Kinesis Keyboard Key Remap/Macro/Layout How-To

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The Kinesis Advantage2 SmartSet feature lets you create any layout in real-time just by pressing keys, and also lets you edit and share layouts, and they are plain text files.

This page covers how-to for Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard.

  1. How to switch layout.
  2. How to remap keys.
  3. How to record key macro, erase key macro.
  4. Show current keyboard status.
  5. How to reset keyboard.
  6. How to create a layout.
  7. How to switch to user layout.
  8. Open the embeded flash drive.
  9. Edit layout config file.

and more.

First, here's a key diagram for reference.

Kinesis advantage 2 keyboard layout 53127
Kinesis Advantage2 US default layout.

How to Switch Layout

To switch to QWERTY layout, press 【progm+F3

To switch to Dvorak layout, press 【progm+F4

All models of Kinesis Advantage2 have both Qwerty and Dvorak layout builtin.

Switch to Mac Thumb Key Mode

kinesis keyboard switch mac mode pc mode

Enable/Disable Key Sounds

There's a embedded speaker. When you press a key, it makes a pleasant “tick” sound for feedback. By default, it's on.

progm+F8 → Toggle key sounds. (When turning on, the scroll-lock light will flash 4 times. When turning off, it'll flash 2 times.)

Capslock On/Off Beep

When Caps Lock is turn on, there's 2 beeps sound. When it's off, 1 beep. Similarly for Keypad, Num Lock, Scroll Lock.

You can turn off this beep feature. By default, it's on.

Press progm+Shift+F8 → Toggle special key on/off beep. (When turning on, the scroll-lock light will flash 4 times. When turning off, it'll flash 2 times.)

How to Remap Keys

Suppose you want to make Caps Lock do Ctrl.

  1. Hold progm then press F12. Release both.
  2. Press Ctrl, release, press Caps Lock, release.
  3. Press progm again to stop.

Done. Now, pressing Caps Lock will send Ctrl signal.

Do this to remap any key.

When you remap a key, key are based on their default meanings. So, you won't get into a confusing situation of recursive remaps. To make a key back to default, you can simply start remap and press that key twice.

How to Record Key Macro

Suppose you want to make F2 do Ctrl+c (copy).

  1. Hold progm then press F11. Release both. (numlock LED will flash fast continuously.)
  2. Press F2, release. (numlock LED will now flash slowly.)
  3. Press Ctrl+c.
  4. Press progm again to stop.

Done. Now, pressing F2 will do Copy.

The triggering key can be a key chord. For example, you can make Ctrl+k do , so that when holding control, right hand keys can become arrow keys.

How to Erase One Key Macro

  1. Hold progm then press F11. Release both. (numlock LED will flash fast continuously.)
  2. Press the key or key combination that you want to erase. (numlock LED will now flash slowly.)
  3. Press progm again to stop.

How to Set Global Key Macro Playback Speed

Show Current Keyboard Status

• 【progm+status】 = paste text of current keyboard status. You must be in a text editor. For example, Microsoft Notepad, Mac TextEdit, or any emacs, vim, etc.

sample output

name> Advantage2 Keyboard
Firmware version> (2MB), 06/29/2016
Current keyboard config file> a_dvorak.txt
Current thumb keys mode> win
Macro playback status> active
Macro playback speed> slow=1, normal=3, fast=9> 3
Keyclick status> clicks on
Toggle action tone status> tones on
Number of stored macros> 0
Number of keys remapped> 15
Power user mode> on
Pressing progm+status to paste text of current keyboard status. You must be in a text editor.

Disable/Enable Macro Playback

You can disable macro.

• 【progm+F10】 = toggle disable macro. (capslock LED will flash 4 times if disabling, 2 times if enabling.)

Reset Keyboard

• 【progm+Ctrl+F9】 = hard Reset. It restore all defaults, and put current layout to QWERTY. Keep holding until LED stops flashing. Keyboard needs to be plugged in.

• 【progm+Shift+F9】 = Soft Reset. Remove user's keymapping and macro definition of current active layout.

Power User Mode

• 【progm+Shift+Escape】 = toggle Power User Mode. All 4 LEDs flash 4 times on activation, 2 times on deactivation.

Note: if you have remapped Shift or Escape keys, you should press the remapped key.

You need to be in Power User Mode to create a layout or mount the flash memory storage. We will remind you at the right places.

Create a Layout

steps to create a layout:

  1. Enter Power User Mode by pressing 【progm+Shift+Escape】. (note: if you have remapped the Escape key or Shift key , you should press those keys.)
  2. Press 【progm+F2】, and LED’s will flash.
  3. Press a letter key (for example, press x). LED will now stop flashing. This means, you have created a layout labeled “x”
  4. Done.

The newly created layout is a copy of the layout that was active at the time you created it. It includes all key remap and macro at the time. If you want to start fresh, do a Soft Reset first.

Press 【progm+status】 and you'll see the line “Current keyboard config file> x_dvorak.txt”.

Now, you can continue to create key remap or macro. They will be saved as part of the current layout.

Switch to a User Layout

• 【progm+a】 to switch and reload the variant “a” of the current active layout (“a_qwerty.txt” or “a_dvorak.txt”.). Similarly for 【progm+b】 【progm+c】 etc. But you need to create it first.

When you switch to a layout, it will reload the corresponding config file stored in memory.

Open Flash Drive

kinesis keyboard flash drive 47863
embedded Kinesis “v-drive” showing in a folder. (V stands for “virtual”. This is the word used in Kinesis manual.) (works in Linux, Mac, or Microsoft Windows)

① Enter Power User Mode by pressing 【progm+Shift+Escape】. (note: if you have remapped the Escape key or Shift key , you should press those keys.)

② press 【progm+F1】 to Open or close the V-drive. (capslock LED will flash 4 times if opening, 2 times if closing.).

Now, goto your OS's file viewer, and you can see the drive icon. (You might need to wait a few seconds before it shows up. On my linux box, I wait 4 seconds for my OS to automatically popup a window showing the mounted drive.) The drive is named “KINESIS KB”. On linux, the path is at /media/user_name/KINESIS KB/

by default, there are these directories:

In the directory named “active”, you can open a layout file and edit it or email to friend.

The files “dvorak.txt” and “qwerty.txt” are the default. If you haven't created any key remap or macro, they are empty files.

If you have created layouts, you will see file named like these:


They are the layouts you created.

Edit Layout Config File

You can edit a layout config file directly and have keyboard reload it.

Just open the file in a text editor.

To reload the layout, just close and reopen the v-drive again, by pressing progn+F1.

For example, here's my “d_dvorak.txt” file:


Here's the diagram of it:

Kinesis keyboard layout d13484

Key syntax

For the key syntax, best is to record a macro or remap keys. Then, when you open the layout file, you can see the key syntax used.

Letter keys are capitalized.

Number keys is itself.

Most punctuation keys is itself.


Modifier keys:

More special keys:

Arrow keys:

Extra function keys not on keyboard:

Keypad keys:

Multimedia keys:

Kinesis special keys:

Kinesis Advantage2 Quick Start Guide


Kinesis Advantage2 Manual


see also Kinesis and ErgoDox Optimal Thumb Cluster Layouts

Kinesis advantage 2 keyboard dvorak 34344
Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard

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