hacking the Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000

Its not a secret that I have "burning wrist hurt disease". My doctor likes to refer to it as carpel tunnel syndrome.

Lately my wrists have been killing me. At work, I have a dell standard style type of keyboard, and a standard dell mouse with a scroll wheel. My index finger on my right hand is shot from the scrolling motion, and my hands are jacked from typing. I needed some thing better. Enter the Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000.

After I did a little research I decided that the Microsoft Natural Keyboard 4000 was for me. The interesting thing about the keyboard is that it has a "zoom slider". The zoom slider is a cool idea but executed poorly. Who wants a "zoom" slider to change the font size of the screen?

It would be so much better if it was a slider for scrolling. I hit the web and found out there was a hack to do just this over at pain in the tech. In a few steps I was able to change the zoom slider into a scroll slider.

I was happy, but I found that a lot of applications still zoomed in on the text instead of scrolling, like outlook. I decided to hack the commands a bit more, and remove the zoom functionality all together, and replace it with scrolling.

To make things better, Here is a copy of the commands.xml file that I am running, so you can share in my joy also.

To change the zoom into a scroll, using my patched commands.xml file:

  1. Navigate to the your Intelitype Pro directory, mine is "C:Program FilesMicrosoft IntelliType Pro"
  2. Rename the existing commands.xml to commands.xml_OLD
  3. Place the new commands.xml into that directory
  4. Reboot the computer

With the scroll hack in place, I can scroll a window without having to take my hands off the keyboard. Thanks Miscrosoft for making a sweet keyboard, but no thanks for not making it a scroll slider in the first place. A zoom slider is just a stupid idea.

54 Comments

  1. hey man,

    Thanks alot for this great hack.

    I just bought this keyboard and was surprised by the uselessness of the zoom wheel.

    Thanks to your hack, this keyboard is ten times better.

    Scroll wheel, sheesh, what were they thinking!

  2. Thanks a ton, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for, if you have any other hacks for this great keyboard – hit me!

  3. Has anyone figured out how to change the keyes at the top (e.g., favorites, search, mail…) to NOT launch programs, but for text macros? It would really come in handy for games.

    Steve Smith

  4. the only issue i have is that this commands.xml file doesn’t exist on the mac! i found the .pref files, but they’re encoded somehow… does someone have a solution out there?

  5. Does anyone know how to get the spacebar back on if it falls off? I cut off the numpad to give myself more mousing room, but I can’t figure out how the blasted spacebar fits back on! I believe it is different than an old Natural.

  6. Thanks for providing the hacked file. I tried editing the zoom\scroll lines but it only came up with an error. Works fine now.

  7. Thank you for providing this hack! I could not figure out anything useful the stupid zoom slider did. It didn’t seem to work consistently with applications, and there was no documentation that I could find except Microsoft saying how “intuitive” it was, but not actually telling you what it did!

    So, after a year of using the keyboard, does it help your carpal tunnel? I hope so, I just got it and I don’t much like it when my fingers go numb playing the guitar after working on the keyboard (computer keyboard, that is) all day…

  8. Yes, this keyboard has helped me SOOOO much. My hands get tired but the pain is gone. This keyboard has also forced me to type more accurately, and hold my hands in a better fashion. I wish it was wireless though.

  9. Great hack! I’ve had this running for a while… is there anyway to adjust the scroll speed? I often find myself wishing it would scroll faster in Firefox…

  10. Josh:

    Just came across your hack. Downloaded it and it works like a charm. I do like the feature of the ZOOM, but use it about 10% of the time compared to the SCROLL feature. How difficult would it be to set up the “commands.xml” file so that the slider is set to SCROLL by default, but by depressing, lets say the CTRL key, you could temporarily shift the slider back to ZOOM?

    Thanks,
    Leo

  11. Josh:
    I just tried the CTRL key with the slider and it did what I suggested, i.e., it worked as a ZOOM and when I released it, it went back to SCROLL. It appears you were way ahead of me.

    Leo

  12. 2.6.24-19 ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron”

    most of the special buttons work except the 5 different favorites, the zoom slider, and of course the win-key.. F-lock mapping is all f-up… some of the buttons can be remapped with control panel gui from default Xfree86 key config..

    would like to scroll with the slider.. any ideas?

  13. You don’t need to reboot after replacing the .xml file. just kill (from task manager or whatever) itype.exe and then start (run) it again.

