Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know

Apple's new 21.5 inch Retina 4K iMac and 27-inch Retina 5K iMac come with new accessories. Magic accessories. The Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and optional Magic Trackpad 2 to be specific. And yes, the Magic Trackpad 2 has Force Touch! Here's everything you need to know about Apple's new accessories.

What makes these magic accessories so new?

The Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 have been redesigned: They're now slimmer, sleeker, and more comfortable to use than ever.

They're also now fully rechargeable, with built-in lithium-ion batteries, so say goodbye to having to swap disposable AA cells.

How do they recharge?

A Lightning cable! Just like the iPhone, iPad, and new Apple TV controller, the company's new Magic accessories all come with a Lightning-to-USB cable. Plug the Lightning end into the Magic accessory and the USB end into your Mac or an optional USB adapter, and charge away.

How often do I have to charge them? What's the battery life like?

Apple says the new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 should last you about a month or more on a single charge.

They're still wireless and use Bluetooth, though, right?

Yes, the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 work over Bluetooth on any Bluetooth-capable Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later. The Magic Trackpad 2 works over Bluetooth on any Bluetooth 4.0-capable Mac running OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later.

They'll come pre-paired with any new Mac that includes them; if bought separately, the accessories pair instantly when you plug the Lightning cable in to your Mac for the first time.

Okay, tell me about the Magic Keyboard?

The new Magic Keyboard isn't just a new version of the old Apple Wireless Keyboard: It's a complete redesign that takes up 13 percent less space.

The Magic Keyboard is still full sized, along with full-sized function keys, and uses a new scissor mechanism that provides 33% more key stability.

The keyboard now sports a new, lower profile, and is built like a solid wedge. Apple says it's been engineered for comfort and precision, and the Lightning port is located on the rear edge—so even when you have to recharge, you never have to stop typing.

What about the Magic Mouse 2?

The new Magic Mouse 2 is lighter and sturdier than the original. It also has newly redesigned feet for a smoother, more precise glide. It doesn't offer Force Touch, but remains multitouch, so you can swipe with one or multiple fingers, click, or double-click.

The Lightning plug is on the bottom, but 2 minutes of charging will give you a typical 9 hour day of use, so you can quickly top up if you have to and then finish charging when you're done for the day.

Okay, I'm ready. Hit me with the Magic Trackpad 2!

Right?! Physically, the Magic Trackpad 2 still has a glass surface, but it's now 29 percent larger, and sports the same lower profile as the new Magic Keyboard. They pair exceptionally well together.

Internally, the new Magic Trackpad 2 is like the Force Touch trackpads that ship in the MacBook and MacBooks Pro. There are four force sensors in the trackpad that detect how hard you push and where, along with a Taptic Engine that provides tactile, haptic feedback—including the simulation of a click and deeper force click.

You've got all the multitouch gestures you expect, including tap, swipe, pinch, for single and multiple fingers. But you've now got the multidimensional Force Touch interactions as well.

What can I do with Force Touch on the Magic Trackpad 2?

Same kinds of things you can do with it on the MacBook or MacBooks Pro:

  • Force Click on a Dock icon to Expose the app's windows, a file icon to Quick Look it, or a file name to edit it.
  • Force Click on a word to look it up in Dictionary or Wikipedia, an address to get a Maps preview, or a location to drop a pin.
  • Force Click on a date to add it to Calendar, an event to see details, and an invitee to preview their contact card.
  • Force Click on a link to preview a website, an image or PDF to invoke Markup, or an iMessage conversation to see details.
  • Force Press in QuickTime to fast forward and rewind quicker.
  • Force Press in Maps to Zoom.

And a variety of apps will provide haptic feedback when you slide or rotate to certain points as well.

What does this Magic cost and when and where can I get some?

The new iMacs ship with the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2, and the Magic Trackpad 2 can be substituted instead (you simply pay the $50 difference). You can also buy them separately through Apple.com, Apple Retail, or authorized resellers.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

