Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 Mac Driver

Easily zoom in on pictures, maps, documents, and Web pages—without taking your hand off the keyboard. Comfort Curve design. Designed by ergonomic experts for enhanced comfort and style, the Comfort Curve Design keyboard helps your hands rest in a more natural position. Tilt Wheel Technology. The natural arc keyboard layout follows the curve of your fingertips for a more natural way of typing. Reverse tilt design positions the keyboard at the correct angle to give you a straight, neutral wrist position. Additionally, the shape of the mouse is designed for maximum wrist comfort. Here Are Some Other Tips To Remember. Take frequent breaks. Use software and hardware features like fast scrolling to work more efficiently. Avoid glare by placing your monitor away from light sources. Keep your wrists in line with your forearms. Do not use wrist rest areas while typing.

For touch typists only, the MS' ergonomic keyboard may seem awkward, but it looks great and has a feel to match.'> 3 November 2005,Comments: 4 November 2005 R. Scott Clark

Keyboard Design

The wrist rest is literally built onto the keyboard and is not removable, but there’s nothing to complain about it. Why? Its Leatherette cushioning is friggin’ comfortable, by far the best wrist rest I’ve laid palms on.

The USB-only Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 does away with the unsightly beige coloring of its predecessors, favoring a sleek black design with silver edges and media keys. Nearly all of the corners are now rounded, including the edges of the 6 and 7 keys and those keys on the leftmost and rightmost sides of the keyboard to present an aesthetically pleasing and modernized look.

Like the Natural keyboards before it, this one splits the keyboard in half at a 12º angle to straighten your wrists with the alignment of the keys instead of bending your wrists at an awkward angle and cramming them together like traditional keyboards force you to do. Also, if you take a look at your hands, all your fingers will (hopefully) be of different lengths, the middle finger being the longest of the curved bunch. The rows of keys on the keyboard mimic this in what Microsoft calls a Gull Wing design, subtly curving the keys to better meet the placement of the fingers. Take a look at the two photos below, you can clearly see the difference these adjustments make.

It should be noted that the split keyboard design will only work for you if you know how to touch type. Two finger peckists will find the layout slow, and gamers will find that keys on the other side of the split are just too far to reach in the middle of a firefight. If you can touch type however and work in front of a keyboard all day, the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard is more likely to fit your lifestyle.

The Microsoft does more than just split the keyboard and curve the keys to try and provide a better typing experience. A lot of the emphasis is placed on elevation. Think about this, when you just plop your hand on a table, it probably doesn’t lay flat, but more likely it sits at a more vertical angle with the thumb raised in the air as if you were about to shake hands with someone. While the Natural keyboard doesn’t quite match this, it does slightly conform to the handshake posture with a 14º angle raising the vertical center of the keyboard.

What’s more, Microsoft totally rethought the concept of a raised keyboard. If you know anything about ergonomics (I’m still learning too), it’s always stated that your wrists be flat and not bent upwards. Despite this, many keyboards can be raised at the back using stands and this puts a strain on the tendons under the wrist. While the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard can also be raised at the rear, there’s a platform that connects to the front of the keyboard to create the exact opposite, a reverse 7º slope.

They seem to really be pushing it too, because it’s already connected when the box is opened. Using the reverse slope was very awkward at first, but I noticed two things about it. It forces me to sit upright to reach all the keys, and my arms are in the recommended 90º angle. Strangely enough I’ve come to prefer using the Natural keyboard with the reverse slope over using it flat, although I can no longer shut my keyboard tray because of it.

I managed to get a hold of the older Natural Keyboard Pro for comparison, and was able to conclude that the keys are not only much quieter to the touch, but they are also easier to press and travel slightly more when pressed. As such, I find the keys to be more responsive and not nearly as distracting.

Extra Functionality

The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 ships with the IntelliType Pro 5.3 drivers to control all the hot keys of the keyboard to unlock the potential of the keyboard. At the top of the keyboard the small blue buttons that were present on the Natural Keyboard Pro are now replaced with silver rounded rectangles representing various functions. In the top center of the keyboard are five favorites keys labeled 1-5, not bound to anything by default. Pressing the star key underneath them will open a dialog box to assign each of them the task of opening a folder, file, or website. These can be particularly handy for quickly launching a text editor to take notes or opening a share on the network.

In the top left are three buttons for accessing your default browser’s home page, search page, and to launch an email client. On the far right are keys for muting and controlling the volume, pausing the current media player, and launching the calculator. The F-keys also double as enhanced function keys for common office commands, enabled by an F-Lock key next to the F-12 key. Both the regular hot keys and the enhanced function keys can be reprogrammed to perform one of several common commands, launch a program, or website. Just know that pressing Play/Pause will inconveniently bring the media player to front.

