Using a German PC Keyboard with a Mac

Quite some time ago (just 4 weeks before Apple announcing the Intel-bases Macintoshes, sigh...) I've bought a G5-Mac to check out Cocoa, Objective C and XCode. What I didn't anticipate, however, is that Apple for some reason put all the "special" keys relevant for programming at some arbitrary but confusing positions on their perverse keyboards. Maybe it's not a problem with English keyboards, but German Mac keyboards are totally different from standard German PC keyboards.

Now, I'd rather prefer not to relearn my keyboarding habits. So in order to use a normal (German) PC keyboard you need a special keyboard layout file which tells your Mac how to properly interpret the individual keypresses. Apple, of course, does only supply such files for their own keyboards but not for standard off-the-shelf hardware.

I've attempted to come up with such a keyboard layout file: Click here and download it.

And this is how it works:

  • Just download the file. Here's the link again: PC_DE.keylayout.

  • This file needs to be copied where Mac OS X expects keyboard layout files. If the layout should be available for alluserts, that's HD → Library → Keyboard Layouts. So just put it there with the Finder.

    Moving PC_DE.keylayout with the finder.

    If you don't have write permissions for this folder, you can at least put the file into the Library → Keyboard Layouts folder inside your personal folder. In this case the new keyboard layout is available only for you but not for any other user of your Mac.

  • Log off and on again.

  • Then you can open the System Preferences from the Apple menu and open the International settings. The Keyboard-Menu should now have a new entry, namely "PC-Tastatur, Deutsch". So just put a check mark in front of that entry and remove the check mark from the entry that was selected before. (Which, by default, for German Macs is "Deutsch").

  • Done!

Doesn't work!

Lately I've received some feedback that the keyboard layout doesn't seem to appear in the International dialog. And indeed -- when I attempted to install it on the companies new MacMini it surely didn't show up.

At the moment I don't have an idea what might cause this. I think it might be some MIME-type vs. Creater-Code clusterfuck.

That being said, I don't think I can (nor do I want to) do anything about it. If you can't get it to work, just try downloading it with a different browser than Safari. In the company downloading the file using Opera did the trick.

Here's the file again, zipped. Maybe it works after unpacking. Maybe not. Caveat emptor.