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Apple Wireless Mouse and Keyboard Tips and Tricks

by FJ de Kermadec

A few weeks before the Apple Expo, the Web was buzzing with speculation: new Apple Wireless Keyboards and Mice were coming. And they would be shipped standard with all iMacs! The mouse would have two buttons and an iPod-like touch sensitive scroll wheel. Now that they are here, it turns out that they are not shipped by default and the mouse only has one button, exactly like before.

Nevertheless, don't be fooled. The latest gizmos from Apple are very cool products and a purchase you certainly won't regret. In case you were wondering how they behave, here is a preview.

Before they arrive

Young parents are advised to plan everything before the baby arrives. The same would be advisable for wireless owners to be. Indeed, the Apple Wireless Mouse and Keyboard require that you use a Macintosh with built-in Bluetooth or the D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter, part number DBT-120, rev. B2 or later.

While some users have been able to use other, non-supported adapters, keep in mind that only with this one will you be able to apply the magic firmware update that allows your new peripherals to be very resistant to interferences and to control your computer in delicate situations (startup keys, waking from sleep, etc.).

Of course, we also trust that you are using Mac OS X v. 10.2.8 or later with all the already-available Bluetooth upgrades installed.

When they arrive

When your keyboard and mouse arrive, begin by plugging the D-Link adapter into one of your computer's USB ports, if applicable. Since Mac OS X already has all the drivers it needs, you just need to plug it in and forget about the instructions written on the box.

But before unwrapping the keyboard, insert the CD that comes with it, where you'll find a software update and a Bluetooth firmware updater.

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Before using the CD, search for updates in the Knowledge Base. If applicable, download the newer versions and use them instead of the CD.

Begin by applying the software update; it installs like any other Installer package and allows your computer to talk to the keyboard and mouse more efficiently.

Then open the Bluetooth firmware updater. It was designed to update both the internal Bluetooth modules on Bluetooth-equipped Macs and the external D-Link adapters. This firmware update is essential; it will allow the Bluetooth module to use Adaptive Frequency Hopping, the magic technology that allows your peripherals to maintain a connection with your Mac even when you power cycle your cell phone or AirPort network.

Like with any firmware update, be cautious. It's easy to do but must be done right. Quit all your applications, then launch the updater. Read carefully the instructions on the screen and then click on "Update".

The update only takes a few seconds. If the installer says that it can't run, this may mean that the Bluetooth module that you are trying to use is not supported. Don't panic if your Bluetooth module is unavailable after the upgrade; simply reboot and everything will be fine.

You only need to perform these steps once. The software that comes with the mouse and the one that comes with the keyboard are exactly the same.

Pairing the Keyboard

Now that your computer is ready to use the latest Bluetooth technologies, it's time to unpack your keyboard and insert the batteries.

Trying to insert the batteries in the compartment can drive you crazy if you don't understand that you need to rotate the two locks, using, for example, a coin. Otherwise, it pops out neatly and inserting the batteries is straightforward.

Switch the keyboard on by sliding the switch located underneath it toward the Apple logo. Make sure that it is fully pushed back. Otherwise the keyboard may look like it's turned on but won't be recognized by your Mac.

Open the "System Preferences" application, and click on the "Bluetooth" control pane. Then click on the "Devices" tab and on "Set up new device".

The assistant that appears is very easy to use. Once you have picked "Keyboard" as the device type, wait until the name "Apple Wireless Keyboard" appears in the list, not just the series of numbers that make up the device ID.

You will be asked to enter a code on the keyboard to secure the pairing. Feel free to use the numerical pad to do that. However, you really must type "return", not use the enter button located next to the number keys. By the way, there is no feedback on your screen while you type.

Setting up your keyboard

The "Keyboard and Mouse" control pane will allow you to give a name to your keyboard--something you may want to do if there are multiple keyboards in a room--and to see the level of the batteries.

Using your keyboard

Your Apple Wireless Keyboard behaves very much like a wired one. You will never need to pair your keyboard with your computer again. With the exact right hardware and software on supported computers, you should be able to wake it from sleep by using the keyboard or mouse. You can even wake some PowerBooks up with the lid closed.

Most key combinations work at startup like "T" to enter FireWire Target Disk Mode. However, although you can force your Mac to boot into Single User mode by using your keyboard, you can't actually type commands at the prompt. This is normal since the goal of this mode is to do troubleshooting and you don't want to load non-essential drivers at this point.

