Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard on Mac

I wrote a simple —but ridiculously long— review on Amazon on using MS sculpt keyboard on Mac. Again, it works, but not as it was promised by bloggers or tech-journalists who had written pre-release reviews. It won’t work, because the keyboard is specifically designed and assigned for Windows 8 exclusive features, and Microsoft has no plan to release Mac drivers. Now I would argue those aren’t even features in the first place.

At any rate, I’ve prepared number of ways to make it work on Mac. I would personally recommend using Karabiner, as it is the only free option. But please do consider donating or paying to the developers some coffee money, they do deserve it.

Karabiner-Elements: please check this post out.

ControllerMate ($24.95) Solution

note: ControllerMate is currently incompatible with macOS Catalina.

  1. Download ControllerMate from here, then install it. (It will ask to restart at the end of installation)
  2. Download the already-made settings from here.
  3. Uncompress the file, and in ControllerMate, import (under File menu) the setting.
  4. Enable the settings by checking the appropriate programming group in the side bar. (if solely used by itself, then check the first. If used with karabiner, then check “w/ karabiner” group)

ControllerMate is a paid solution, so it may appear less appealing compared to Karabiner. But it is a solution with finer details and broader control. In theory, you can customize all of Windows specified keys and then some. The settings I’ve made does NOT map the entire keyboard past F4 volume control, but only the calculator key. Several posts I’ve read also recommended ControllerMate for its utility. It is intended to be used with MIFI devices, gaming devices, and etc. On the down side, while it is more GUI-friendly, it requires a lot of handwork to map the entire keyboard. Also it is known to have memory-hogging behaviors and glitches. Giving it a shot wouldn’t hurt, they also have a demo version available on the website.

Let me know if there is any questions or concerns, I’ll try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

updated Dec 7, 2019: added ControllerMate info.

updated Oct 22, 2015: added ControllerMate info.

updated Sep 8, 2016: added Karabiner support info.

updated Sep 21, 2016: added instructions for ControllerMate.

updated Sep 22, 2016: changed instructions for ControllerMate (differentiate left/right option key).

updated Sep 23, 2016: changed instructions for ControllerMate (now downloadable).

updated Sep 27, 2016: Karabiner-Elements can do the trick now. BTT solution is removed.

updated Oct 27, 2016: Karabiner-Elements finally support a keyboard and a bluetooth mouse at the same time.

updated Feb 13, 2017: added GUI modifications setup for Karabiner-Elements. No need to re-do the setup, if you have previously downloaded json file.

updated Jun 12, 2017: separated Karabiner Instruction to this post.

updated Nov 10, 2017: complete overhaul of the post for readability.

updated Oct 15, 2018: fixed the ControllerMate pre-made settings link.


  1. MS support today informed me they are not planning to upgrade sculpt for 10.12. Have you heard any different? Know any work-arounds?

  2. Hi everybody!

    I have a Macbook Pro 2011 and I bought the Sculpt keyboard but I can’t get it working!

    The keyboard just doesn’t exist for Mac OS Sierra.

    I seeked for drivers, tutorials, etc., but all I found were people trying to remap the keys. I wish I had this problem too, because that could mean that the keyboard at least was recognized by OS…

    Does anyone has any tip ou trick to make it work? Where to begin?


    • Hello, sorry for the late response.

      It could be the case where Mac isn’t picking up the USB receiver. You can do that under Apple(menu)>About this Mac>System Report.

      In the report, check if your Mac is picking up the USB receiver. (it should show up as Microsoft Nano Transceiver) It should also list all other USB-connected items, so you can easily guess if it’s the receiver, or the Mac (hardware part of it).

  3. hi
    a couple of questions about the Controller Mate solution

    – does it work on macOS Mojave?
    – will the MS Sculpt wireless numpad work?

    thank you

    • Yes, it works on macOS Mojave. I am currently using Controller Mate with Karabiner on a machine running Mojave. The latest version from the developer’s website is v4.11.1 with the support of High Sierra and Mojave. You shouldn’t have any problems.

      As for the num pad, most keys should work without any additional softwares. The solution I’ve posted includes a way to make calculator key on num pad to work. Make sure num lock is on, as Mac traditionally does not use the num pad as cursor control. You can make sure any related settings are off, (as in num lock is on) by looking for mouse keys settings in System Preferences.

  4. hi
    I’ve bought the Controller Mate solution and your configuration works beautifully with the Sculpt Keyboard and my MBP on Mojave.

    Have only found just one tiny problem:
    On the Mac (using the Sculpt Keyboard),
    when I do:
    Shift 2 –> I get @ but I should be getting ”

    … and when I do:
    Shift ‘ –> I get ” but I should be getting @

    So they are the wrong way around.

    My sculpt keyboard is the UK version, not sure if this is relevant.

    I’m using XCode so the @ is quite important.

    Is this something than I can fix myself (and how) or will I just end up breaking your configuration.


    • I believe it has to do with the fact that you’re using the UK layout. On US layout, Shift+2 yields @ and Shift+’ yields “. The setting I’ve made was made on US layout keyboard. If Mac is getting keyboard as UK layout but exhibiting the US layout behaviors, there is a good chance ControllerMate is overriding it.

      I would suggest using Karabiner with ControllerMate for the time being. Karabiner is used for variety of keyboards, especially different international layouts. You would be back on UK layout right away.

      If you would prefer, it is also possible to edit the settings in accordance to UK layout on ControllerMate, instead of using both Karabiner and ControllerMate. I only have US layout keyboards, so I can’t comment on how ControllerMate will behave on layouts with different structure without actually trying it. I had worked on MS Sculpt with Korean layout once, but KR keyboards follow the US layout structures when it comes to numerals and punctuations. But even if ControllerMate does not have access to pre-made UK building blocks for 2/” and others, it should still be possible to create a logic block to mimic the behaviors.

  5. Hi,

    I just bought the Surface keyboard and my MacBook Pro with High Sierra won’t pair. I’m shown a code and asked to make sure it matches, but there’s no way to enter this code, and so the connection fails. Any suggestions?

    • Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard (one in the featured image for this article) only works via its USB wireless dongle. It will not pair by neither Bluetooth nor WiFi. The dongle could either be in the mouse or the keyboard, depending on the version of the Sculpt set you had purchased. It should work soon as you plug in the USB dongle, and will not prompt paring passwords.

Leave a comment