Remapping the Keys on your Mac's Keyboard to Enhance the VoiceOver Experience


This guide may no longer be accurate or up-to-date for most users and use cases. We're keeping it online as a courtesy to its author, but we consider it archived.

This guide provides support ducumentation for the podcast in which I walk through the steps that enable Mac users to remap their keyboard so that they have the following capabilities:

  1. The ability to use the Caps Lock key as the VO modifier keys "Control + Option".
  2. Create a num pad on your regular keyboard.  which makes it possible to use num pad commander on a standard keyboard.

Notes and links:
I have long wanted the VO keys "Control Option" to be available as the Caps Lock key. This would allow one finger to hold down the keys. Also, the location of the Caps Lock key is ideal for reaching many keys that need to be pressed with the VoiceOver keys.

Using the caps lock key as the VO modifier would dramatically reduce the times I find my fingers contorted trying to press multiple keys all over the keyboard.  

For those of us who type with our fingers on the home row, this allows us to use the VO modifier while keeping our hands ready to continue typing.

I'm pleased to let you know that this is now possible. Thanks to Takayama Fumihiko, the developer of KeyRemap4Macbook. this application in conjunction with another application by the same developer allows a Mac user to remap the caps lock key as the "Control and Option" keys pressed together.

The other application is called PCKeyboardHack. These two apps and a file created for VO users makes this possible.

Although a write-up of this process would probably be more efficient for most of us, that is not my strength.

Below are links needed to obtain the applications and the specially constructed xml file.

Finally, I have provided links to some additional help documentation.

The application developer responded to my request for this capability within hours of my written request. I have also been asked to contact again if there are any other ways the application can help blind users.

This was such a nice response. I'm still amazed as I have written to Apple asking for this every few months or so, only getting back the standard answer,"thank you for your suggestion".

I'm so grateful to now have this ability.

Also, please be aware that this application can also remap other keys. For example, you could make the command key on the right of your space bar a Control key giving you another set of VoiceOver Keys.

KeyRemap4Macbook also creates a num pad on your regular keyboard. This makes it possible to use num pad commander on a standard keyboard.  

This is covered in a excellent post by Esther on the list.

One gentle reminder. This application is donation ware, so if you use this as much as I do please support this developer. And, as we come up with more ways that this application can help and as the OS changes, we will want this developer to support us.

This was the most challenging podcast I have created so far. If you see a need for revision please let me know.

Below are the links I give in the podcast and also the XML text you will need.

Link to  KeyRemap4MacBook and PCKeyboardHack applications:

Link to instructions on changing the Caps Lock key to PC application key. the needed key code number is 110:

Link to private.xml, that  changes PC Application Key to Control+Option:

Link to instructions on how to use private.xml:

The Following is the text of the Private xml:

<?xml version="1.0"?>


<name>Change PC Application Key to Control+Option.</name>
<autogen>--KeyToKey-- KeyCode::PC_APPLICATION, KeyCode::OPTION_L, ModifierFlag::CONTROL_L</autogen>



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Submitted by Ivor123 on Saturday, September 29, 2012

I have tried this a couple of times but typing "blind voice over" in the search field of the key remapping program doesn't populate the table with any options. I downloaded the latest version of the key remap software and am wondering if the VoiceOver support is no longer offered?

Submitted by Dave82 on Saturday, September 29, 2012

I had the same problem the first time I tried this, but it turned out I had downloaded the wrong version of the software. Go back and make sure the version numbers are those in the podcast when you download. Working perfectly now.

Submitted by Dave82 on Saturday, September 29, 2012

For anyone using Parallels rather than VMWare to run their virtual Windows machine, I have found that when using NVDA I have to hold down the FN key with CapsLock to get the CapsLock functionality, but at least it is working.

Submitted by Anna D on Monday, October 15, 2012

I just attempted to remap my keys, but the latest version of KeyRemap I could find at the given link was 7.8.0. I couldn't find version 7.8.17, so when I searched for "blind voice over" in System Preferences, the table was empty. Does anyone know where this version is?

The customized version 7.8.17 of KeyRemap4MacBook that you want is: It's listed in the notes for the new and updated version of this podcast at this AppleVis link. I suggest that you read through the newer linked post. If you need more information on uninstalling the version you have, it's done from the "Misc & Unistall" tab, and is described at the end of my Mac-access list post.

Submitted by Jani Bee on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This would have been apparently a life saver for many a person who shifted from Windows to mac earlier. But ever since the El Capitan upgrade, Apple folks have included the mapping option of VO keys to capslock as an option.