Layout for Mac user

I use a Mac laptop, with a Japanese keyboard, so I’m not only getting used to US key positioning on the Model 01, but also just the general difference of having thumb keys. On Japanese 'boards, we have colon as shift semicolon, " as shift 2, @ as its own key, and so on.

I tried using Chrysalis to configure, but it’s mid-development, and in the end I just decided to give compiling a go over the weekend. Thanks for the good info in the github and this forum.

I put my Arduino sketch (.ino file) and the Keyboard Layout Editor raw file in the Model01 folder of this repository.

The below graphic was generated here.

Here are a few points to make about this layout:

  • esc moved to upper left prog key, and put left option where esc was
  • tab and backtick keys swapped
  • swapped shift and ctrl thumb keys because I was having too much trouble finding shift
  • added macro to turn off led effect and assigned to fn-led
  • added macro to toggle language IME between English and Japanese
  • added a bunch of typically used cmd-?? keys to left function, to make it easier to reach them (for me)

Hope it helps someone.

EDIT: when I have an update I’ll post again below.


One thing I found extremely useful on the Mac was to have ctrl, opt, cmd, and shift as my left thumb arc; the layout is more predictable/familiar for me which helps make hotkeys (and cursor movement) much easier.

@numist That sounds like a good idea! Did you happen to share your sketch anywhere?

I did the same thing as numist and made them all one-shots. Plus I added single key macros on my function layer to one-shot every chord that I can’t press with my single thumb on my thumb cluster. They are all on my left hand pretty much where you have all of your cmd+ keys, and it makes all kinds of hotkey goodness pretty easy to work with.

My right hand thumb cluster is cmd/enter/space/backspace and has worked really nicely for me.

You can check out my sketch here:
And here’s a picture for you.


Thanks @TreTuna! I’ll try the “one shot” plugin once I have a moment to read about it.

Swapped things around in a pretty major way, since I was constantly reaching my pinkies out for shift, and, going for num for backspace.

source of graphic

Give it a bit and see how it goes.

I haven’t posted my layout anywhere; other than the left thumb arc the right is bkspc, shift, space, ctrl and the rest is totally stock.

Jesse and I have very similar use cases (and he’s spent years longer than I have thinking about the layout) so I figured stock was good enough for me.


For Mac use, I personally find it beneficial to have the Cmd and Option on opposite thumb arcs, mirrored (R2C7 and R2C8, in my case). I do this because there are a number of keyboard shortcuts that want both keys, and some even want more. By spreading them out this way, you avoid having to awkwardly mash several keys at once with your thumb.

Furthermore, I like to have Option on the opposite arc as Backspace so you can more easily delete one word at a time.

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So, you’re ctrl, opt, cmd, shift and bkspc, shift, space, ctrl got it, thanks!

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Ah, that’s a really good point, thanks! I’ll think about that. What I probably need to do is run a keylogger to see what I actually type all day.

I also suggest looking into Qukeys. I only utilize it for a single key, but it makes a big difference. (I have R2C8 as Key_Enter on tap and Key_RightAlt on hold).

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Ok, will look at qukeys for sure!

to chime in with a completely different option, I have thumbs set to: shift, backspace, command, option, option, command, space, shift. for some reason my brain couldn’t handle modifier keys that weren’t symmetrical :grimacing: control/escape is a qukey where the stock page up is, which matches my usage of capslock on laptop keyboards via karabiner.


makes sense. I am getting used to the idea of having asymmetrical modifiers, and trying to use alternate hands. It is working out ok so far, and it is good to be able to mash a thumb over a couple of modifiers at once.

@rickcogley Would you mind giving the class4j layout in a try? Let me know if you have any suggestions…

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Sure. I’m so new to this, I am not sure what I need to do, to do that, compared to default. Can you give me some guidance?

Just follow the usual instructions for the Model01-Firmware, except:

  • recursive clone my repo above rather than the keyboardio official one
  • edit keymaps.h to use modifiers-japan.h instead of modifiers-thumb-enter.h, and orphans-class4j.h instead of orphans-class1.h. Be sure to only uncomment one of each.
  • run make flash as usual

This should result in a firmware layout that allows you to use your Japanese OS keymap.

Personally, I just put LAlt/option on fn+ctrl on the left side. That way I can option-click without moving my left hand, while my right is on the mouse.

New user here. Forgive my ignorance, but how do I assign Mac keys such as “command” or “brightness up / down” to the keyboardio?

I used Chrysalis. Very easy. You can remap the keys rapidly and simply with no programming. For brightness and other specialty keys, you can set the keys in the Mac preferences panel Keyboard using the shortcuts tab, and then using Chrysalis define and apply the key combinations, e.g. I have F1 as brightness down (in MacOS), and the palm function key turns the numerical keys into function keys. So it is a combination of setting up your shortcuts from the Keyboard preference panes and aligning those combinations with your keyboard using Chrysalis.