the Life of Zim

12th January
written by dzimney

First a quick review:
Quite a while ago I purchased the Logitech DiNovo Mac Edition wireless keyboard. And I have to say, I really love this keyboard. Especially compared to the Apple’s wireless keyboard. First off, it’s a full keyboard with a number pad, compared to Apple’s. Apple does make a full keyboard, but not a wireless version (at least as of this post date they don’t). Next up is battery life. The DiNovo runs extremely efficiently. I’ve had mine for months now and the battery still reads as full. Whereas when I was using the Apple wireless keyboard, my batteries would be drained after a few months of use. Granted the DiNovo takes four AAA batteries vs Apple’s three AA (or two AA with the newer keyboards). But still. I’d rather not have to worry about it, and from my experience the DiNovo lasts at least twice as long with extra batteries. Finally connectivity. The DiNovo uses a wireless USB adapter which works flawlessly. For me, I use an extra monitor with USB ports, so there’s no issue of having to constantly plugin and unplug the USB adapter from my laptop. I have a few usb devices I use in my workstation and only use one plug when hooking into my laptop. Apple’s keyboard on the other hand uses bluetooth to connect. I have had several problems with connectivity on these. My wife also has used one of these and having two in the house makes everything more difficult. In short, when they work, great. When the don’t, they’re a huge hassle and not worth the trouble shooting time.

So, although I’m annoyed with the functionality of the Dashboard Key and Brightness Keys on the DiNovo, I still would, will, and do choose the Logitech DiNovo wireless keyboard over Apple’s Wireless Keyboard hands down. It’s simply better in every respect for what I’m looking for and need.

Now for the issue at hand…
So the issue here is really quite simple. On the keyboard, as is standard on all Mac keyboards, a number of the F* keys (F1, F2, etc.) have dual functionality, mainly media control (play, pause, etc.), volume levels and brightness. For the most part everything on the keyboard works as expected. The media controls and volume controls work without a hitch. The rest however do require you to download and install the Logitech Control Center for Mac. This installs an preference pane that allows you to configure those special function keys. However, for me at least, even after installing the Logitech Control Center, my brightness (F1 and F2) and dashboard (F4) keys still didn’t work. To this date, I still don’t know why.

However, I have figured out a quick fix for the dashboard key. This hack opens the dashboard, but unfortunately does not close it the way the key works on a native Apple keyboard. To accomplish this, open the Logitech Control Center from the System Preferences on your Mac. If your keyboard is connected, you should see it listed. Click on the keyboard you wish to configure and press the Configure… button. A new window will open. Select the Keys tab in the upper left if it has not been selected already. Now you should see a list of all the special function keys and their assigned actions. If you select F4, you should see that it is set to Exposé, Dashboard & Spaces. Again, I don’t know why this doesn’t work, but it just doesn’t. As a fix, change this to Open Application. From here on the bottom of the window under Details you should be able to set which Application opens. Select Other… and find the Dashboard Application in your Applications directory. This should now cause the F4/Dashboard key to launch the Dashboard Application. Again though, pressing the key again, unfortunately, does not close the Dashboard as a native keyboard will.


A better fix…
So I just figured out a better fix for the Dashboard key. Essentially, what you want to do is set up a hotkey control for the Dashboard under System Preferences -> Keyboard and then set the action of the Dashboard key to Keystroke and enter the given hot-key-stroke. Ya dig?

So go to System Preferences -> Keyboard (under Hardware). Select the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Now, select Dashboard & Dock under the left column. In the right column you should see Dashboard listed. If you double click the right side where it shows the shortcut, you should be able to enter whatever keystroke you want.

Now, go back into the Logitech Control Center and configure your keyboard (as described above). Select the dashboard button and select Keystroke as the Assigned action. Now at the bottom under Details you should be able to enter the keystroke you just entered in the Keyboard Shortcuts. Ta-Da!! Should work instantly.

With this solution, the Dashboard key will now both open and close the Dashboard.

Short Rant
It’s upsetting that things don’t just work the way they should. In addition to this issue, I use Songbird as my media player. Unfortunately, the media keys don’t work with Songbird and there’s not easy way to reset them so they do. I think these issues are all more related to Apple’s “closed box” system rather than poorly designed/implemented technologies on Logitech and Songbirds part. Of course that could just be my anti-trust conspiracy theories at work.


I actually just read that this is a known issue for Logitech. From what I read it appears to be something that Apple just does. Basically, media controls and brightness controls will only work on a non-Apple external keyboard if there is not an Apple keyboard connected to the computer. So if you’re on a desktop, and for some reason have two keyboards and one is a Logitech and one is an Apple, the controls will work on the Apple, but not the Logitech. Disconnect the Apple keyboard and the Logitech media controls should work. However, if you’re on a laptop, you’re pretty much just screwed as you can’t “disconnect” the laptop’s keyboard. I really fucking hate Apple’s proprietary bullshit. I’ll leave it at that.

A wise man once told me, “You have to be smarter than the machine you’re working with.” I hope this post helps someone solve an issue that I put up with for far too long.