess what the number one complaint is?

Inigo Montoya saying: I want my numpad back

Enter Numpad Touch.

Numpad Touch configuration

Numpad Touch is a free tool that lets you use your Magic Trackpad like a numeric keyboard by holding down the fn key. This is similar to something Mobee attempted with the Magic Numpad. While Mobee’s seemed riddled with issues, Numpad Touch works flawlessly, as long as you make the effort to memorize the Basic or Extended layout.

My only complaint is that they’ve strayed from the wired keyboard’s more ideal layout. Still, better than nothing.

Trackpad Numpad with ideal layout
Ideal left-aligned layout
Trackpad Numpad with ideal layout
Ideal right-aligned layout

The last bit of grief comes with the FN key. While a perfect combinator for Numpad Touch, any shortcut that leverages the CTRL key now requires gymnastics. Enter Karabiner.

Karabiner icon

Karabiner is a free tool that lets you re-map your keys without much effort. I used it to make the FN key behave as a CTRL key when pressed in combination with a letter. I also remapped Eject to be a Windows-style DELETE key, which deletes to the right of the cursor.

Karabiner app screenshot
No more tears

From this foundation, the rest dives into workflow preferences, so I’ll leave us here. If some of these tools can help you out, I’m glad I’ve shared. If you’ve found a setup that works better for you, let me know about it in the comments.