I could not find a thread which exactly answered my questions, even though it seems like a common concern. So, sorry if this question is not appropriate, but I really did some reasearch and only could find half of my answers or questions which were the other way round (cannot control this via the keywords I'm searching).

So, I can choose between the newest MacBook Pro and a Dell Windows Laptop by work. Intended purpose is to do some emergency coding at home, which will be the case no more than 2 hours per month; normally there are many months where I don't have to do anything at all. Which means that I will rarely spend any time with the Mac. I am coming from Windows and Linux OS and my concern is, that due to the rare occasions, I will not adapt to the strange keyboard settings (special characters like !"$&/()[] etc). So my question is, are there tools to completely emulate a Windows keyboard layout, so every character is at the same place? And if so, what are your experiences with it / would you recommend it?

Also, I wonder if it is possible to plug a regular Windows USB keyboard in the Macbook and have the character input Windows-like, or do I have to setup stuff for that? How can I use MacOS keyboard shortcuts with such a keyboard?

I already found stuff like Karabiner and this, but I cannot see what exactly those are doing and what it's limits are, also if it is really recommended or merely tedious.

Side note, I am used to German layout on all my machines and would like to keep it that way.

Also to understand why I would even choose a Mac with these concerns: My earlier experiences with terminal emulators on windows are very bad to say at least. They are clunky, ugly, often buggy and most times don't catch special keys like for VIM or TMUX. So I would like to try the native linux-y terminals of Mac. As long as I don't know about the keyboard layout, I am not sure which of the two OS is the lesser evil for me.

  • 1
    naturlich is ein Mac besser
    – Ruskes
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 23:09
  • pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/document.html shows the functionality of Karabiner Elements in a detailed way. I would stick to Windows if both systems are equally managed in your company.
    – RiZKiT
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 12:19

3 Answers 3


Some language Input Sources have "PC" variants, which follow the PC keyboard layout in that language.

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Although there isn't a "German - PC" input source, there is a "German - Standard" input source, which seems to be the same as German PC keyboards, from what I can gather. You may still need to swap round CTRL and Command, if you want to do that.


Yes, this is possible with Karabiner-Elements. There are already pre-configured modifications for German keyboards by the community: https://ke-complex-modifications.pqrs.org/?q=german


Here you can find an easy solution for adding a new keyboard input source in your mac setting for German-PC layout: https://administrator.de/tutorial/deutsche-pc-tastatur-am-apple-mac-einrichten-221078.html

  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Different! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – agarza
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 2:19

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