Portuguese keyboard layout for Windows VM running on a Mac

Portuguese keyboard layout for Windows VM running on a Mac

Hi all

I would like to share with you a small utility I created some years ago when I first started using a Mac. As you know our wonderful Service Studio still does not run natively on Mac, so I had to resort to a Windows VM. When that happened, I immediately noticed that some keys in my MacBook did not match the characters they produced - noticeably some combinations such as {}, * and +, and some accent keys.

TLDR: jump here.

What? Is there a difference?
Yes! If you never noticed, the layout for Portuguese keyboards varies a bit between a PC and a Mac.

A PC keyboard for PT-PT (Portuguese/Portugal) looks like this (source):

If you are in Brazil then the PC keyboard looks like this:

When you switch to a Mac, the keyboard layout changes a bit again. Apple uses the same layout for Portugal and Brazil. The layout is closer to the Portuguese PC layout than the Brazilian, but it's still different from both (source):
Notice the difference in the keys close to the ENTER key. In the Portuguese layout they switch positions in a rotating schema; for the Brazilian layout, the difference is just huge!

Great... So how do I deal with this?

You have at least two options:
  • Your virtualization software will typically allow you to remap keys. I however advise against it - it gets tricky sometimes.
  • Apple offers you the idea of remaping the keyboard yourself (link to Apple Support). This is how I solved it, and I decided to share the files so no one else had to remap the keyboard again.

So what do I need to do?

  1. In your Windows VM, download the PT_Mac layout from here;
  2. Extract the ZIP;
  3. Install the executable file for your system (x86, amd64 or ia64). If not sure, try amd64 first, then x86, then ia64. Only the correct one will install.

  4. After the installation, you will see a new keyboard layout in the language bar. Just activate it:

  5. If you want to keep the new keyboard as default, just edit the preferences.

Final thoughts
I have created this layout about 3 years ago and never had the need to change it. Since then I have shared it with a number of friends and coworkers and they have all used it "happily ever after".

I found it useful to instal this in corporate systems as well. In systems I frequently remote desktop to, it is a huge pain removed when I access them from my Mac.

I kept some combinations working with both the mac and PC shortcut - e.g. you can type { with both ALT-GR_SHIFT_8 (Mac combination) or with ALT-GR_7 (PC combination).
Others I had to keep the PC version only - e.g. you cannot input € using ALT-GR_3, since in a PC it introduces the £ symbol; I mapped the ALT-GR_E combination only.

If you use it, please let me know what you thought of this.