If you haven’t tried a mechanical keyboard on your Mac, you’re missing out. While primarily still the realm of gamers and Windows users, mechanical keyboards made for macOS are starting to become more popular — and you should take advantage of them. That’s especially true if you’ve been fed up with the durability and tactile feedback of Apple’s recent keyboards. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about mechanical keyboards and what they can offer.
What Is a Mechanical Keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards are a bit different than the scissor-switch, rubber dome or butterfly mechanisms you may be used to. Instead of an electrical switch that’s triggered by a key press, a mechanical keyboard is a much more analog solution.
Essentially, a mechanical keyboard uses an actual mechanical switch mechanism — which includes a key, actuator and spring — that is depressed when you hit a key.
This mechanical key switch can carry a number of benefits over the more traditional keyboard styles, which we’ll cover below.
If you’ve ever typed on a typewriter, you know just how satisfying and tactile the experience can be. While mechanical keyboards aren’t an exact duplicate for a typewriter, they can offer a much closer experience than scissor-switch or butterfly keyboards.
This results in a much more satisfying and solid typing experience, but it can also do wonders for your typing speed and accuracy. They take a little while to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, you may just have a hard time going back to any other type of keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards, by their very nature, have a much longer lifespan than rubber dome keyboards — and especially over butterfly keyboards. That’s because, again, it’s an analog keyswitch that’s much less prone to breakage over time.
For one, they don’t “wear out.” A mechanical keyboard will feel the same in a few years as the first day that you bought it. Most mechanical keyboards can also last about 30 to 70 million keypresses, as opposed to the 5 million key presses of a standard membrane keyboard.
There’s a mechanical keyboard for just about anyone out there. While relatively rare once scissor-switch and membrane keyboards became popular, mechanical keyboards have made a comeback over the past couple of years. The result is a slew of options for both macOS and other platforms.
That means you can find a mechanical keyboard in pretty much every color, keyboard size, keyboard layout and feature-set that you can imagine. There’s also switch color, which plays a huge role in your typing experience. Blue switches are clicky and tactile, while reds and browns are described are “tactical” and “linear,” respectively.
Most mechanical keyboard models offer a level of customization and repairability that you won’t find on a butterfly switch. Don’t like the color or font of your keycaps? You can buy additional keycaps — and even find artisanal caps handmade by craftspeople.
There’s also a thriving community of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts who create and build their own boards. If you’re the hands-on or tinkering-type, you’ll find a slew of like-minded people who are passionate about all the ins and outs of mechanical keyboards.
It’s also hard to overstate just how fun mechanical keyboards are. They’re a joy to type on and feel more like a typewriter than any laptop-based keyboard you’ve probably typed on. While that’s great for accuracy and typing feedback, it’s also just plain fun.
Many mechanical keyboards also come with RGB lighting, meaning you can customize different backlighting colors and styles to your liking. More than that, the aforementioned customization means that you can tweak your keyboard exactly the way you want it.
Mechanical keyboards are highly recommended for their durability and other features, but they do come with a few disadvantages. As an example, most mechanical keyboards are quite a bit taller and may take getting used to — especially if you’re accustomed to the low profile of a butterfly switch.
Also, there’s the noise level. There’s no getting around it: mechanical keyboards are quite a bit louder than pretty much any other keyboard you get. This can also depend on what color switch you opt for. Blue switches are notoriously loud and click, while red and brown switches are somewhat quieter.
Mechanical Keyboard Recommendations for Mac
You can use pretty much any mechanical keyboard with macOS, but we’d suggest going with one that’s made with a Mac-specific layout. (It’ll be easier than remembering that the Windows key is supposed to be Command.)
- For Mac, some good options include pretty much any Keychron product — including the Keychron K2.
- Ducky keyboards also are highly recommended, so you may want to look into the Ducky One 2 Mini.
- This Azio keyboard is a good choice if you’re looking for a wired solution.
But why stop with your Mac? You can also get a mechanical keyboard for your iPhone and iPad. This Bastron MK75 is a good place to start when it comes to iOS/Android mechanical keyboards.