Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, Air, and Magic Keyboards | Subtle Differences Writers Need to Know

Apple MacBook Keyboards for Writers
No other company is making quality keyboards like Apple. Choose one of the keyboards below that fits you, and your life will be bliss.

Apple MacBook and Magic Keyboards – Subtle Differences Writers Must Know Before Buying

Though the keyboards on all MacBook computers are similar in size and shape of keys, they vary on one crucial variable that, for me really is the deciding factor for comfort as I type. This year I’ll write something like half-a-million words. The keyboard I use should just work and should get out of the way. It should be an extension of my mind, not something there to overcome. Typing should be as fluid as Tai Che, and my fingers and wrists shouldn’t tire of the activity. I should be able to type ten-thousand words a day without any physical issues.

The keyboard must be an extension of me, not something for me to overcome with my fingers and muscle memory trying to do something different because I’ve typed a certain way for thirty-four years. Typing should be as fluid as Tai Che, and my fingers and wrists shouldn’t tire of the activity. I should be able to type ten-thousand words a day without any physical issues.

Below I’ll cover the subtle differences between Apple’s keyboards for the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook 12-inch, and the Magic Keyboard.

MacBook 12-inch Keyboard | 2017

Typing on the MacBook 12-inch is almost like typing on a flat surface. In fact, if you were typing on keys flat against the table for instance, and had some haptic feedback, slight vibration to let you know you hit a key and typed a character, the two experiences would be almost indistinguishable. The first version of this computer was unusable by most who reviewed it. In 2017 it has been updated and now matches the keyboard for the MacBook Pro 13-inch 2017 models. This is a big improvement, and some people may be able to use these ultra-shallow keys. Others, couldn’t possibly use them.

Many people choose this MacBook because it's so lightweight, and the screen is very sharp. Is it right for you?
Many people choose this MacBook because it’s so lightweight, and the screen is very sharp. Is it right for you? Click the image to see more information.

See Apple’s New MacBook 12-inch Computer – Under 1600 USD Here

MacBook Air 11-Inch Keyboard | Any Year

Absolutely ideal. Just the right amount of play in the keys, and clickiness to know you typed a character. This is the best feeling MacBook keyboard of all of the notebook computers. Writers, if the size and clarity of the screen don’t matter that much to you – and you’re on a budget – just go immediately to Amazon and get a low-priced 2016 MacBook Air 11-inch notebook computer and you’ll be in heaven.

Absolutely ideal. Just the right amount of play in the keys, and clickiness to know you typed a character. This is the best feeling MacBook keyboard of all of the notebook computers. Writers, if the size and clarity of the screen don’t matter that much to you – and you’re on a budget – just go immediately to Amazon and get a low-priced 2016 MacBook Air 11-inch notebook computer and you’ll be in heaven.

MacBook Air 11-inch for Writers
The best keyboard I’ve ever typed on. Why did I sell my MacBook Air 11-inch? Clic image for more info.

See Apple’s MacBook Air 11-Inch Laptop Here – under 900 USD

MacBook Air 13-Inch Keyboard | Any Year

A close second in the feeling of keyboard travel and clickiness – and really, probably the best notebook computer for most writers to get. The keyboard is very similar to the MacBook Air 11-inch, and yet you have a lot more screen to look at. The screen quality is just slightly better on the 11-inch in terms of clarity – of resolution (135 dpi vs. 128) but the difference is so minuscule you won’t really see it when looking at the screens side-by-side.

MacBook Air 13-inch computer for writers.
Second best keyboard is this one on the MacBook Air 13-inch. You just cannot go wrong with this! Click the image to see more info.

See Apple’s MacBook Air 13-Inch Laptop Here – under 900 USD

MacBook Pro 13-Inch Retina | Pre-2016

The year+ old MacBook Pros all have a keyboard much better to type on than the newest 2016 and later model MacBook Pros. Still, the keyboards are not as good as the MacBook Air keyboards. In these model notebooks, they added stronger push necessary to click a key. The pressure needed is roughly the same as when using a Lenovo IdeaPad with the chiclet keyboards. It’s more than should be necessary. It’s more pressure than needed with what I’m calling the PERFECT notebook computer keyboard – the MacBook Airs.

Is it a bad experience to type with the MacBook Pro keyboards pre-2016? No. Not bad. I’ve used mine for a couple of years now. That’s why, when I went into two Mac stores last night to try out the new and older keyboards, I had this epiphany – and had to write about the subtle differences between keyboards to try to help you understand what the difference is.

MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2015 for writers.
A very capable notebook computer, the MacBook Pro 13 Retina pre-2016 is also a very good writers’ computer. I have one. I loved it over the past 2 years. Click image for more information.

See Apple’s MacBook Pro 13-Inch Retina Laptop Here – under 1000 USD if used

MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina | Pre-2016

is just like the MacBook Pro 13-inch pre-2016 keyboards, except the key travel is even slightly MORE. So, the pressure required to type is just the same, but the distance each key travels down and up is just slightly more. It’s annoying. It feels like someone is putting the breaks on my fingers when I type with the MacBook Pro keyboards now.

MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina 2015 for writers
Heavier and with a spectacular big screen, the MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina notebook is also a decent writers’ notebook. You can handle any video editing or other heavy tasks with this one. Click image for more info.

See Apple’s MacBook Pro 15-Inch Retina Laptop Here – under 1900 USD New

Last night as I typed with the 13-inch MacBook Air, I was trying to justify buying it on the spot. It was $1,100 USD and almost an impulse buy, but we’re trying to save money at the moment, and my MacBook Pro has been doing fine. I don’t know if you’re the same way, but when I find a tool that can help me do something markedly better, I must have that tool – regardless of price.

I don’t know if you’re the same way, but when I find a tool that can help me do something markedly better, I must have that tool – regardless of price.

Last night at the store I was almost done justifying it in my mind, and I almost bought that MacBook Air. It was ABSOLUTE MAGIC to type on that MacBook Air keyboard. Best typing experience I’ve ever had. Absolutely sure of it now that I’ve tried everything else. The funny thing is, I had the 11-inch Air before I bought this MacBook Pro 13-inch. I never did get used to the difference between them, I still strongly prefer the Air’s 11-inch keyboard experience.

MacBook Pro 13 or 15-inch – 2016 and Newer Models

Why Apple decided to take what is truly the best keyboard in existence for notebook computers, and radically change it, is something people will be talking about for another decade. Maybe then we won’t need to type and we’ll instead be talking to a computer which is writing our book, or it’s reading our minds. Note – I’ve tried speech to text dictation to write parts of my books and articles, it is a nice break at times where your hands hurt, but the editing that must be done after a bit of it, makes it hardly worth it.

The 2016 model MacBook Pros were totally redesigned, and most Mac users didn’t like them much at all. The keyboard was initially atrocious. It was just like the MacBook 12-inch – flat and virtually no key travel at all. It was too loud as well, it was as if they tried to make it sound like a real keyboard when they had compromised so much on the feel and function of their new keyboards.

A recent update gave the MacBook Pro keys a little more key travel and a little less noise. Typing on both the new 13 and 15-inch models last night had me thinking that I could almost get used to it if I had to. Thing is, I certainly don’t have to – so I won’t. I’ll just buy the older model Pro, or Air, both with great keyboards.

Or, I’ll just use the Magic Keyboard I’ll tell you about below. It’s Bluetooth operated, and you can use it for any Mac computer you want, and it gives a similar experience as the MacBook Air! So really, as long as we have the Magic Keyboard available, we’ll have a nice typing experience to use with any computer – even Windows computers with Bluetooth! I’m getting ahead of myself…

The new MacBook Pro keyboards are fast – I’ll give them that. Even not having used one, I adjusted quickly to the idea of typing on the flat keys with very little key travel. At times I could buzz along doing 90 words-per-minute, and other times I hit a speed bump and had to consciously think about what I was doing. I am not sure, but I could possibly become accustomed to typing on the new keyboards. But the feel is completely wrong. The feel is so different from typing on a writer’s keyboard, that I can’t seem to get over the idea in my mind. It’s a little mind fart that I can’t seem to shake out of my head at the store.

MacBook Pro 13 Retina 2017 for Writers
Sharp, with amazing screens, Apple went bizarro with their keyboard revamp. Some writers love them. Check them out before buying, do not buy without typing on this keyboard. Click image for more info.

See Apple’s New MacBook Pro 13-Inch Retina Laptop Here – Under 2000 USD

2017 MacBook Pro 15-inch for Writers
A workhorse, expensive, but there really isn’t anything like it. If you like the keyboard and you need a computer that can work very fast for video editing or some other heavy task – get this MacBook Pro 15-inch. Click the image for more info.

See Apple’s New MacBook Pro 15-Inch Retina Laptop Here – Under 2000 USD

If I took one of the new MacBook Pros home and made myself use it – then yeah, I’d probably adapt to the keyboard. I would probably type 90+ words-per-minute consistently and with very few errors. I think it would take a month or so to get used to the new style of shallow-travel keys.

Thing is, I fear there’s a part of my mind that couldn’t get over the change. At least not for a long while. I have this weird emotional bond to pressing a key down in order to make it work. I know I do. I feel it when I try the new flat keyboards.

Every keyboard I’ve used since the IBM Selectric I used in 11th grade in high school, felt like a real keyboard. This new flat keyboard style doesn’t feel like that. It doesn’t feel good. I don’t know that I would ever come to love it like the feeling I get now – hammering it out on a keyboard that requires more key-travel. I’m not sure you will all get what I’m saying, but some of you will.

So, can you use the new MacBook Pro computers and their fancy new shallow keyboards? Maybe you can. I think it will take a couple of hours of typing on one to really know for sure. Every time you go into a store with MacBooks, try them all out. Just start typing whatever comes to mind in the TextEdit program on the application bar at the bottom of the screen. See what feels best for you. I’ve done it dozens of times now. I’m a keyboard freak. I love the feel of a perfect keyboard. Right now that perfect feeling only comes from the MacBook Air series and almost from the Magic Keyboard. Let’s talk about that now.

