Adding Hyper key support to the Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard

What is the Hyper key?

The Hyper key is a specially-named modifier key that's really just a combination of multiple other modifiers:

  • On macOS, that means shift + control + option + command
  • On Windows, shift + control + alt + windows
  • On Linux, shift + control + alt + super

It's nice because it gives you a level of keyboard shortcut that you know won't be hijacked by other apps or the OS.

Sure, ⌘ + o is reserved for "Open"... but hyper + o is up for grabs!

Alternatives to my approach

I use macOS, and started looking into how to add Hyperkey support. Luckily, a standalone app exists that does exactly that, aptly named Hyperkey.

This was fine for a while, but I kept running into a few inconsistencies where Hyperkey would be running but the actual key remapping wouldn't work. It was frustrating enough to go spelunking for other options.

The best option I found only works if you have a Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard. If you don't, you'll have to stick with Hyperkey or find a similar app for your OS.

Remapping a Hyper key on the Kinesis Advantage2

So, let's assume you've got a Kinesis Advantage2 keyboard and want to set up a Hyper key without additional software.

Here are the necessary incantations to get it set up:

  1. Ensure you're on the latest firmware version (at least version 1.0.521).
    • You can check this by pressing program + escape in an open text editor. You'll get a status printout with your firmware version, which you can check against the "Firmware Updates" section of their support page.
    • If you need to update, you can follow the update instructions in the official Kinesis PDF.
  2. Enter Power User Mode by pressing program + shift + escape. Your keyboard lights should blink four times; keep holding down program and shift until they're done blinking.
  3. Mount your keyboard as a device by pressing program + F1.
    • Actually getting the device to show up on my Mac seemed to be a bit fiddly. Don't get discouraged if you don't see it. Just make sure you're in Power User Mode (press program + escape in a text editor for a status printout) and try again.
  4. Head to the mounted device, open your layouts folder, and open the appropriate text file for your layout. This is probably qwerty.txt, but if you're a Dvorak user you'll want to open dvorak.txt.
  5. Add a line to this file that remaps your preferred key to a Hyper key. I wanted Caps Lock to be my Hyper key, so the line looks like [caps]>[hyper].
  6. Save the file, eject the mounted drive, and exit Power User Mode with program + shift + escape.
  7. You should now have a Hyper key by pressing your Caps Lock button! You can test by opening an app that supports it like Raycast and trying to set a hotkey that uses it.