I recently bought my first mechanical keyboard. The COVID-19 pandemic means I’m switching between my Macbook and a Windows machine throughout the week at the same desk, and while I was comfortable typing on the Macbook, this HP Spectre keyboard and I do not get along. The differences in shortcuts for copy and paste alone were causing me to make enough mistakes to know it was time to invest in a peripheral keyboard.
Alas, I’ve made the leap to a mechanical keyboard, a Durgod K320 in space grey with Cherry Silent Red switches (120$ shipped). Typically, I’m the kind of guy who buys whatever Wirecutter recommends, but their suggestions for mechanical keyboards are bad ones.
Features you Should Demand of a Mechanical Keyboard
- the ability to remap any key
- multiple profiles of key mappings
Wirecutter recommends the Varmilo VA87M and the Leopold FC750R. I couldn’t determine if these keyboards include software that makes it easy to remap keys while shopping. The Leopold’s keycaps don’t have legends for the multimedia controls of the function keys, so users will have to memorize the alternate roles of F5 through F12, print their own legend, or change the keycaps. I can’t support these accessibility shortcomings.
Durgod Zeus Engine Only Runs on Windows
The keyboard I bought has companion software to customize the key map and save multiple profiles. That software is called Durgod Zeus Engine, and it only runs on Windows. That might be a showstopper for some, but not I.
The changes I’ve made to make this keyboard macOS friendly are as follows:
- Swap Left Ctrl and Left Windows keys (macOS’ command defaults to the Left Windows key instead of Alt, which is weird and why freedom to customize is important.)
- Map Home to Left Windows + Right Arrow
- Map End to Left Windows + Left Arrow
- Map PgUp to Left Ctrl + Up Arrow
- Map PgDn to Left Ctrl + Down Arrow
How to Swap Two Keys in Durgod Zeus Engine
It was not immediately obvious to me how to swap two keys in Zeus Engine, because the moment you remap a key, you can’t press it to indicate it’s previous meaning anymore.
To swap Left Ctrl and Left Windows, I would change the Ctrl key and then lose the ability to map any key to Left Ctrl, because it now means Left Windows.
The trick is to map a third key like PgUp to Left Ctrl, map Left Ctrl to Left Windows, and map Left Windows to Left Ctrl by pressing PgUp where that value is stored.
Save Profiles to the Keyboard
In order to preserve your custom key maps and profiles when switching between computers, you need to download the profiles to the keyboard. This feature is slightly hidden in the screen where you can rename a profile.
Click Profiles, highlight one, and click the button with the pen icon to bring up the profile properties like name. A button DOWNLOAD PROFILE TO KEYBOARD appears, and that’s a button you should click on each profile before leaving the Zeus Engine software.
How to Switch Between Profiles
Hold Fn and press F12. The M light will illuminate to confirm the alternate profile activation.