I’m using a MacBook Pro and I broke it a while back. So, the keyboard doesn’t work on the laptop. I hooked up a keyboard to the USB port so I can still use it. I’m using a Dell keyboard.

Last night I wanted to listen to music without the brightness of the screen. So without thinking I turned the brightness off. Now I can't get the screen back so I was wondering if there's a way I can use the Dell keyboard to get the screen brightness back?

  • What did you do to turn off the brightness? (or are you implying that the F1 key works on the device but not F2?) – bmike Sep 8 '13 at 17:46

key: "scroll lock" to decrease brightness
key: "pause" to increase brightness

  • 2
    Oh wow I didn't expect this to work – but Macbook Air 2012 + Yosemite + KBT Pure Pro (TKL) works like a charm! – tekknolagi Jan 26 '15 at 19:15
  • I've been looking for this for ages, thank you!!!! – alexey Nov 17 '15 at 17:49

You can also use Apple Script - if you can ssh into your mac, you can then, in the ssh session, type the following:

osascript -e 'tell application "System Events"
key code 113
end tell'

Please note, that you actually need to press Enter at the end of each line. Also, be careful with the quote characters - there's a single quote after the -e option, and then a closing single quote at the end of line 3 above (following the end tell). Each execution of the script will increase the brightness by one notch. If you want it dimmer, change 113 to 107.

If this is something you see yourself use more often, then it might be worth it to either define an alias or write a small shell script, eg:

MacBook:~😈 alias brightup="osascript -e 'tell application \"System Events\"
> key code 113
> end tell'"


MacBook:~😈 alias brightdn="osascript -e 'tell application \"System Events\"
> key code 107
> end tell'"

Again, be careful with the quotes. When you put the above aliases into your .bashrc, all you'll need to type is brightup or brightdn.

Additional info

If you can't ssh into your box, you can blindly type the first osascript command. I would do it in the following way:

  1. press CommandSpace
  2. type terminal and press Enter
  3. blindly and slowly (and carefully) type the first osascript... command from the example above, exactly as it is there. This should bump the brightness up a bit, enough so that you should see what you're doing. If not, try a couple of times to press Up ArrowEnter
  • BRIGHTNESS_DOWN 0x91 (decimal 145) BRIGHTNESS_UP 0x90 (decimal 144) – ocodo Dec 3 '14 at 9:06

You could try resetting the NVRAM (a.k.a. PRAM). Shut down your Mac, then when you turn it back on, holding down commandoptionPR (windowsaltPR on a PC keyboard) until the computer restarts again.

The NVRAM typically stores hardware settings like brightness, volume, etc.


The "Scroll Lock" and "Page Break" are acting "F14" and "F15", respectively, for non-Apple keyboards. Make sure you turn-off / disconnected the bluetooth / hardware connection to the Apple Keyboard, then the Mac will recognize the non-Apple USB keyboard's "Scroll Lock" and "Page Break" as brightness shortcuts.

  • Any idea how to get that to work without disabling bluetooth? – Hassan Jan 30 '15 at 1:24

Use this free application from the apple store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brightness-menu-bar/id451140932?mt=12

  • Welcome to Ask Different. Link only answers are insufficient as links can be changed or removed. What is the App? How does it solve the problem? Please update your answer. Cheers – bjbk Nov 7 '15 at 5:07

If you previously use GUI to control brightness, then pressing F2 or Fn+F2 should turn on the brightness back.

  • 1
    My experience is that this doesn't work in general; only with an Apple keyboard. When I plugged in a generic USB keyboard, F2 did not adjust brightness and there was no FN key to press in combination with F2. – Daniel Sep 8 '13 at 19:47

I have a similiar issue with my macbook pro upon booting. at the login screen (password entry) it is often set to the previous brightness when I shut it down (from what I gather).

I tried the fn 1 and fn2 but nothing worked. I believe these commands were farmed out to the fancy new bar atop the keyboard (I forget what its called). regardless, the option to change the brightness isnt available until the machine has booted up a user.

perhaps an update an fix the issue or someone knows a workaround until then.


there is a very simple solution : just reboot

  • A simple reboot won't do it. However, holding down Command + Option + R + P upon boot increases the screen brightness to the maximum. This boot is also used to reset NVRAM and brightness is one of them. – Jack of all Spades Nov 7 '15 at 4:18

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