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Old Sep 2, 2009, 03:17 PM   #1
XnavxeMiyyep
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Using two keyboards at once

For ergonomic reasons, I have begun to use two keyboards at once. However, even with Sticky Keys enabled, modifier keys, such as shift and command, pressed on one keyboard, do not affect the other.

Before I delve into Apple's IOKit library in an attempt to write my own driver, I was wondering if anyone was aware of an existing Preference or Utility which fixes this problem.
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 01:14 AM   #2
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Have you every looked into Teleport? You could control both Macs with one keyboard and mouse and avoid the dual keyboards altogether.
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 11:50 AM   #3
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I'm actually using two keyboards for one Mac. One keyboard is on each arm rest, so I can optimally relax my arms. It's like the concept of a split keyboard, except it's wide enough for my chair and I don't have to type properly.
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 12:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XnavxeMiyyep View Post
I'm actually using two keyboards for one Mac. One keyboard is on each arm rest, so I can optimally relax my arms. It's like the concept of a split keyboard, except it's wide enough for my chair and I don't have to type properly.
Wow, you must have some mad skills.

You could just get one of these...

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/freestyle.htm
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Old Sep 3, 2009, 10:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkdiddy View Post
Wow, you must have some mad skills.

You could just get one of these...

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/freestyle.htm
I'd considered that one, but like its comrades, it is a condensed keyboard and the wire is not long enough to easily reach across my chair. I am a huge fan of the black Apple Pro Keyboard.

I suppose since no one else has really cared to deal with this specific issue, I will work on some software solution and then post a link to it when I finish.
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Old Sep 14, 2009, 03:12 PM   #6
Pixiedelion
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2 keyboards

I was just playing with a shoulder brace and noticed how my arms spread out to a distance of about two mac narrow keyboards, did you find a solution to the modifier keys issue, and/or did you find it a show stopper not to have the keys?
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Old Sep 14, 2009, 09:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixiedelion View Post
I was just playing with a shoulder brace and noticed how my arms spread out to a distance of about two mac narrow keyboards, did you find a solution to the modifier keys issue, and/or did you find it a show stopper not to have the keys?
It's slightly annoying to use the modifier keys on the same keyboard (which I currently do). I'm actually working on writing a driver for the solution, although I've never played with Kernel Extensions or device drivers before this weekend.

A friend suggested buying a microcontroller and programming that to act as a single usb keyboard after reading the inputs from two keyboards, because that would work on any system, but I have no experience with ECE-related things, so that's a last resort.

I will let you know if/when I make any progress.
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Old Oct 2, 2009, 05:04 PM   #8
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Dual Keyboards Solution

http://dotdotcomorg.net/Mac/DualKeyboards.zip

I wrote this executable which will make modifier keys from multiple keyboards affect each other on the same machine.

Only tested in 10.5.5, but I don't see why it wouldn't work on other systems.

Now I have to get out of the habit I grew of using the same hand for modifiers.

Special thanks to: OS X Book.com and The Mac OS X Reference Library

EDIT: You must have assistive devices enabled in the Universal Access preference.

Last edited by XnavxeMiyyep; Jul 13, 2010 at 05:44 PM.
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Old Dec 11, 2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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Thank you very much for putting up the executable! It's very useful~
I registered in this forum five minutes ago just to reply to this thread to show my sincere appreciation.

The combination key problem before this executable existed is the main reason holding me to go for dual keyboards solution. With this little program, I'm going to hunt for a pair of new keyboards for my winter coding project

Thanks again!

By the way, I tested the executable on my Macbook 10.5.8, and it works perfectly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by XnavxeMiyyep View Post
http://dotdotcomorg.net/Mac/DualKeyboards.zip

I wrote this executable which will make modifier keys from multiple keyboards affect each other on the same machine.

Only tested in 10.5.5, but I don't see why it wouldn't work on other systems.

Now I have to get out of the habit I grew of using the same hand for modifiers.

Special thanks to: OS X Book.com and The Mac OS X Reference Library
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Old Dec 11, 2009, 06:41 PM   #10
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can you post the pic of your setup?

two keyboards at once would be funky...
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Old Dec 11, 2009, 09:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcit View Post
Thank you very much for putting up the executable! It's very useful~
I registered in this forum five minutes ago just to reply to this thread to show my sincere appreciation.

The combination key problem before this executable existed is the main reason holding me to go for dual keyboards solution. With this little program, I'm going to hunt for a pair of new keyboards for my winter coding project

Thanks again!

By the way, I tested the executable on my Macbook 10.5.8, and it works perfectly.
No problem. Thanks for testing it on a machine that's not mine!

Good luck finding a pair of keyboards you like!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pukifloyd View Post
can you post the pic of your setup?

two keyboards at once would be funky...
Picture attached. The desk is a work in progress!
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Last edited by XnavxeMiyyep; Dec 11, 2009 at 10:09 PM.
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Old Dec 12, 2009, 07:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XnavxeMiyyep View Post
No problem. Thanks for testing it on a machine that's not mine!

Good luck finding a pair of keyboards you like!



Picture attached. The desk is a work in progress!
Thats pretty cool! how do you use mouse?!
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 01:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkdiddy View Post
Wow, you must have some mad skills.

You could just get one of these...

http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/freestyle.htm
FYI - they can be had with either an 8" cable or a 20" cable separating the two halves. 20" might be sufficient for the OP, no?
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 11:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pukifloyd View Post
Thats pretty cool! how do you use mouse?!
I've always been a trackball user. Right now it's just hanging off the edge of that part of the table (used to be on the arm of my chair). I'm going to move it somewhere closer, but I haven't decided how yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xraydoc View Post
FYI - they can be had with either an 8" cable or a 20" cable separating the two halves. 20" might be sufficient for the OP, no?
Yes, but I dislike the "condensed" style keyboard.

