The MacBook Air keyboard layout

Tech Life

As you may have heard or noticed, the new MacBook Air models do not have a separate Power key on the top case like all the other MacBook/MacBook Pros. Due to space constraints, the Power key is now part of the keyboard, and takes the upper right position, previously reserved to the Eject key. You can see a detail in this photo taken by Ars Technica (at page 5 of this article):

Power Key detail

After reading about this change, I mistakenly thought that the upper row of keys in the new MacBook Air had now one more key, and consisted of 15 keys instead of 14.

On closer examination of various photos, I stand corrected: they still have 14 keys — it’s their layout and functions that have shifted.

Here’s a photo of the old MacBook Air’s top row of keys:

Old MacBook Air top row of keys

(Click to enlarge)

Left to right we find:

  1. Esc key
  2. F1 / decrease brightness
  3. F2 / increase brightness
  4. F3 / Exposé
  5. F4 / Dashboard
  6. F5 / decrease keyboard brightness
  7. F6 / increase keyboard brightness
  8. F7 / previous audio track
  9. F8 / Play-Pause
  10. F9 / next audio track
  11. F10 / Mute
  12. F11 / decrease volume
  13. F12 / increase volume
  14. Eject

Now let’s take a look at the new MacBook Air (the 11.6″ model):

New MacBook Air top row of keys

(Click to enlarge)

The photo is darker and less clear (maybe this photo from Engadget is clearer), but here’s the key layout (changes are in bold italic):

  1. Esc key
  2. F1 / decrease brightness
  3. F2 / increase brightness
  4. F3 / Exposé
  5. F4 / Dashboard
  6. F5
  7. F6 / previous audio track
  8. F7 / Play-Pause
  9. F8 / next audio track
  10. F9 / Mute
  11. F10 / decrease volume
  12. F11 / increase volume
  13. F12 / Eject
  14. Power key

See what’s happened? Since the new MacBook Air models no longer have a backlit keyboard, the keyboard controls for keyboard brightness have gone, and more than half of the top row of keys has been redefined.

On a tangential note, I’m also wondering: since we’ll have Mission Control in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and (from what I’ve inferred by the October 20 keynote) the Exposé and Dashboard functions will be unified, I guess that soon the two separated function keys won’t be much useful.

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3 Comments

  1. just a quick note to say that the bold font doesn’t really stand up with this theme and that (maybe) UPPERCASE should work better ;-)

  2. Stefano says

    Non c’entra col commento al post ma apprezzo molto lo sfondo nuovo rispetto al grigiore di prima…

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