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Give Me My Eject Key Back!

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.


OWC has no affiliation with this software and receives no benefit related to this support (other than a benefit we all share in the continued support of these applications). If you appreciate the function or functionality this software offers, we encourage you to support the authors.
OWC Erik
the authorOWC Erik
I am a member of the web application development team at OWC. I work on our e-commerce site. I am a Mac switcher as of January 2007 and I haven't looked back since. I plan on writing about the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, AppleTV, and neat Mac apps that I find useful. I am big on data storage for protecting my media files and so one of my favorite pieces of hardware on my desk (or should I say under) is the NewerTech Guardian MAXimus external RAID-1 hard drive solution.
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  • Thanks for your help but if someone has a small keyboard (FN,CTRL,ALT,CMD) and you want to change Eject to ForwardDelete you has to use this code in Karabiner.

    Eject to ForwardDelete
    (Description Here)
    __KeyToKey__ ConsumerKeyCode::EJECT, KeyCode::DELETE, ModifierFlag::FN, KeyCode::DELETE

  • On my MacBook Air, I’d like to change the [ key to ä, the { to Ä, the ] to ö and the } to Ö. Any suggestions?

  • Very cool!

    I may have to play with this. My optical drive is being difficult atm. Will be another month or so until I’ll have the time to replace it. (Very excited to attempt my first difficult install! :D ) May as well use it for other options in the interim. :)

    Thanks for sharing Erik! (And congrats on the new SSD!)

  • KeyRemap4MacBook also allows to remap “fn” key combinations! I usually use the f-keys as standard f1-f12 instead of controlling brightness/volume etc. Trying to change volume is quite awkward then, because the fn key is situated all to the left.

    With KR4MB I remapped right-ALT to function as FN, but only in combination with certain keys (like volumes f-keys and cursor keys = single-handed page-up/down/start/end).

  • KeyRemap4MacBook lets me swap the colon and semi-colon on my keyboard – which is great when I’m entering lots of time data into a spreadsheet. I like the option of a faster keyboard repeat rate too; much more responsive.

    Thanks for bringing this program to my attention.

  • Not free, but Keyboard Maestro can also be used to remap the Eject key, and it can be used to remap it any other key or to perform any number of custom actions.

  • Interesting…

    I did not know that the eject key worked with an external optical drive though :S