A few other points of interest about the Natural keyboard is the status indicators have been relocated from the center of the split to make room for a zoom slider, and now lie below the space bar along with new back and forward buttons that can alternatively be reprogrammed to skip through MP3s. The logoff and sleep keys that were above the number pad are now replaced with an extra row of keys including the equals key, start and close parentheses, and a backspace key. Oh, and that evil vertical 5-key arrangement above the arrow keys on some Microsoft keyboards thankfully didn’t make its way to the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard, it’s just the classic 6-key arrangement the way it was meant to be.

One curious thing I noticed was the Mac logo on the box. While there are no alternative printings for Command or Option on the modifier keys like on some Logitech keyboards, there is indeed a OS X .dmg install image on the included CD, and the software is very similar to the Windows version, with support for the favorites and multimedia controls as well as zooming. The Windows and Alt (option) keys are switched by default to match the standard Mac keyboard layout, and the right-click key is a hot key that can either be programmed to a keystroke (Cmd-Tab by default), or converted into another Windows key. Support for enhanced function keys is not present, but the ability to have different key assignments per application via profiles is, something the Windows users don’t have.

Recap

The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is a serious keyboard for safety- and comfort- conscious touch typists. Although awkward to use at first especially with the reverse slope attachment, I have found myself able to type for longer periods of time without discomfort and have a better posture when typing as opposed to my usual slouch permitted by any other keyboard. The keys are of good quality and are quiet yet tactile, and the curved gull-wing alignment of the keys conforms to the arc of my fingers rather nicely.

The padded Leatherette wrist rest is a blessing from the heavens, and with the exception of the play/pause button the hot-keys are very handy in reducing keystrokes. My only real complaint is the lack of a USB hub. If you know how to touch type and are even the slightest bit concerned with getting Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, I strongly suggest giving this keyboard a try.

Ergonomic Keyboards on Amazon

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The PC based systems use our exclusive and feature rich Drive Manager software with advanced functions while standalone systems are ultra-fast, high speed copiers duplicating gigabytes of data quickly and accurately.How_delightfulsays: November 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

There are three different models with three different prices of this 4000 model here. Any idea if I should get the 00010, 00012 or 00028?

Simon Ravhøjsays: August 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Remember a vertical mouse!

William Warren McGinnissays: May 10, 2013 at 7:10 am

Where is the “function” key on this keyboard?

Chris Novasays: June 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

right above the backspace

By David Röthlisberger. Comments welcome at [email protected]

Last updated 4 Oct 2011. This article is Creative Commons licensed.

The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 doesn’t feel very “Mac-like”, at least not out-of-the-box. Read on for helpful settings to improve the experience, and a brief review of the keyboard at the end.

If your kernel panics, upgrade the drivers

OS X kernel panic

On Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6), the IntelliType Pro 8.0 drivers caused me kernel panics at least once a day.

Ergonomic Keyboard For Apple

The recent 8.2 driversdon’t cause kernel panics on Lion (OS X 10.7). I haven’t tested them on Snow Leopard, but I assume it is the new drivers, rather than the new Operating System, that contain the fix. Readers have reported that the older 7.1 drivers work well with Snow Leopard (note that the 7.1 drivers say they are for the older Natural Keyboard Pro, but they also work for this newer keyboard). Let me know if you have tested other combinations of driver/OS versions.

Or don't use the Microsoft drivers at all

Ironically, the Microsoft drivers stop OS X from recognising the keyboard for what it is! Without the drivers, OS X reports “Natural® Ergonomic Keyboard 4000”; with the IntelliType drivers, it’s a mere “Keyboard”.

With IntelliType drivers

Update

As the last straw, if you remap your Caps Lock key to Control via Apple’s Keyboard preference pane, with the Microsoft drivers installed the remapping will be lost every time you restart.

The following table should help you decide whether you want the Microsoft drivers. More detailed explanations follow.

With Microsoft IntelliType driversWithout Microsoft drivers
Kernel panics with 8.0 drivers on Snow Leopard; fine with 8.2 drivers on Lion.No kernel panics.
Modifier key mappings...
lost every time you restart.aren't lost.
You can swap the Alt and Windows keys...
with the IntelliType software.with KeyRemap4MacBook.
You can use the Application key as a Command or Option key...
with the IntelliType software.with KeyRemap4MacBook.
Media keys all work correctly.

