Rich Dougherty

Kinesis Freestyle Pro bindings for Windows

I’ve used the Kinesis split keyboards for years. They have a very wide split that allows me to type with my hands out at shoulder width. Their Freestyle Pro model is programmable and has nicer mechanical switches compared to the old Freestyle models. The programming is handled by the keyboard, not by software, so it’s perfect to use in a Windows corporate environments where you may not be able to remap keys in the OS.

Picture of keyboard

How I remap the keys

The keyboard can be programmed by editing configuration files kept on the keyboard’s internal storage. These are accessed by mounting the keyboard’s drive and editing them. This simple and portable programming model is perfect for me.

  1. Press the SmartSet key and F8 to open the v-drive. The v-drive is the embedded drive which holds the keyboard’s configuration. When opened, the v-drive becomes available as a USB device which is mounted by the OS.

  2. Edit one of the layout configuration files: layouts/layout<1-9>.txt. I tend to keep the original configuration files (1-3) and edit a custom file (4-9).

  3. Reconfigure the bindings:

    1. Disable the Fn key toggle

      A terrible default of the Kinesis keyboards is that the function key is locked on or off when you press it. This means that you often bump it and turn it on, then type the wrong characters. The below setting remaps the Fn key (Hotkey 9) to use its “shift” behaviour than its “toggle” behaviour. This means that you’ll need to hold down the Fn key to activate it - which is probably what you expect anyway.

      fn [hk9]>[fnshf]

      Note that this is the only way to remap the Fn key, since the documentation says:

      The only key that cannot be remapped onboard is the Fn key but the Fn key can be remapped using the SmartSet App or Direct Programming.

    2. Remap the modifier keys

      I prefer to change the control key to be next to the space bar to reduce pain in my fingers. This makes it more like a Mac layout, which I find more comfortable.

  4. Save the file and unmount the drive.

  5. Press SmartSet and F8 to unmount the v-drive.

  6. The layout can be enabled by pressing SmartSet and the number of the layout. E.g. SmartSet and the number 4 enables layout 4.

For more information you can read the keyboard documentation here.