A couple of months ago, I visited the OWC offices and took advantage of OWC Jamie’s workbench skills and had him perform some “OWC Love” on my 2011 MacBook Pro by removing the optical drive and replacing it with an OWC Data Doubler + 750GB HDD – to compliment the 480GB SSD I already have inside as my start-up disk.
This is my first system with an SSD and while I love the blazing fast boot time and application loading speed it offers, I wanted some additional storage for editing my home movies and housing my music library. After the additional drive was installed, I formatted it into two partitions so I could have a dedicated Carbon Copy Cloner backup of my iPhoto library from the SDD on the HDD as well. Preserving my family photos is my #1 priority and since my MacBook Pro is not always connected to my home network, I can’t always be sure that it is backing up to my external drives like my iMac, so this extra internal drive gives me some piece of mind.
With the optical drive removed, I started thinking about how the Eject key was now totally useless, and I thought that maybe there might be some way to re-purpose it to do something useful. Turns out that I was by far not the first person to ever have this thought and that there are apps pretty much dedicated to remapping the Eject key. These apps are especially popular with MacBook Air owners who are without an internal optical drive right out of the box.
The app I decided to go with is KeyRemap4MacBook (free download). It can be used to remap nearly all of the non-alphanumeric keys found on the Apple Macbook keyboard, each to a set of other functions. You can assign the Right Command key to do something different than the Left Command key, or make keys behave differently based on the Application you are within (more so than the built-in System Preferences lets you control with Keyboard Shortcuts).
Using KeyRemap4MacBook, I remapped the Eject key to act like a Forward Delete key (Fn + Delete). One thing I really like about KeyRemap4MacBook is that it gives options to preserve actual Eject functionality for times when I may have an external optical drive connected to my MacBook Pro or shared from another Mac over the network. So, my Eject key doesn’t lose any functionality.
I would almost recommend this to all users, even those with their optical drives intact because of this dual function capability…especially if you are like me and only dealing with optical media a small fraction of the time.
One note about the Eject key is that it does not have a regular delay when pressed. To make it act like a regular key, you must also install one additional helper application, NoEjectDelay (also free, same developer).
So, with about 30 minutes of time you can add a second hard drive to your MacBook, and with about two more minutes of time, you can reclaim your Eject key back with KeyRemap4MacBook.
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