Using a Second Keyboard as Programable Keypad

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Most programable keypads are expensive, over $80. But, a cheap solution is just to buy a second keyboard and make all its keys as macro keys. You can make a second keyboard to act independently, so can be used as a dedicated macro keyboard.

This gets you 80 or 120 extra keys, at a price of $15 or so.

Here is how-to for Microsoft Windows.

DIY 87-Key Macro Keyboard - Because he has too many keyboard shortcuts!
Apr 7, 2016
Linus Tech Tips

This can also be done in Linux. But i haven't figured it out yet. It'll take a day or two to figure out.

The problem with this approach is:

See also:


Answer to a reddit question reddit

There is a video on youtube, where a guy did exactly that. He has a second and 3rd keyboard that every key is made to do photoshop command or video editing command.

In theory, one should be able to create OS software so that 2nd keyboard keys are remapped. In practice, this is relatively simple on the Mac using karabiner. But quite hard to do on Microsoft Windows or Linux. (that is, there is no tools. You have to program or hack yourself. On linux, you have to learn xkb.)

If you don't mind spending $80+, then your best bet is to buy a programable keyboard/keypad.

Note, if you want to do unusual things like mapping letter key to do shortcuts, then, almost ALL gaming keyboard by logitech cosair etc are out. Their gaming software + keyboard firmware typically do not let you do weird things like that.

instead, you want a dedicated programable keypad, or, keyboard such as Ergodox, Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, Kinesis Advantage2 , etc. I have a list here Programable Keyboards with Onboard Memory

having a second full-sized keyboard on your desk is unwieldy. So a programable keypad is probably best. you could have 2 of them, each 24 keys, on both sides of your main keyboard. They also come in thin strip form, and big square ones with 50+ keys.

Programable Keypad

Programable keyboard/keypad have significantly different capabalities and their software interface matters a lot. Here's a intro Keyboard Firmware

if you don't use number keys on the number pad, then that's the best free option to get you 20 function keys, and you can program them in emacs directly. [see Emacs: Bind Number Pad Keys] But on Mac, you still need to use karabiner first, because Mac makes them indistinguable as the normal number keys. if you don't have a full sized keyboard, you can buy a number pad cheap. Good mechanical ones costs about $20.

2018-08-10 yur3i gives linux tip:

I found a good way to use my spare membrane keyboard so i didn't have to buy a new thing, i used xinput and setxkbmap to set the second keyboard to russian and set keybindings to russian characters in emacs.

See:

Xah Keyboard Guide