Most self-respecting keyboards available today come with lit keys. As night owls know, lit keys are a must for when you're hunting a particular key in the night, with your monitor the sole source of light. The best of them come with customizable RGB lighting. You can even assign a different color to every single key.
Such customizability might seem like a gimmick until you look at the specialized keyboard models that professionals use when editing media, controlling light fixtures, etc. In such cases, different colors mark each key's functionality, which makes this "gimmick" a handy way to find the right keys on short notice.
So, borrowing that idea, let's see how you can assign different colors on groups of keys, creating custom color maps on a modern keyboard.
How to Customize Colors on (Almost) Every Logitech Keyboard
We will use Logitech's popular G 512 keyboard and its official software for this article. Logitech is the mastermind behind some of the most popular keyboards on the planet. That was the reason we wrote a guide on the best Logitech keyboards worth your money.
Thankfully, they all use the same unified piece of software, called G-Hub. Thus, what we'll see next should work on all of Logitech's keyboards-with-RGB-lighting that are supported by its G-Hub software.
If you have a keyboard from another brand, you can follow along to see how you can customize it. However, you'll have to improvise for each step, since the software you will be using may work differently.
Getting Started With Presets, Freestyle Designs, and Animations
Since you are already using your keyboard, you probably already have its software installed, which you can use to customize its lighting. If you don't, you can head over to the G-Hub website and download it from there.
Once it's installed and running, open the software's main window. Click on the photo of your keyboard to customize it.
You can choose from three different types of color customization:
Presets and Animations offer pre-defined color maps and animated effects you can apply to your keyboard. Feel free to take a look at the options available here and pick out the ones that strike your fancy.
However, to customize the key colors as you wish, skip both and head to Freestyle.
Making Your Keyboard Yours With Freestyle
Freestyle is the equivalent of Paint for your keyboard. In this mode, you can "paint" freely on your keyboard's keys with any color you fancy. There are a handful of tools you can use to get the job done, so let's take a closer look at each.
Colors on Device
Under Colors on device, on the left of the window, you will initially see a single group of keys with a unified color. As you apply more colors to your keys, this group will split into subgroups based on the colors you use.
This list isn't only for reference, however. You can use this feature to select groups of keys based on their color.
The Color Brush is the primary tool for assigning a new color to one or more keys.
You can freely choose any color you want using its palette or go for the swatches beneath it. Click on the last "empty" swatch with the plus icon to add a color you selected from the palette as a new swatch.
Click on the keys where you want to apply the color you selected.
Instead of going over each key individually, you can change the color of groups of keys by dragging a rectangle over them. Note that this rectangle doesn't have to contain, but merely "touch" the keys to change their color.
Key Groups & Quick Color
You don't have to paint a color on each key individually or rely on a crude rectangle for their selection. You can also use the entries under Quick Color, hovering under the keyboard preview.
The entries are:
- F KEYS
- ARROW KEYS
Click on them to apply the selected color to each of those groups of keys. Note that those are there to assist with the quick selection of key groups. You can still change the color of the keys either individually or with the rectangular selection tool.
Save Your Style
When you are happy with your keyboard's lighting, save your tweaks. Did you notice the pull-down menu under Effect? Expand it, and select Add New Freestyle. Type a name for your lightmap, press enter, and hey presto: it's saved.
You can create over one light color map, save them for future use, and switch between them from that menu. However, it's even better if you automate the process, assigning color lightmaps to your favorite applications and games.
Create App Profiles
Popular keyboard manufacturers, like Logitech and Razer, have given their software the ability to swap profiles on the fly depending on the active application. This enables you to create different light color maps for your favorite games and applications. However, the process for doing that this somewhat convoluted—at least, with Logitech's software, which we are using for this article.
To create a custom profile for an application or game, click on the active profile's name at the top center of the window.
Click on the empty Add Game or Application option, which appears as the first entry in the list of thumbnails under Games & Applications. Then, choose the executable file of the game or application for which you want to create a profile.
With your newly added app or game selected, click on Add profile for the selected app, under Profiles.
Type a name for your new profile, and press Enter to create it. Then, click on your new custom profile to select and activate it.
You'll find yourself back at Logitech software's starting screen. This time, though, if you look at the top of the window, you'll see that your new profile is active. As before, click on your keyboard to customize it.
Use the methods we saw before to assign different colors to the keys that perform an action in your selected application or game.
Repeat that process to create more custom lighting profiles that will be automatically applied on your keyboard when you run your favorite applications or games.
How to Get More Presets
Do you like the idea of your keyboard being customizable but don't want to invest the time to do it yourself? Check out the lighting effects and gaming profiles available for download.
You can access them from the entries at the bottom left and bottom center of the software's window.
If you see one that you would like to try out, select it, and when its details show up, click on DOWNLOAD at the bottom of the window.
Notice that your download will not be automatically activated. Go back to the software's profiles or lighting customization sections, and select and apply it from there.
Logitech also offers lots of mice for every need and use. If you're interested in picking one up, we've already covered what we believe are the best Logitech mice for gaming. If you're already using one, you can use the same software we saw here to customize its lighting with similar colors. This way it won't look out of place next to your custom-lit keyboard.
Giving Your Logitech Keyboards a Fresh Lick of (Digital) Paint
Admittedly, the ability to customize your keyboard's lighting isn't necessary and shouldn't be your priority when choosing a new keyboard.
However, as we saw, it's not only nice to have, but can also be quite helpful. Having custom profiles applied automatically on your keyboard can make it feel like an extension of the application or game on your screen.
Use them, and you'll never have to deal with that feeling of emptiness after mistakingly pressing the F-key for Quick Load instead of Quick Save.