I've been looking into this for well over a year actually. All of the split keyboards have the condensed style keyboard.

My plan for awhile was to get an Apple Pro Keyboard and cut it in half, then solder on some extra wires, but I'm not particularly good at electrical engineering.

Eventually I decided to go with two keyboards. This method provides me with the ability to type "improperly" and go over the center with either hand; to have an extra numpad in the center; and to have the familiarity of the Apple Pro Keyboard.
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Old Mar 11, 2010, 11:58 PM   #15
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Still working in 10.6.2!

After non-extensive testing. Capslock is separate on each keyboard, probably as intended.

XnavxeMiyyep, thanks so much for doing this! I am posting a reference to this thread over on an Apple Support Forums thread pleading for this exact solution.

I also created an account here just to chime in on this. Do you think you could post the source code and/or make this a proper project on sourceforge or somewhere similar?

Also, to add to the ergonomics discussion: I'm aiming to have a keyboard on each side of my chair, tilted to be vertical and upside down so I can type with my arms at my sides. Still working on the mouse but one good idea is a foot-operated mouse.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 12:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eecharlie View Post
After non-extensive testing. Capslock is separate on each keyboard, probably as intended.

XnavxeMiyyep, thanks so much for doing this! I am posting a reference to this thread over on an Apple Support Forums thread pleading for this exact solution.

I also created an account here just to chime in on this. Do you think you could post the source code and/or make this a proper project on sourceforge or somewhere similar?

Also, to add to the ergonomics discussion: I'm aiming to have a keyboard on each side of my chair, tilted to be vertical and upside down so I can type with my arms at my sides. Still working on the mouse but one good idea is a foot-operated mouse.
Actually, caps lock had completely slipped my mind, as I have it remapped to control for some extra keyboard shortcuts. I'll fix support for that later.

The reason for my slow response is that I just got back to the US, only to have two broken computers. My laptop has been fixed, but my source code is on my desktop, which I have not yet fixed. So, once I get that back up, I'll be able to put the source code on sourceforge. You may be able to derive something yourself if you look at my links earlier in the thread; if not, I should have it up in a week or so.

I like the foot-mouse idea. I was thinking of making pedals for modifier keys (control, command, etc.) so they would be easier to press.
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 12:13 AM   #17
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Love this idea! I'm way happier that this exists, as I was planning on taking a dremel and soldering iron to my beloved apple aluminum keyboard. Now I can just buy a second slim one! Thanks
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Old Jul 10, 2010, 02:10 PM   #18
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With Gaming Mouse

Greetings, I'm running into a similar problem with dual keyboards, except my 2nd keyboard is actually a gaming mouse with number keys on it called the "Razer Naga".

Unfortunately the program you supplied is not working with my combination of MacBook Pro, recently upgraded os X 10.6.4 and the Razer Naga. If you have a chance the post the source code of the program I might be able to help with the update.
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Old Jul 11, 2010, 05:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daerid View Post
Love this idea! I'm way happier that this exists, as I was planning on taking a dremel and soldering iron to my beloved apple aluminum keyboard. Now I can just buy a second slim one! Thanks
No problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stcorbett View Post
Greetings, I'm running into a similar problem with dual keyboards, except my 2nd keyboard is actually a gaming mouse with number keys on it called the "Razer Naga".

Unfortunately the program you supplied is not working with my combination of MacBook Pro, recently upgraded os X 10.6.4 and the Razer Naga. If you have a chance the post the source code of the program I might be able to help with the update.
http://dotdotcomorg.net/Mac/Source.txt

Much of this is from OS X Book. I just changed it a bit to work for my dual keyboard purposes. Feel free to do what you like with it.
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 02:36 PM   #20
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SuperUser or Universal Access

I figured out why my gaming mouse/keyboard was not working with this program: OS X 10.5 and beyond does not send normal key-presses from the keyboard (a-z, 1-0) to the program by default. Probably as a defense against keylogging programs, Os X system utilities restrict which programs can see key-presses. If you "Enable access for assistive devices" via the Universal Access pane on system preferences, or run the program as the super user it works as designed.

Last edited by stcorbett; Jul 13, 2010 at 02:40 PM. Reason: clarify 'key-presses'
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Old Jul 13, 2010, 05:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stcorbett View Post
I figured out why my gaming mouse/keyboard was not working with this program: OS X 10.5 and beyond does not send normal key-presses from the keyboard (a-z, 1-0) to the program by default. Probably as a defense against keylogging programs, Os X system utilities restrict which programs can see key-presses. If you "Enable access for assistive devices" via the Universal Access pane on system preferences, or run the program as the super user it works as designed.
OK, I always have assistive devices enabled. I'll edit my original post to make note of it.
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Old Aug 15, 2010, 05:20 PM   #22
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Great script

Is there any way to have this run on startup? Also, I've noticed that it stops working every now again when I'm running it in terminal.
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Old Aug 31, 2010, 12:44 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabemartin View Post
Is there any way to have this run on startup? Also, I've noticed that it stops working every now again when I'm running it in terminal.
If you set it as a Login Item in your System Preferences, it should start automatically. Could you give me some details on what happens when it stops working?
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Old Sep 23, 2010, 11:53 AM   #24
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I'm running Snow Leopard 10.6.3 and this works great - I have a USB keyboard plugged into a Macbook Pro, both of them tilted at an angle. Thanks a lot, XnavxeMiyyep.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 05:43 PM   #25
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thank you very much this is really really helpful, macbook pro v10.6.4 and works fine
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