Only mute, volume and play/pause keys work. Web, search, mail, calculator, favourites 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, back and forward, and the zoom slider don’t work.

How to uninstall the Microsoft drivers

The IntelliType UnInstaller is in the Utilities sub-folder of your Applications folder. (If you installed the IntelliPoint mouse drivers, which were bundled in the same installer, the corresponding UnInstaller is in the same location.)

If you don’t want to run the uninstallers, you can remove the following manually:

  • /System/Library/Extensions/MicrosoftKeyboard.kext

  • /System/Library/Extensions/MicrosoftMouse.kext (if you also installed the IntelliPoint drivers)

  • /Library/Keyboard Layouts/Microsoft Keyboards.bundle

  • and the Microsoft Keyboard preference pane (open System Preferences, and right-click the Microsoft Keyboard icon, or drag it off the window in a puff of smoke).

Swap the Alt and Windows keys

Microsoft Natural modifier keys

The Windows key is automatically treated as Command (⌘), but on Apple keyboards the Command key is next to the spacebar, with Option (Alt) the next key out. On the Microsoft keyboard this is reversed, and the IntelliType drivers helpfully have a setting to reverse these two keys; luckily OS X also has this functionality built in.

It’s under the Modifier Keys button of the Keyboard System Preferences pane.

Simply map Option to Command, and vice-versa. These settings are per-keyboard, so you won’t mess up your MacBook’s built-in keyboard.

While you’re here you can also map your Caps Lock to Control, if you so wish.

Use the Application key as a Command or Option key

Application key

To the right of the spacebar, this keyboard has an “Application” (or Context Menu) key instead of a Windows key. The IntelliType drivers include a setting to treat this key as Command, but OS X has no such setting.

Apple’s customizable XML keylayouts only allow mapping key codes to output characters, but not changing or adding modifier keys. Graphical interfaces built on top of this mechanism, such as Ukelele, have the same limitations. You’ll need the open-source KeyRemap4MacBook.

In spite of its name, KeyRemap4MacBook works on any Mac (with OS X 10.4 or later). It doesn’t allow arbitrary key mappings, but, in the best open-source tradition, it does have zillions of settings. The one you want is under “For PC Users” » “Change PC Application Key” » “Application Key to Option_L” (i.e. left-option, not option+“L”). What you set here doesn’t seem to be affected by OS X’s own modifier keys remapping.

Ergonomic

Media keys

The keyboard’s mute, volume and play/pause keys all work out of the box, no IntelliType required. There are no keys for previous/next song.

(Without the Microsoft drivers) None of the remaining media keys work (web/home, search, mail, calculator, “favorites” 1 through 5, back and forward, and the zoom slider).

Function keys

The Function keys (F1, etc) behave as such (as opposed to brightness, volume, etc), regardless of what you set in the Keyboard preference pane. If you press “F Lock” the F keys simply do nothing. Luckily the F Lock remembers its setting across reboots.

There is no Fn modifier key as on the Mac keyboards.

KeyRemap4MacBook allows you to map the F keys to the usual brightness, volume, etc. but then you’d lose the normal F keys.

Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, Page Down

On the Mac OS there is no such thing as an Insert/Overwrite toggle (even on Apple’s extended keyboard there is no Insert key). So unsurprisingly, the Insert key does nothing.

Delete works. Page-Up and -Down work. Home and End scroll to the top and bottom of the window instead of moving the cursor to the beginning or end of the line (but this is consistent with the behaviour of Apple keyboards) except in Microsoft Office, where Home and End behave as on the PC.

Numeric keypad

Num Lock doesn’t work, but fortunately it is stuck in the numeric mode.

Final thoughts

I initially liked this keyboard: The split and tenting angles provide a comfortable resting position, it has Command, Option and Control keys for both hands, and the price is quite reasonable.

Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 Mac

But after several months, I have stopped using this keyboard. It’s just too large! Keys like Return, Backspace, and Escape are quite far away from the home position. I don’t really need a numeric keypad (it forces the mouse that much further away). The keys are loud (especially the clunky spacebar) and the key travel distance (and the force required to press them) is more than I’d like.

These are of course quite personal opinions, and this keyboard could be just perfect for someone else. As a computer programmer I do a lot of typing, so I try to optimise for ergonomics.

Kinesis Freestyle for Mac:
No right-hand Control key

I really like having all three modifiers (Command, Option and Control) available to my left and right hands, though this may not be so important for non-programmers. I don’t think I’d buy an ergonomic keyboard without this feature. The Kinesis keyboards, and Apple’s own keyboards (except the Apple external keyboard with numeric keypad), lack the right-hand Control.

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