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Can I use different keyboards with my computer?

Answer: Generally, yes. Most modern keyboards use a standard USB interface, which means as long as your computer has one or more USB ports, you can connect a USB keyboard to it. Additionally, keyboards send input the same way to the computer. This means when you type a key, such as the letter "K," it will be recognized as the "K" character by the computer no matter what keyboard you are using.

While standard characters like letters, numbers, the Shift key, Enter key, Escape key, etc. should work with all keyboards, special keys and buttons may not. Many keyboards today offer extra buttons, such as volume control, play/pause buttons, and shortcuts that open applications. While some of these keys may work automatically, others may require you to install drivers or third-party software for the keyboard. Keyboard manufacturers, such as Logitech and Kensington, offer drivers and software utilities that allow you to customize the input for different keys on your keyboard.

Since both Macintosh and Windows-based computers both use USB keyboards, you can use most keyboards with either platform. However, the modifier keys may be different depending on what operating system the keyboard was designed for. For example, when using a Windows keyboard on a Mac, the Alt key may serve as the Command key and the Windows key may function as the Option key. When using a Mac keyboard on a Windows machine, the Option key may serve as the Alt key and the Command key may function as the Windows key. If these key mappings are not ideal, downloading the keyboard software should allow you to change them to suit your preferences.

Published: January 25, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center