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I recently purchased an external keyboard (non-apple) that is used at home and also dragged along with me from time to time, and I've noticed a need.

My Mac is in English, as well as its physical keyboard. However, my external keyboard is in Norwegian.

I am finding it quite cumbersome to have to swap the keyboard layout every time i swap keyboard, which can be quite often. I noticed that the keyboard layout can change according to the app being used, but this doesn't always work.

Is it possible to make the Mac change its keyboard layout either based on the current keyboard being used or every time I either plug on unplug the external keyboard?


Something I've already tried

I've created an AppleScript that sort of solves this, but ran into some problems with Mojave and its security, and therefore wondering if I should approach this differently. I'll attach the script for reference, we might have to just alter it if there isn't a better solution..

Would appreciate any thoughts at all.

Problem I'm running into is that the app is not allowed to send keystrokes via system events, even though I've permitted it in System Preferences.

--Checks connected usb devices for description, performs keypresses if condition is met
set devicePresent to false
set changeLayout to false


delay 2 --delay may not be needed. To make sure that usb device is registred before script is triggered

set currentLayout to do shell script "defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist AppleSelectedInputSources | egrep -w 'KeyboardLayout Name' | cut -d '=' -f2;exit "

set USB to paragraphs of (do shell script "system_profiler SPUSBDataType -detailLevel basic")
repeat with i from 1 to (count of USB)
    if item i of USB contains "Product ID: 0x0059" then set devicePresent to true
end repeat

if (devicePresent) then
    if currentLayout contains "ABC" then set changeLayout to true --changes layout to norwegian
end if
if (not devicePresent) then
    if currentLayout contains "Norwegian" then set changeLayout to true --changes layout to english
end if


if (changeLayout) then tell application "System Events"
    key code 49 using control down
    set newLayout to do shell script "defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist AppleSelectedInputSources | egrep -w 'KeyboardLayout Name' | cut -d '=' -f2;exit "
    display notification ("Changed layout from " & currentLayout & " to " & newLayout) with title "New Layout" sound name "Sound Name"
end tell
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  • Welcome to Ask Different! :) I hope you come to find this site has a lot to offer! In case you haven't already, it's worth taking the time to read the tour. All the best!
    – Monomeeth
    Jan 5, 2019 at 22:48
  • @Monomeeth Much appreciated! Apologies for the poor formatting..
    – hpl002
    Jan 5, 2019 at 22:50
  • I think the karabiner app lets you implement a custom layout that only applies to external keyboards. Jan 5, 2019 at 23:08
  • @TomGewecke That is true, i can create profiles in Karabiner Elements that only apply to a specified keyboard. But this again means that i would have to remap the entire external keyboard to match that of a Norwegian layout. This is a hard-coded approach, but would probably work.
    – hpl002
    Jan 6, 2019 at 11:52
  • I don't know how that app works. Is there perhaps a way for it to import an entire xml Norwegian .keylayout file? Jan 6, 2019 at 12:13

1 Answer 1

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There exists a utility to perform automatic switching, but it apparently needs some work for certain keyboard vendors: https://superuser.com/a/1150616. Direct link: https://github.com/ohueter/autokbisw

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  • Those links are not intended to answer the question @Thinkr (did you even visit them?). They support what the author is referencing. In this case, an existing discussion on our sister site Super User as well as a direct link to the app.
    – Allan
    Apr 20, 2023 at 14:00

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