Pairing your mouse

When you insert the batteries, make sure that it is turned off. Underneat the cover toward the top of the mouse you will see a tiny slider to adjust the click strength. If you know your setting from the trusty Apple Pro Mouse, change it now.

The batteries provided by Apple are of a special kind. These are two non-rechargeable AA lithium batteries, designed to deliver power over a long period of time. Some sites have criticized Apple's decision because these batteries are more expensive or more difficult to find in certain countries. You can also use alkaline or rechargeable AA batteries if you like.

Turn the mouse on and open the Bluetooth Setup Assistant. As with the keyboard, wait until the full name appears in the list of devices before you pair. Since you can't enter a code with a mouse, the assistant will attempt to pair automatically with it. In my tests, I noticed that clicking the mouse once while it tries to pair seems to speed the process up.

Setting up your mouse

Setting up your mouse is also a very simple process. The same "Keyboard and Mouse" control pane allows you to name it and see its battery level.

iBook and PowerBook users should keep in mind that trackpad speed and mouse speed are two different settings and that the mouse defaults to a medium-slow speed. They just need to use the right slider in the "Keyboard and Mouse" control pane.

Some users like their mouse to go very fast, even faster than the maximum allowed by the interface. These users can rejoice because there is no need to download funky .ktext files to speed their mice up, although those funky .ktext files may give them extra options.

Just open your Terminal and type

defaults write -globalDomain -float 5

Then log out and in again. The minimum value allowed by the interface is 3. More than 8 would be too much.

Using your mouse

Again, it's the same deal as the keyboard, you will never need to re-pair your mouse with your Mac and, with the right hardware and software, it can wake your computer from sleep.

Troubleshooting your mouse and keyboard

The MacDevCenter isn't a troubleshooting site, but it's worth mentioning these two "issues" that you might run into.

Connection trouble? Some users notice that their mouse and keyboard unexpectedly drop the connection with the computer or that the mouse movement is inaccurate. Before calling Apple and asking for a replacement, have a look here and follow the steps carefully.

If your configuration meets the requirements, you shouldn't experience the slightest connection issue. In our tests, we used Sailing Clicker while pairing a phone with the Address Book, while syncing a PDA, while using our mouse and keyboard to surf the Internet on an AirPort network, and we had no problem at all.

Battery issues The batteries provided by Apple are top-quality and should last a good long time. However, if your batteries die in a week, chances are that they were faulty. Just install new ones and see what happens. Of course, change them all at once and follow the battery handling instructions written in your manual.

If you need help, you may want to check the AppleCare discussion forums. There is a special Bluetooth forum.


Is there some kind of low-power mode? Yes. But you won't have to flip your mouse and keyboard every evening to switch them off. When they are not in use, they automatically enter a low-power mode to save batteries.

I have heard the mouse is very heavy. The new wireless mouse is slightly heavier than the Apple Pro Mouse because it contains batteries and an antenna. However, rest assured that it is not "heavy" at all. In fact, most people we have spoken with find this new feel more comfortable over extended periods of use.

Is the keyboard full featured? Yes. The keyboard looks exactly like the Apple Keyboard that ships with wires, except that it doesn't have the two USB ports.

Why does this mouse only have one button? This is Apple's signature mouse and we like it. In fact, we switched from another wireless mouse that featured everything from scroll wheel to right click. Perfectly shaped, the new Apple Wireless Mouse is a joy to look at and a joy to use.

Is the connection secure? The Bluetooth connection established with your keyboard is indeed secured by 128-bit encryption.

Have a crazy suggestion? Some kind of geeky trick?

If you want to use your computer to chat or surf the web comfortably installed in your chair at 15 feet away, you can do just that. Just use the Universal Access control pane to magnify the screen and resize the Safari or iChat window to fit it. Just keep the mouse handy in case the screen "jumps" when a chat bubble appears.

The new Apple Wireless Mouse and Keyboard and two great peripherals that will really spice up your computing life. They are new products and Apple is still at hard work, writing Knowledge Base articles to make your life even easier with them, so check every few days to see what's new. Do a search for "Wireless Mouse" and "Wireless keyboard", with the quotes. It is also the place to look for firmware and software updates that may be released.

You probably won't use your wired mouse and keyboard again in a very long time.

FJ de Kermadec is an author, stylist and entrepreneur in Paris, France.

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