  14. This is eight different kinds of awesome. I love this keyboard but have always wanted the zoom slider to scroll instead… Especially as it has always worked wonky for me, using it created a scroll and zoom at the same time (making it twice as worthless). Now it works exactly as I’ve always wanted it to. Bravo!

  15. HELP! I hit the Ctrl and Back/Forward key(s) which “flipped” the screen on its’ side, where the “bottom” of the screen is on the left or right side of the monitor. How do I reset this?

  16. Has anyone figured out how to hack the right-click key (the one that should be the right windows button)?
    I can’t identify which line/code in the xml file would change this…..
    Thanks

  17. Great Hack, I used it for one of my customers with RSI problem and it works like a charm !!! Thanks a million !!! however does any one know how to change the back and the forward buttons to do the horizontal scroll instead of the web page back and forward?

  18. @Ryan re: removing the number pad: AWESOME! I keep telling people I’m going to do this, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

    I wish MS simply offered a version of the keyboard with the number pad on the left side… isn’t this a no brainer?

    I did do a mod where I installed a track pad into the wrist wrest just below the arrow keys, but it has always seemed that simply removing the number pad to get the mouse closer to the keyboard would eliminate the massive pain in my shoulder from having to reach out so far to the right to use my mouse.

    Ideally, I’d like to keep the number pad active, but move it to the other side via a longer wire.

    I’m so happy to see that someone else had this idea, and successfully implemented the mod!

  19. ps To change the SCROLL speed, use the IntelliType keyboard interface panel to increase the ZOOM speed. Because the function has been changed to scroll, the speed now effects this function.

    It’s still not fast enough, IMO, but it will increase the scroll speed.

  20. I just got this keyboard, gotta admit the layout is whacky and something I’m not entirely used to but I’ve heard it takes about a week or so to get used to it. I love the quiet typing with this although I hate not having a skip forward and skip back keys although every media player has shortcuts so it’s not that bad.

    As for the zoom wheel, as I said I’ve just bought this as an upgrade from my wireless comfort keyboard which had a zoom slider and it came in hand for Photoshop that way I could zoom with having to go to the navigator or use a mouse and keep on doing my work so I’m glad that Microsoft kept the zoom slider in.

    It’s a great keyboard so far and I’d recommend it to anyone. =)

  21. Just like Cliff Romine posted on February 7, 2009 I accidentally hit the Ctrl and Forward keys which “flipped” the screen 90 degress where the “bottom” of the screen is on the right side of the monitor. Hitting Ctrl Forward again does not reverse it. Hitting Ctrl Back flips it so that it is on the opposite side. Totally useless each way. Does anyone know how to reset this? Thanks.

  22. Btw, you CAN assign any command to that so called “unassignable” “My Favorites” button….

    You need to add this:
    “Capability Name=’CanRemap’/” put this sentence in “”
    to the section MY_FAVORITES_LEGEND_EVENT of “ITypeDevices.xml” file.

    Then you can go ahead and add 83 (which is the code to “My Favorites” key) to Event Mapping in your registry and make it work however you like 🙂

    To find Event Mapping section in your registry simply Google it…and it’s a good idea to make backup of the ITypeDevices.xml

    Greetings from Istanbul Turkey

  23. Update: To get this to work for FireFox 4, make sure your commads.xml file contains this

    <Application UniqueName=”MozillaWindowClass” AppName=”Netscape”>
    <C319 Type=”6″ KeySeq=”ScrollUp” />
    <C320 Type=”6″ KeySeq=”ScrollDown” />
    </Application>

  24. Josh, thanks so much for your wonderful gift! I transcribe medical reports and have often – VERY – desired the zoom toggle to be scroll. I rushed to follow your directions to download and apply your fix. I restarted my computer, then adjusted my mouse scroll to “5” and, oh so wonderful! its just like awesome magic struck my KB. Life is now complete (well, I guess that is just a little over the top). Thank you, thank you!

  25. Josh, could you re-post the commands.xml/.zip file? It appears to be missing from the link to the other site. Thanks!

  26. Resubmitting…Josh, could you re-post the commands.xml/.zip file? It appears to be missing from the link to the other site. Thanks!

  27. Resubmitting…Josh, could you re-post the commands.xml/.zip file? It appears to be missing from the link to the other site. Thanks!

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