Don’t throw away that usb keyboard

There is something to be said for wireless keyboards and mice.

For starters they free up your desk space and there are no cables to up end your coffee cup or send the inevitable pile of paperclips crashing to the floor when you move the mouse at just the wrong angle.

There is something very Star Trek about communicating with a keyboard and mouse that are disembodied from the main screen.

Set phasers on neeeeeeeeeerrrrrd!

They have their issues as well though and some of these definitely never appear in a Star Trek episode. Chief among these is when they run out of battery or for some other mysterious reason they refuse to communicate with your computer.

What are you supposed to do when the only way you can communicate has been taken away from you? This is why I always recommend that you have a wired keyboard and mouse in a drawer somewhere for just such an emergency.

This wired keyboard and mouse could be the old ones that came with your Mac so many years ago. However if you have a more recent Mac that only came with a wireless keyboard and mouse then spending up to $20 at your local Officeworks store to buy a No-name brand USB keyboard and mouse is a sound investment. 

Yes you read that correctly – it is most assuredly a myth that you need an Apple branded keyboard and mouse to work with a Mac. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that one over the years!

HP, Dell, Microsoft and Logitech and others all make very good USB keyboard and mouse combos at varying degrees of expense and they all work with your Mac.

So now that I have encouraged you to squirrel away a wired keyboard and mouse,  let’s get into what to do when a wireless keyboard and mouse get into a huff.

Could it really be that simple?!

First thing to do is to check that it has new batteries. The older Bluetooth keyboard and mouse from Apple take AA batteries. See here for a great article by Apple.

The newer wireless keyboard and mouse have charging cables and have batteries like mobile phones. The great thing about these is that they do not add to the landfill or your inevitable impoverishment by having to buy so many AA batteries. Generally speaking you should get plenty of warning if the battery needs to be charged and all you need to do is plug the cable in. The new mouse does have a curious design and I have covered that here.

Okay so it’s not the batteries!

First thing to do would be to find that keyboard and mouse that you bought so long ago and plug them in.

Next do the following:

  1. Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences
  2. Click on Bluetooth.
  3. It will list all of the Bluetooth devices that are connected to your Mac.
  4. Click on the device that is no longer working and click on the small cross that appears on the right hand side. This will delete the item from your Mac.
  5. As we have already made sure that it is not the batteries turn off your keyboard or mouse using the switch and then turn it back on.
  6. All going well your keyboard should try to introduce itself to your Mac and will appear in the lower half of the window. Clicking on the Connect button it will bring up a code that you can then type in using using your Bluetooth keyboard. This is a way of making sure that they are communicating and that you are pairing the right keyboard.
  7. Thankfully a mouse is much easier – once removed (as per step 4 if you are playing along at home) just turn it off and then turn it back on again, click on the connect button when it appears and you are good to go.
  8. Once working unplug your USB keyboard and mouse and stick them back in the drawer for another five or six years!

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