Maybe you can. I think it will take a couple of hours of typing on one to really know for sure. Every time you go into a store with MacBooks, try them all out. Just start typing whatever comes to mind in the TextEdit program on the application bar at the bottom of the screen. See what feels best for you. I’ve done it dozens of times now. I’m a keyboard freak. I love the feel of a perfect keyboard. Right now that perfect feeling only comes from the MacBook Air series and it’s almost as good from the Magic Keyboard. Let’s talk about that now.

Magic Keyboard | Any Year

The coolest option we have is to buy the MacBook Keyboard and use that to type, instead of whatever keyboard Apple stuck on the computer we have. Heck, you can even use the Magic Keyboard on your Windows machine! You can use it with your iPad or iPhone – I do sometimes.

Apple's Magic Keyboard with Bluetooth for writers.
Third best keybarod, and really, it’s probably impossible to distinguish it from the MacBook Air keyboards, is this Magic Keyboard you can use with Bluetooth to connect to any of your Apple computers, tablets, or iPhones, and some of your other computers or tablets.

See Apple’s Magic Keyboard Here – under 100 USD

If you need the separate number pad because you work with data entry a lot, you can find the full Magic Keyboard with number pad here:

Apple Magic Keyboard with Number Pad for writers.
If you need the number pad, here you go.

See Apple’s Full-Size Magic Keyboard Here – under 140 USD

In fact, one thing you might do is just buy a 2017 12.9-inch iPad Pro and use it with the Magic Keyboard. Now you have a ‘laptop’ with a touchscreen and a perfect keyboard. It’s super lightweight, and you have phenomenal battery life and a mind-blowing screen. I could use the Magic Keyboard full-time, but remember how I said I’m attached to the keyboards that I have to press? I’m also attached to the MacBook Trackpads. They are absolute magic to use.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch paired with the Magic Keyboard, perfect for writers.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch paired with the Magic Keyboard, perfect for writers. Click the image for more info.

See Apple’s New iPad Pro 12-inch – Under 1100 USD Here

Only one problem I have with the Magic Keyboards is the lack of backlighting on the keys. Really Apple? In 2017?

As much as I love the keyboards on Apple’s older computers, I love the trackpads even MORE. They just work, and they work phenomenally. If you haven’t tried them, please, just go to a store now and try one. They are better than anything on any other company’s machine. Every tech reviewer EVER has said the same thing. They are, without a doubt, alien technology that Apple somehow fused into their notebooks. And wait, you can also buy a Bluetooth Magic Trackpad to use with your computer! It doesn’t work well with anything outside the Apple ecosystem, which is a bit of a bummer, but you should be using an Apple computer anyway. Believe me.

If you are a writer looking for a computer, and you’re wondering which one you should get. I think you should strongly consider an Apple MacBook notebook computer. Since I switched four-years ago from a Windows-based computer, I’ve been so happy using the Mac operating system and hardware. I’ve been overjoyed, and that word isn’t strong enough to convey my bliss (no joke!).

I was strongly considering changing my life in 2013 when I was up to my eyebrows in BS from my Windows machines. I was going to stop using computers as a way to make money – I was that fed up with them. My last chance was to try Mac and see if I could ‘stand it.’ What happened was, I not only adapted to Mac, but I loved the entire experience immediately.

Below I’ve added some purchase points that I would use to make my next purchase – and that I think might help you make your choice about which MacBook or iMac to buy.


Do You Want the Best Typing Experience, Regardless of Screen Quality?

You almost surely want the MacBook Air 11-inch notebook computer.


Do You Want the Best Typing Experience You Can Get, AND the Best Screen?

You may want the 2017 iPad Pro 12.9-inch paired with the Magic Keyboard. Or, if you don’t want the iPad or need the touchscreen, you would like the MacBook Pro 13 or 15-inch Retina screen model notebook computer. Or, if you don’t care if your computer is a desktop with 21.5 inch or 27-inch Retina screen, you might want an Apple iMac that comes with the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.


Do You Want the Best Keyboard, and don’t Want the Smaller MacBook Air 11-inch, you want the 13-inch?

Get that here.


Do You Want to Use Your Windows Computer with an Amazing Keyboard?

Make sure your computer is compatible with the Magic Keyboard, and go get one.


Do You Want a Very Good Keyboard, Excellent Screen, and You Need a Computer to Handle Video Editing or Some Other Intensive Process?

Get the MacBook Pro 13 or 15-inch model notebook computer from pre-2016. Or, the iMac 21.5-inch Desktop with Retina 4K screen can handle that workload.

See Apple’s New iMac 21-inch 4K Desktop – Under 1600 USD Here


Do You Want to Buy a MacBook with a Flat Keyboard?

I suggest you visit the store many times and write for hours cumulatively, to see if you can really use these new keyboards. They are not for everyone. They are not even for most people. But, go have a look and see what happens! There are 3 notebook computers that may fit your needs – a 12-inch MacBook, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, and a new 15-inch MacBook Pro.


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