I'm on a Macbook Pro with a French Keyboard. Keyboard layout works fine when connecting to Windows XP Professional but I cannot get certain keys to work:

For example $, &, é, § and @ etc. work fine.

  • Forward slash / using + : works.

  • Backslash \ using + + : does not work.

  • Pipe | using + + L does not work.

Is there any configuration that I can do to make my keyboard work?

I've had this issue on my Windows VM in Virtual Box but fixed it with a custom keyboard layout. However when connecting to servers and workstations over the network this is not a solution since I can not configure each machine I need to connect to.

Under preferences, if I disable the Alt key it still does not work and on-top of that working without an Alt Key in Windows is no fun.

  • Is the Windows system you're connecting to set to use a French keyboard? – Joel Spolsky Jul 20 '11 at 23:19
  • Yes, windows places it to (FR) on login – Derick Schoonbee Jul 20 '11 at 23:28
  • If I switch to EN I have to press shift-dollar to get a backslash. Would prefer a French layout :) – Derick Schoonbee Jul 20 '11 at 23:30
  • Another test I tried that does also not work: Connecting from my XP VM via Remote Desktop. Strange that it does not work since in the VM my keys are mapped to work. – Derick Schoonbee Jul 20 '11 at 23:35
  • I could get a backslash using Ctrl+Alt+8... The Windows on-screen keyboard is helpful for figuring out what's going on – Joel Spolsky Jul 21 '11 at 0:09

In the case of backslash \, the problem is a difference between where Macintosh French keyboards put the backslash (which is ++:), and where Windows French keyboards put the backslash (which is ctrl++8).

Since the way Remote Desktop works is that scancodes, not characters, are sent to the remote system, you have to honor the Windows keyboard and press ctrl++8 to get a backslash.

Pipe | is ctrl++6

I was able to debug this using the on-screen keyboards, which both Macintosh and Windows support.

  • Still does not work for me. Seems the right-alt scancode is ignored when sent from my Mac. The only way I could get it to work is to use the kebyboard layout editor to map pipe to Ctrl+Alt+Shift+L. It seems Mac Alt is always translated as plain Alt and Alt Gr is gone. – Derick Schoonbee Jul 21 '11 at 9:14
  • I've reset my keyboard layout and it works now as the you suggested. But that's the "traditional" french layout. – Derick Schoonbee Jul 21 '11 at 10:46

In windows symbols can be inserted by pressing Shift + relevant number key to insert symbol.

When using a macbook on Microsoft Remote Desktop connection, you are required to Hold down Cmd + Shift + Number Key.

This is the hidden option for inserting symbols into Windows machines over Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection.


I press left ctrl + right + right key on my mac to imitate AltGr when using remote desktop to a windows computer

I can type special characters and shortcuts that need the AltGr key on the remote PC.

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