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What Is a Magic Keyboard? | MakeUseOf

Unlike laptop users, those of us who still use desktop computers need a separate keyboard. Although you can use almost any keyboard with most PCs, your best choice is the Apple Magic Keyboard if you’ve bought an Apple computer.

The keyboard is either bundled with or offered as an option for most Macs and is generally considered the most seamless experience for macOS. In 2020, the company released the Magic Keyboard for iPad, an edition of the keyboard with an integrated touchpad.

Let’s take a closer look at Apple’s Magic Keyboard and how it works.

What Is the Magic Keyboard?

The Apple Magic Keyboard is the default keyboard for Apple devices. It was first launched in 2015 as the successor to the Apple Wireless Keyboard. In the years since, there have been revisions to the design, as well as extended editions. The company’s experience-focused approach to design means that the keyboard integrates seamlessly with your Apple devices, including MacBooks, iMacs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.

Many third-party options fall short on features or shortcut keys. Most keyboards are also designed for Windows computers with a different key layout and platform-specific functionality. The Apple Magic Keyboard, on the other hand, is designed specifically for use with macOS or iPadOS devices.

The standard Magic Keyboard uses the QWERTY layout but comes without a numeric keypad. Fortunately for those who prefer the number pad integrated with the keyboard, Apple has also released the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad.

The Magic Keyboard uses a scissor mechanism for key presses. This is in contrast to the often-criticized butterfly mechanism found in many of the company’s laptops. The butterfly mechanism was designed to reduce the key’s travel distance and enable a thinner laptop.

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However, the Magic Keyboard uses a redesigned scissor mechanism to increase key stability by a third and reduce key travel compared to its predecessor, the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

The keyboards connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, and there’s also a Lightning port for topping up the battery. However, you shouldn’t have to use this that often, as the battery can last for up to a month before it needs recharging.

Although the keyboard comes included with a new Mac, if you’re thinking of buying one, first consider whether the Apple Magic Keyboard is really worth the money.

Apple Magic Keyboard Models

The original Magic Keyboard is available in silver and comes with white keys. This is the default edition that you’ll see bundled with some Apple computers. The Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad is also available in silver with white keys, but you can also purchase the keyboard in space gray with black keys. The Mac Pro (3rd generation) ships with a silver edition of the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad with black keys.

While the Magic Keyboard works with most Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices, the company also offers the Magic Keyboard for iPad. The device is compatible with the iPad Air (4th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation), and iPad Pro 11-inch (1st and 2nd generation). The keyboard attaches to the tablet via the Smart Connector and draws power from the iPad instead of an internal battery.

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This edition of the keyboard is equipped with a USB-C port for pass-through charging. The most crucial difference between this keyboard and the desktop equivalent is the inclusion of a multi-touch trackpad. At present, only a limited number of iPads support touchpads or trackpads, so be sure to check to see if your model is supported before purchasing the Magic Keyboard for iPad.

The layout, backlight, and scissor mechanism remain the same between all editions of the Magic Keyboard. Confusingly, Apple also refers to the internal keyboard in all MacBooks released after December 2019 as the Magic Keyboard.

How to Connect the Magic Keyboard to a Mac

If you have purchased a new iMac or Mac Pro, it’ll arrive with a pre-paired Magic Keyboard included in the box. However, if you want to pair a new keyboard or connect the Magic Keyboard to a different Apple desktop, it only takes a few steps:

  1. Connect your Magic Keyboard to your Mac with the included Lightning-to-USB cable.
  2. Use the switch at the top-right of the keyboard to turn on the Magic Keyboard.
  3. The keyboard will automatically pair with your macOS device.
  4. Once connected, you can remove the cable and use the Magic Keyboard wirelessly.

Although the setup is fast and reasonably straightforward, there’s always the possibility you’ll run into connection issues later down the line. In that case, you might want to check out our Apple keyboard troubleshooting tips.

How to Connect the Magic Keyboard to an iPad

It’s possible to automatically pair the Magic Keyboard with an Apple computer using the included cable. However, as a Bluetooth device, you can pair the Magic Keyboard with your Bluetooth-enabled Apple device by switching on the keyboard and opening Bluetooth settings on your device. From there, you can pair the keyboard as you would any other Bluetooth device.

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However, if you have purchased Magic Keyboard for iPad, there are a few alternate steps to follow to connect the keyboard to your iPad Pro 12.9-inch, iPad Pro 11-inch, or iPad Air:

  1. Place the Magic Keyboard for iPad on a flat surface and open the lid.
  2. Adjust the lid to your preferred viewing angle. This will be the angle at which you connect the iPad to use as a display.
  3. Place your iPad onto the Magic Keyboard for iPad. The lid has cutouts for the rear camera lenses at the top left to help you position the iPad correctly.

The Best Keyboard for Apple Users

An experience-focused approach has helped Apple become one of the world’s most successful technology companies. Its products are designed to integrate well with one another, and the Magic Keyboard is an excellent example of this. The keyboard works with most Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices, and there’s even a variant for the iPad with an integrated touchpad.

Despite this, you may find that the Magic Keyboard isn’t right for your setup. For instance, the standard edition doesn’t come with a numerical keypad. However, there are plenty of alternatives to the Apple Magic Keyboard that may be better value for money.

Image Credit: Ruslan Ivantsov/Shutterstock


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