103 Comments
  • Does the new Magic Trackpad 2 with Force Touch work with older pre-force touch MacBooks? I don't see why it wouldn't, except to incentivize upgrades. Haven't seen it commented on, either way, anywhere.
  • Requires a Mac running El Capitan or newer and with built-in Bluetooth 4 support. Won't work on pre-BT4 Macs.
  • It should also Just Work with an MBP fitted with a BT4 LE dongle. I'll test that theory tomorrow with my 2009 MBP after I make a trip to the shop to buy the dongle. At $20, even if it doesn't work, it's not a huge loss; the Magic Keyboard WILL work with my Mid-2011 iMac running El Cap. Saying goodbye to (even rechargeable) batteries is going to be *sweet!*
  • I picked up an IOGEAR GBU521. To get it to work, I've read you need to download Apple's Bluetooth Explorer utility which comes bundled with their Hardware IO Tools for Xcode download. So far so good, except that the moment you switch to the new BT host controller you lose connectivity with your existing BT keyboard and trackpad, rendering your Mac inoperable. So apparently you need to have a wired trackpad or mouse to complete the installation.
  • You are WRONG in regards to the BT4.0. Although they say that, I have read online, and have now proven to myself, it WILL work on older Mac's. I have it running perfectly fine on my Late 2011 iMac 27inch i7, with Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. The trick is to plug it in first, have it pair, then when you unplug it, it's good to go and works just fine! I even called Apple to ask them about this, of course, they would NOT answer the question. But trust me, if you are looking to get this track pad 2 and you have an older mac, it WILL work at least going back to BT 2.1+EDR!
  • You're responding to a 3 week old comment. I've already noted that the new trackpad works with my 2009 iMac, which does not have BT 4.
  • It requires BT4 support but you might be able to use it with the included cable instead. Here's what Sixcolors said: "If you plug a Magic Trackpad 2 into a Mac via the included Lightning-to-USB cable, it works even if Bluetooth is off. I can’t confirm that it’ll work on older Macs via wired mode, but it might."
  • At this point it's a bit backwards to pay top dollar for a wireless trackpad that requires a wire.
  • It only requires a wire to charge it, which is ONCE A MONTH. ;)
  • I'm currently looking at suiting an office with 14 iMacs and I'm worried about paired wireless HIDs getting shifted around causing chaos. I'd go with only wired devices, but some people want wireless. Also if 14 people have Apple chargers plugged in, they only get one DSO each anyway... no free mains sockets. If these guys re-pair when plugged in without having to use various Vulcan grip techniques, great for sorting out keyboard chaos. If the devices turn their Bluetooth off when plugged in, even better as I'm worried about wireless contention and 2.4GHz WiFi with so many of them in the same spot.
  • Is the new keyboard backlit?
  • Sadly no...
  • They already killed the backlit keyboard and MagSafe connector on the new Macbook so I suspect they eventually plan to eliminate these across the board.
  • "They already killed the backlit keyboard and MagSafe connector on the new Macbook" There's no MagSafe connector because of USB-C, but the backlit keyboard is still there and is better now, with individually backlit keys. [ https://www.imore.com/e?link=https2F2Fc2F4... ]
  • According to Jason Snell's review at sixcolors.com, the keyboard does not have the same butterfly mechanisms as the MacBook keyboard. This is pretty surprising to me. It appears to be a modified scissor format that puts it somewhere between the old scissor and the butterfly. I wonder why they designed yet another style? Any ideas? Something really bothers me about having full size left and right arrows but half size up and down. My OCD really doesn't like it. Not sure the function keys needed to be full size either, but it doesn't bother me like the arrows. PS - Also, isn't Force Touch called 3D Touch now?
  • The main technology is called Force Touch. 3D Touch is a more advanced version of the pressure sensor tech which in in use in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The level of precision offered by the more advanced 3D Touch is pointless on Macs and Watches
  • I wouldn't say it's pointless. I can imagine many desktop applications where precision 3D Touch would be beneficial (graphics, video editing, musical instrumentation/mixing, etc.)
  • Functionally, ForceTouch on my MBP seems the same as 3D-Touch on my iPhone 6S+ in that there are 2 levels of 'force'. i.e. in QuickTime the first level of pressing the FF button speeds up media a little, pressing to the 2nd level speeds it up a lot.
  • Also, one of the only reasons you need a mouse nowadays is for text selection, which a 3D-touch trackpad would be able to accomplish, but a force-touch trackpad seemingly would not. A proper, precision, 3D-touch enabled trackpad *could* eliminate the need for a mouse. I don't think this one does though.
  • I have no difficulty doing text selection with a trackpad. It works with a click and drag or with a three finger drag. Most people who think a trackpad lags behind a mouse in usability have either never used an Apple trackpad or haven't invested the time to learn how to use it properly.
  • Well, based on your posts here I am certain that you think you are basically infallible so this does not surprise me. The fact is however that text selection is one of the hardest thins to do accurately with a track pad and one of the basic functions that keeps mice around for the majority of the buying public.
  • Once again, I have no difficulty with it and I don't consider myself to have a particular gift for manual dexterity. It's all a matter of learning how to make the most of its features and using it long enough to get the hang of it. I spent years using mice so I think I can speak with some authority on how the two devices compare. Anyone who has just tinkered with a trackpad a few times and given up is not in a position to critique its usability. Reminds me a lot of the old timers who made fun of the mouse, insisting that they could do everything better with a keyboard.
  • Yup, you're right. I only use my mouse when I'm playing a game or my hands are too sweaty (I live in India, so that's a legit problem.) I love the Apple Trackpad, and have never had any problems with it.
  • Wow they almost doubled the price of the track pad.
  • Lithium ion batteries and charging circuitry aren't free, nor is new technology like Force Touch.
  • Well of course but I don't see it being 100 percent more expensive either.
  • I wouldn't look at it in terms of percentages. The new trackpad costs $60 more than its predecessor. So the question you should ask yourself is whether its new features are worth an extra $60. The new trackpad comes with a built-in battery and integrated charging system. Note that Apple's price for a set of NiCad AA batteries and a wall charger is $30. You're now getting a much better and more expensive lithium ion battery and charging system. It also has the new Force Touch sensor along with its haptic feedback engine. And of course, It also has a new and larger design. All of these changes provide value as well as add costs for design, testing, manufacturing, and distribution. What would be Apple's incentive to develop all these innovations only to sell the resulting product at the same price as the old one which nobody was complaining about? The PC industry still hasn't caught up to the quality and performance of the old model so it's not as if competition forced their hand.
  • Defining the price difference as a 'pig' -- that pricing justification comment would be the definition of 'lipstick on a pig' ;-)
  • Who's forcing you to buy the pig? Folks wanting everything for "free" are probably better off sticking with Windows and Android.