Use Razer BlackWidow (PC Edition) on a Mac
This is probably useful only to a few people – but if you are one of the mac users who bought a Razer BlackWidow keyboard (PC), this should be helpful. “BlackWidow” is a mechanical keyboard for a reasonable price, lightyears better than the default apple keyboard. It’s called a “gaming keyboard”, so after unpacking you’re official member of the “Cult of Razer” .. well, then.
PC vs. Mac edition confusion
The BlackWidow keyboard has a PC layout (which I’ll call “PC edition”). There is also a “Mac edition” – but it wasn’t available in Germany and costs about 50€ more than the standard edition, just for having USB ports and illuminated keys.
That’s where things get confusing aka annoying:
- There are OS X drivers from Razer, but only for the “Mac edition”
- According to the FAQ they absolutely don’t work with the “PC edition”
- But: The OS X drivers work flawlessly with the “PC edition”
- The firmware updater is only available as Windows software
This is a standard PC keyboard layout, so..
- Instead of option (alt) keys a “windows key” on the left and the “application key” on the right.
- To the right of the 12 function keys (F1-12) there are the typical 80s IBM keys: “Print”, “Scroll Lock” and “Pause/Break”
- Additionally there are 5 Macro keys (M1-M5) to the left and an FN-key at the bottom to modify volume, record macros – and
Setup in OS X
If you install the keyboard the first time, OS X asks you to press one key in order to identify the keyboard (For a German layout that’s the “<“-key) – now you can use the standard functions.
The next step is to open Keyboard settings in the control panel, click “modifier keys” and swap option and command key. I also disable Caps Lock here. Now you have control, alt and command keys like a mac keyboard – except the right “application key” doesn’t work.. We’ll fix this later.
Mapping “application key” to option
To fix the “application key” we have to do a little bit more. The best (and free) tool is: “KeyRemap4Macbook” (works with all Macs, the name is a bit misleading). Download here and install.
Now open the KeyRemap control panel, click on “Misc & Uninstall” and click “Open private.xml”. Now double-click the file “private.xml” and replace its contents with the xml below, save it and go back to the KeyRemap panel.
<?xml version="1.0"?> <root> <list> <item> <name>Razer Win_Key to Alt_R</name> <identifier>private.razer.winalt</identifier> <autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::PC_APPLICATION, KeyCode::OPTION_R</autogen> </item> </list> </root>
Then choose “Change Key”, click “Reload XML” and if you copied the XML correctly you see a new entry “Razer Win_key to Alt_R”.
As soon as you enable it, the “application key” now finally works as option key..
- Volume and media keys work like labelled on the keys: FN + F1 toggles Mute, etc. If these don’t work, see below for a solution
- To access the shutdown menu (usually Control + Eject), you can use FN + F15 (“Sleep mode”), this works nicely.
Gaming Modeswitch which disables the Windows and Application keys is of course completely useless on the mac.,
Now you could install the Mac drivers from razerzone.com – even if their FAQ states they don’t work. You get an application for remapping keys, creating macros and profiles. This works quite good.
If you DON’T install the razer drivers, the function keys work perfectly – but the five macro keys are without function. The media keys (volume etc.) also don’t work out of the box, but this can be fixed with KeyRemap (see below). Even “macro recording on the fly” doesn’t work – for whatever reasons the driver needs to be installed..
If you DO install the razer drivers, you can use the macro recording function and the media keys (volume, track fwd. etc). But the disadvantage is that the function keys don’t work correctly… Until now it wasn’t possible for me to access F5, F6 and F7.
The driver can be uninstalled without problems, so you can try it out. And maybe, one day, Razer will support the “PC” keyboard at a Mac, who knows…
If you installed the Razer drivers: Macro & Function keys
The “Print”, “Scroll lock”..keys work as function keys (F13 – F15), so ignore the labels and you’ve got
15 some function keys, which can be mapped to Expose, Spaces etc. as you like. Until now I didn’t get all function keys to work.
But the M1-M5 macro keys also work as function keys (F13 – F17) – argh! To fix: Just assign a macro to each of the five keys (either via on-the-fly macro creation or with the Razer software) – and the macro keys work as they should.
BTW: The layout shown in the Razer app isn’t correct (of course, that would be too easy): F18 and F19 do not exist..
No Razer driver installed: Enabling media keys
With KeyRemap4Macbook it’s no problem to enable the media keys (FN+F1 Mute, FN+F2 Volume down etc.). This is only necessary if you didn’t install the Razer driver. Therefore you have to open the private.xml file like above and replace its contents with this XML:
<?xml version="1.0"?> <root> <list> <item> <name>Razer Win_Key to Alt_R</name> <identifier>private.razer.winalt</identifier> <autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::PC_APPLICATION, KeyCode::OPTION_R</autogen> </item> <item> <name>Razer Fix Media Keys</name> <identifier>private.razer.fixmedia</identifier> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F1, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::VOLUME_MUTE</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F2, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::VOLUME_DOWN</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F3, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::VOLUME_UP</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F5, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::MUSIC_PLAY</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F6, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::MUSIC_PLAY</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F7, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::MUSIC_PREV</autogen> <autogen>--KeyToConsumer-- KeyCode::F8, ModifierFlag::FN, ConsumerKeyCode::MUSIC_NEXT</autogen> </item> </list> </root>
That’s it for now
For using this keyboard in OS X this means either
… use it without drivers (Macros: NO, Special keys: MOST, Function keys: YES)
… or use it with the
incompatible Mac drivers (Macros: YES, Special keys: YES, Function keys: ONLY SOME)
As soon as Razer improves its Mac support I’ll update this post (or if there are workarounds for the missing function).