Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad Apple
Today, my Apple Magic Keyboard 2’s special function keys were suddenly stopped functioning. The keys for volume, brightness, play/pause, would not work.

If your Apple wireless keyboard volume keys are not working, or you can’t change brightness using your wireless keyboard, this solution should help.

I think that this fix will apply to any version of Mac OS X or macOS.

I suggest you try the following tactics in the order given. Nothing worked for me until the last tactic, which you can skip to now, if you like. Or read on, and try each of these.

 

Go to Advanced Solution

 

SOLUTION 1. RESTART YOUR MAC.

Maybe it’s been a while? Theoretically, you shouldn’t have to restart your Mac often. But it can be surprisingly effective at fixing odd issues like this. So try that first. :)

 

SOLUTION 2. Disable ‘standard function keys’ in Keyboard under System Preferences

a. Click on the Apple Icon in the top left corner of your screen, and then click on ‘System Preferences…

Clicking on System Preference via the Apple Logo Icon in Mac OS X

b. Within System Preferences, click on ‘Keyboard‘. On the following screen, ensure that you do not have a check mark in the box that says “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys”.

Mac Keyboard System Preferences - Unchecked box for standard function keys

 

 

SOLUTION 3. BLAME THE BETA.

Any chance you’re using a beta version of macOS? If you’re not sure about your answer, then the answer is almost certainly no. Beta versions are used to test a piece of software before it’s released. Usually you have to sign up to be a beta tester.

So, but, if you are in fact a beta tester… I’d blame the beta.
Submit a bug report, wait for the alpha, or downgrade to the latest alpha release that available in the App Store.

 

SOLUTION 4. DO A DEBUG RESET OF YOUR BLUETOOTH CONNECTIONS.

It sounds complicated, but this solution is fast, effective and easy. And it’s non-destructive, so you won’t have to do a lot of work to get up and going. The whole process should take 60 seconds.

a. Make sure that you can see the Bluetooth icon on your menu bar at the top of your screen.

Bluetooth icon in macOS menu bar

If you can see this icon, go to step c below.
If you can’t see this icon, you will need to enable the feature to Show Bluetooth in menu bar.

b. Optionally enable the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
Click on the Apple Logo in the top right corner of the screen, and select ‘System Preferences…’

Clicking on System Preference via the Apple Logo Icon in Mac OS X

Then, within System Preferences, click on Bluetooth.

Enabling 'Show Bluetooth in Menu Bar' in System Preferences

You’re now ready to move on to the next step.

 

c. On your keyboard hold down Shift and Alt.
Pressing Alt and Shift on Magic Keyboard in Mac

 

d. With these two buttons held down on the keyboard with your left hand, use your right hand to click on the Bluetooth icon on your menu bar. This will open the special Debug menu for your Bluetooth connections. You’ll get a ton more info & options here, compared to the normal menu.

You can now let go of those button on the keyboard. They’ve completed their task. :)

We’re now going to break the connection with all Bluetooth devices. So, if you’re on a Mac that doesn’t have a built-in keyboard (like an iMac), you may want to have a USB keyboard ready. If you’re on a laptop, you’ll be just fine.

 

e. Hover over Debug so that its sub-menu opens up, then click on Remove all devices.

Bluetooth Debug - Remove all devices

This will tell macOS to forget everything it thinks it knows about your connected Bluetooth devices.

You’ll get the following warning. Again: you should be prepared to switch over to your Mac’s built-in keyboard, or plug in a wired USB keyboard for these next steps.

f. Click Remove when the following confirmation window appears:

Are You Sure you want to continue?

 

g. Now, in the menu bar at the top of your screen, click on the Bluetooth icon again.
(This time, you do not need to hold down Shift and Alt).

Opening Bluetooth Prefernces in macOS

 

h. In Bluetooth System Preferences, you should see a list of all the Bluetooth devices you use. They should all be disconnected now. In this list, find your wireless Bluetooth keyboard.

Bluetooth System Preferences, with no connections

i. Simply click the Connect box beside your keyboard.
Connection should happen quickly and without much interaction, or need to enter a pairing code.

Click Connect beside your keyboard in the list of Bluetooth Devices

 

 

And that’s it!! If your experience is anything like mine, you will have your special function key functionality back. The top of your keyboard should work again. Wahoo!!

TIP: Don’t forget to click Connect on all relevant devices you want to use, including Bluetooth speakers, headphones, trackpads, mice.

Next Step…

Now that your keyboard is back in business, you may want to consider increasing your keyboard key repeat rate, via some command-line arguments in Terminal.app. It’s easy to do, and will help speed up your slow repeat rate in Mac OS X.

[SOLVED] Wireless Magic Keyboard Special Function Buttons Not Working
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5 thoughts on “[SOLVED] Wireless Magic Keyboard Special Function Buttons Not Working

  • April 28, 2020 at 7:14 pm
    Permalink

    No difference for me, my delete key works as a delete key but also affects the brightness of my screen. Nothing has changed since trying what you recommended. Both Delete and Tab change screen luminosity whilst doing their assigned tasks, it’s driving me crazy.

    Reply
    • April 28, 2020 at 9:06 pm
      Permalink

      Wow, that would drive me crazy too. I’m sorry this didn’t do the trick for you.
      I’m wondering about the possibility of it being a physical issue with the keyboard.
      I wonder if you’ve tried this yet, just to help diagnose the exact issue (but unfortunately not fix it).

      Do you maybe possibly have an iPhone? If so, you could turn off the connection between the keyboard and your Mac, and connect the keyboard to the iPhone. The keyboard’s brightness function will adjust the iPhone’s brightness. So… if you find that the Delete and Tab keys change screen luminosity on this totally different device, then I think we can safely say there’s something like a short circuit within the keyboard itself. :(
      That’s a ridiculously complex mission of investigation to suggest, I know. But it could provide a little bit more knowledge.
      If it *doesn’t* change the luminosity on the iPhone, that’s a good sign that there’s still just a setting wrong somewhere on the Mac. What about starting in Safe mode, by holding down Shift while starting the machine? It will cause a very long startup but can sometimes dislodge some crappy settings, with very minimal risk. Once you’re in safe mode, test things out. Is it better? If yes, then restart. The Mac will start again in normal mode. And hopefully the problem is solved. Fingers crossed, tightly!!

      Reply
  • April 8, 2020 at 3:24 am
    Permalink

    This worked for me, thank you!

    Reply
    • April 12, 2020 at 6:18 pm
      Permalink

      Nice!! I’m glad :)

      Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 4:58 am
    Permalink

    I just hit this problem and found connecting the Magic Keyboard to my Mac with the lightning cable and disconnecting it again fixed the problem. Somehow when it connected via Bluetooth earlier it got into an unknown keyboard state. Running through the unknown keyboard type wizard that had popped up hadn’t fixed the problem.

    Reply

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