When setting up a new Apple Mac, connecting a new input device, or after upgrading the macOS operating system, it may happen that swapped the < and ^ keys on the external keyboard are. Some users just get used to it; you just use the key to the right of the left shift key for ^ and °. For < and > use the key above the tab key. When I had this problem, I didn't want to put up with it. I was looking for a solution and found it. If the keys on your Mac are also swapped on the external keyboard, simply follow the instructions below.
Troubleshooting: Keys swapped on external Mac keyboard
I use one on the Apple MacBook Pro Cherry KC-1000, a very cheap model, on which I have been able to reliably write my texts for years. macOS also recognizes that it is a Cherry model, but the ISO keyboard standard is not always correctly identified. Therefore, when setting up my new MacBook Pro, the keys for <> and ^° were swapped. So I quickly googled the solution and found a workable solution alongside "just put up with it" and an outdated terminal command from 2009 - deleting the file com.apple.keyboardtype.plist:
Removes external keyboard from Mac (unplug USB or disconnect Bluetooth)
Opens the /Library/Preferences/ folder on the system volume (default: Macintosh HD)
Locate the com.apple.keyboardtype.plist file and delete it
Restarts the Mac
Log in and reconnect the external keyboard
Switched keys on Mac? The keyboard assistant helps!
After you have gone through the above steps, the macOS Keyboard Assistant window should pop up by itself, in which you can make the necessary settings for the external keyboard on the Mac. Press "Continue" in its start screen, then you will be shown the method to identify the keyboard: press the key next to the left shift key once. If this was recognized, it automatically goes to the next screen, where you select the first point for a German QWERTZ keyboard - ISO for Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and other regions. Then click on “Done” and the buttons can be used again as labeled.
After graduating from high school, Johannes completed an apprenticeship as a business assistant specializing in foreign languages. But then he decided to research and write, which resulted in his independence. For several years he has been working for Sir Apfelot, among others. His articles include product introductions, news, manuals, video games, consoles, and more. He follows Apple keynotes live via stream.
6 comments on "Mac problem: < and ^ keys swapped on external keyboard"
I had this problem when I connected a Satechi Slim Bluetooth Keyboard to my Mac. My mistake was to choose ISO instead of ANSI in the dialog shown in the last screenshot of the article. The error disappeared after I set ANSI there.
Thanks for the tip. Worked fine for me :)
Thanks for the tip. I was also able to call up the keyboard dialog directly in the settings. I also tried deleting the file. Result: On my external keyboard (Keychron) the keys are now correct, but on the internal one of the Macbook they are reversed. This is driving me straight to despair.
Just as you did, you change the keyboard layout your Mac uses. It is logical that the internal keyboard then uses "wrong" keys.
The method presented in the article only changes the key assignment of the external keyboard.
Also works under Ventura and with a Logitech K850. Thanks!
I'm pleased! Thank you for the feedback. 😊