It's almost 2018, and your MacBook will be one year older soon.
For all the hours you spend typing on your MacBook's keyboard, it's time to find out if using an external keyboard may be better for your workflow.
After all, making your workspace your own has many advantages. With an external keyboard, you'll have greater freedom to position your Mac at a comfortable viewing height and distance, be able to clear space by raising it on a MacBook stand but still type, and do your work without worrying that you're developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
For those of you who use an old MacBook Pro with some keys broken or not functioning well, getting an external keyboard means increased productivity. And you don't need to spend the time and extra cost for key replacement.
In this article, we'll show you a list of the best wireless keyboards, and help you pick the right one and put the spotlight on a few of our personal favorites.
External keyboards come in a variety of styles and many offer special quirks that other brands may not. Here's our breakdown of what's best when it comes to available features:
- For a classic mechanical keyboard with a modern touch, we recommend Logitech MK520 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo.
- For a full-size keyboard with glossy, flat keys and a USB dongle connection, we recommend Arteck HB030B Universal Slim Portable Wireless Keyboard.
- For a compact and Bluetooth option that will work on more than one device, we recommend Anker Ultra-Slim Universal Rechargeable Bluetooth Keyboard.
- For the official Apple option that is sure to work perfectly with your MacBook, we recommend Apple Magic Keyboard.
Who Should (or Should NOT) Get This?
External keyboards can be a great asset to your MacBook setup. They offer a variety of benefits, such as greater adjustability and positioning freedom for your screen. You can also sit further away from the harsh light, which is better for your eyes (and health).
If you plan on selling your MacBook eventually, an external keyboard will prevent the built-in keys from accumulating wear and tear. That means your Mac laptop will get higher residual value.
You'll also benefit most from a keyboard if you're someone who tends to use your MacBook Pro along with other device or papers that take up a lot of space on your desk, or in a relaxed environment where you have the freedom to spread out as much as you need.
That said, an external keyboard will be less helpful if you tend to use your MacBook Pro while commuting, in isolation, or do not have enough space at your workplace to expand.
Also, for those who own the newest MacBook Pro with the beautiful touch bar, you'll be giving up easy access to Apple's latest innovation if you choose to purchase an external keyboard.
So, as you see: it's not always a good (nor bad) idea to buy an external keyboard for your MacBook, all depending on your goals and preferences. If you've decided to purchase one, make sure you also learn the following criteria.
Buying an External Keyboard for Mac: What to Consider?
The first thing to consider when choosing an external keyboard is the style, which is dependent on your needs. Many laptop owners are used to membrane style keyboards, which means your keys travel a short distance and press very quietly.
But if you're getting an external keyboard, you may prefer the mechanical keyboard that produces the classic "clacking" sound while you work. You should also determine if you need a full-size keyboard with a number pad or just the standard QWERTY lineup.
If you only plan on using it at a single location, you might be fine with a wired option. But if you're always on the go, wireless is probably the better choice. Additionally, wireless keyboards come in several different types themselves. Many models use Bluetooth, but a good amount of keyboards use a USB dongle instead.
If you plan on going wireless, battery life is definitely a factor to consider. Most external keyboards will be battery-operated, but some are rechargeable. Whichever you end up choosing, you should keep checking if the charge length is long enough not to inconvenience you.
The Best MacBook Pro Keyboards: Our Picks
Please note that all the products listed below are chosen based on the guidelines above and our personal preferences. They are not in any particular order and offer their own advantages and disadvantages.
From the long-trusted Logitech brand, this mechanical keyboard is complete with a number pad and comes with a free mouse as well. It's a great option if you're looking for a modern wireless keyboard with an old-school touch in the form of classic clicking keys.
- Pros: It's battery operated and claims a 3-year lifetime before batteries need to be replaced. The mechanical style is great if you don't like membrane keys. Also, it has a number pad and shortcuts keys.
- Cons: Plastic keys are rougher than classic Mac keys, and may feel unappealing in comparison.
If you're looking for a full-sized membrane keyboard but don't want to sacrifice a good sized chunk of space, this model from Arteck is beautifully designed and it's much smaller than a standard keyboard. It also offers function keys and a glossy finish.
- Pros: It's small enough to carry easily. The membrane keys are smooth and can be pressed easily. It also includes programmable hotkeys, can be connected via USB dongle.
- Cons: It uses a "Windows" key rather than "Command" despite Mac compatible, and the keyboard may feel cramped.
With this keyboard, you won't be limited to just your MacBook - it's compatible with your iPad as well. It's about 30% smaller than your normal laptop keyboard, so your desk will remain uncluttered. The 6-month battery life means you won't be worried about lack of charge when it's time to work.
- Pros: The rechargeable battery can last for 6 months. It has clean white style, Bluetooth connection, extremely compact and slim. Also, it's very light and weighs in at a featherlight about 13 ounces.
- Cons: Keys might feel cramped compared to a normal keyboard, and there's no number pad.
Made by Apple for Apple, the magic keyboard is the best option if you're a pure Apple fan who decides to go all the "Apple" way to your setup. It's a clean membrane keyboard that comes in silver and white that will flawlessly match your MacBook Pro.
- Pros: It's designed and made by Apple, one of the world's most trusted brands. Apple Magic Keyboard is beautiful with clean design, and it's extremely light and comfortable to carry around.
- Cons: It's a bit pricey and certainly not the most portable design available while compared to some of our other recommendations. Also, it doesn't have a numeric keypad which can be a productivity boost if you deal with numbers on a regular basis.
Useful Tips & Resources
Sometimes it's less about what keyboard you use, rather more about how you use it. If you're interested in some helpful key shortcuts, check out this list from ComputerWorld that will reduce the amount of time you spend unnecessarily clicking on certain tasks.
Maintaining and cleaning your keyboard is also necessary if you want to maximize its life and keep it in good shape, you may be interested in reading this article from Logitech where the author shared four quick tips to keep your device clean.
If you've decided to purchase an external keyboard, also consider adding these two items to your shopping cart:
- HomeDoReMi Keyboard Cleaner - which helps remove dust, hair, and crumbs from the surface of a keyboard.
- MECO Cleaning Kits Tools for Keyboard - which helps clear off dirt from inside the keyboard.
An external keyboard is a fantastic investment if you like versatility in your workplace. It will allow you greater comfort and help you be more productive by allowing you to customize your workplace.
Do you already use an external keyboard with your MacBook Pro? Tell us which model you use and what your experience has been like.
Published Nov 10, 2017.