Pixelmator keyboard by Editors Keys review: A no-brainer for Pixelmator users

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Pixelmator is one of the best Photoshop alternatives available on the Mac App Store. I’ve been using it for quite some time now, but mostly just using a trackpad or mouse to manipulate layers, access tools and edit functions. There are tons of keyboard shortcuts. And if I had the time or patience to learn them all, I would have. Needless to say, I didn’t. So when I got the chance to check out EditorsKeys keyboard specifically designed for Pixelmator, I jumped at it.

To cut it down to the very basics – This is essentially a wired Apple keyboard with numeric keypad. Except it has custom keys to clearly label the Pixelmator keyboard shortcuts, making photo and image editing much quicker and easier. Simply put: If you use Pixelmator on Mac and you don’t already have a grasp of all the shortcuts, you should get this keyboard.

Build quality of the keyboard is exactly the same as Apple’s keyboard, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s an angled aluminum sheet with a plastic base. The raised area, or stand on the back has two USB ports, one on either side to enable you to connect additional USB 2.0 peripherals when it’s convenient. That means using this and typing on it every day is exactly the same as if you’d spent £39 ($49USD) and bought an Apple keyboard without custom keys.

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But this review is essentially about the keys, how useful they are and how well they’ve been labeled. And it’s on that front I have to judge the Pixelmator Keyboard. I have to say, I’m impressed. Mostly.

In my time reviewing phones and accessories for phones and computers, I’ve applied a number of different kinds of skins, decals and screen protectors to various products. I can safely say, getting them absolutely perfect is difficult. I’ve even applied stickers to keyboards before, and I’ve ended up peeling them off because I couldn’t stand the feel of them. I’d almost always leave a tiny bit of the sticker’s edge not quite flush with the keys, and catch them whenever I typed. That’s not the case with the Pixelmator keyboard. The keys don’t feel like they’re stickers at all. It feels like typing on a normal keyboard. And that’s for good reason. The keys are sent blank to EditorsKeys and then the company customizes them in the same way Apple prints their own keyboards.

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Shortcuts are clearly displayed in two forms. Main shortcuts are simply images, or icons on the keys. For instance, the crop tool (on the C button) is clearly the crop icon, matching the design of the crop icon in Pixelmator’s tool kit.

Secondary shortcuts, i.e. those which require the CMD key to be pressed simultaneously, are indicated using red text. I found those difficult to find, especially when there was light reflecting off the keys from overhead light bulbs. Red isn’t easy to see on black, especially when the typeface is so small. I think, in this situation, yellow might have been a better choice. It would contrast better with black, and is different enough from the white main text to be noticeable.

While I’m nit-picking, it’d also be great to have slightly sharper printed icons and text. Look very closely, and it’s ever so slightly fuzzy. Like I say, this is really nit-picking. From my regular point of view (sitting at my desk and looking down) I can’t tell there’s any fuzziness at all.

It’s not a perfect keyboard. At least, not for me. I’d much rather have these custom keys applied to one of Apple’s wireless keyboards and ditch the extra width necessary for the cursors and number pad. It’d also get rid of the cable, which I also happen not to like very much. But that’s just personal preference. I prefer the smaller, wireless keyboards to the big wired ones. They take up less room, are easier to move around and there are no cables messying my desk surface.

The long and short of it is that this keyboard setup saved me a lot of time. What’s more, it made it ridiculously easy to hide and show set tools in Pixelmator which would normally be blocking my view. For the convenience and time saved alone, this is a must buy for anyone who uses the image editing software regularly. If anything, it gets you familiar with all the useful shortcuts.

You can buy the Pixelmator keyboard for Mac from EditorsKeys.com for £79.99 ($125USD) plus shipping, down from £109.99 ($172USD). The company also sells custom keyboards for popular image, audio and video editing software like PhotoShop, Final Cut and Logic Pro.

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Comments

  1. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    You talk about applying the decals then say that you have to buy the whole keyboard readymade… which one is it?

    • 311sie - 8 years ago

      The review is for a Pixelmator “enhanced” keyboard for Mac. He only mentions the decals -and applying them to an existing keyboard- as a preference, which does not speak well for this product.

    • Cam Bunton - 8 years ago

      These come pre-applied by Editors Keys. I definitely prefer paying more for it already applied, than doing it myself. It’s not easy.

  2. charilaosmulder - 8 years ago

    Wish I could apply these as decals on the Apple wireless keyboard. I don’t want another expansive keyboard, Apple’s works just fine.

  3. Vogt Joseph - 8 years ago

    Too bad that Pixelmator is now useless. v3 updates corrupt cloud files and cannot be trusted.

  4. robinlmp - 8 years ago

    Get back to me when pixelmator has adjustment layers. Not worth wasting time on it until then.

  5. chriswaco - 8 years ago

    This reminds me of the old WordPerfect/DOS keyboard overlays that would ship with the software. I don’t miss DOS apps at all, except maybe Wordstar a little.

  6. wootcat - 8 years ago

    Your new design makes this review unreadable. Entire paragraphs of text are overlaid on top of the pictures on my 6.

  7. maysonicwrites - 8 years ago

    What I would really like is a keyboard/trackpad combo which mimicked the configuration of a MacBook – is there any such thing available anywhere? I just bought a Motorola Bluetooth keyboard with attached trackpad – the keyboard is great, but the trackpad sucks.

  8. Walter Tizzano - 8 years ago

    Off topic: I just wanted to congratulate for the new design of the website, I think it’s gorgeous: modern, I like the hi-res big pictures and the layout focused on the content. I write this just because I read a lot of people moaning about it, and I disagree with them: the new design is awesome; I experienced some bugs on the mobile version, but once they’re solved the website will be so much better than it used to be :)

  9. 89p13 - 8 years ago

    Well, based on my visit to their web site, I wouldn’t buy anything there. They had a “Pop Up” to “Join Us” and no way to kill it without supplying an e-mail address.

    Done AND Gone!

    The 9 to 5 Mac works well on my iPad-running a Firefox Beta, but absolutely sucks on the same iPad when using Safari. Still not a big fan of the redo, guys. Sorry.

  10. driverbenji - 8 years ago

    I am on the other side of the keyboard fence, want the 10-key keypad, but prefer bluetooth over wired…I often enter numbers, especially in photo apps. I really wish Apple would take the new MacBook keyboard, make a full keyboard w/10-key, complete w/bluetooth & black light-up keys…SO TIRED OF APPLE’S WHITE PLASTIC, I HATE WHITE PLASTIC.

    That being said, at least these are black on white, but, it would be nice to just buy a decal kit, one where you just place the thing over the keyboard, push down on the edges and all the decals are applied at once.

  11. Jesse Nichols - 8 years ago

    I was initially very annoyed about the terrible redesign. I had resolved not to come back. But, I decided to give it one more chance (thinking that maybe I overreacted).

    Well, the first article that I (attempt to) read is unreadable because the images are overlapping the text. What’s the point of coming to a blog where one can’t read the articles due to poor design choices and botched CSS? So, I’m done. I will be getting my Apple news elsewhere. No hard feelings! But, your blog is no longer a pleasure to read. I wish you well, but goodbye 9to5mac!

  12. Alex Carter - 8 years ago

    $125USD!? I’ll just wait for the Sonder keyboard.