Whether you plan to use the TKO for work or play (or both), this guide will help you get up and running fast.

What's in the Box

TKO Barebones Keyboard

Detachable USB-C Cable

Quick Start Guide

Install Switches

Purchase any 3 or 5 pin MX-style switch. You’ll need 61 switches for the conventional layout. If you want to use the HyperSpace triple space bar you’ll need 2 additional switches and 2 plate-mount style stabilizers to substitute for the full-size space bar. Before installing a switch, check to confirm the 2 metal “pins” are straight. Position the switch with the pins at the south edge of each hole, and gently push it straight down. It should click into place with a modest amount of force. If you have to press really hard, the switch is likely misaligned and forcing it in will likely damage the board and void your warranty.

Install Keycaps

Purchase any MX style keycap. The TKO uses a standard 60% layout so any 3rd party MX-style keycap set will work. Look for sets that use a 6.25u space bar and the seven 1.25u bottom row keys. If you want the keys to illuminate, look for “shine-through” style. The HyperSpace keys are 2.25u, 1.75u, and 2.25u respectively so you can look for a kit that includes extra keycaps in those sizes, or buy them separately.

SmartSet Key

The SmartSet Key is in the bottom row on the right side second from the right. It doesn’t do anything by itself, but it is used in conjunction with Right Shift and other keys (some legended and some not legended) for onboard programming. When using the SmartSet Key, hold it down first, then hold Right Shift, and then tap the desired shortcut key. This key is the only one on the board that is not reprogrammable so install a special keycap for easy reference.

See the User’s Manual for a list of onboard shortcuts.

Your new TKO keyboard is 100% plug-and-play

Simply connect the USB cable to any available full-size port on your Windows, Mac, Linux, or Chrome PC. Your computer will automatically recognize and “install” the keyboard in a matter of seconds.

*For best results, connect the keyboard directly to your PC rather than through a hub, dock, or KVM switch.

Changing Profiles & Lighting

The TKO has 9 customizable Profiles each with its own unique lighting scheme. Profile 1 is the default but you can use the shortcut SmartSet + Right Shift + 2-9 to jump to any of the other 8 Profiles.

Program Lock

To prevent accidental programming, each TKO keyboard is locked from the factory. Use the Unlock shortcut (SmartSet + Right Shift + X) to enable all of the powerful onboard programming tools and to open the v-Drive for SmartSet App access.

Update Firmware

Macro users will want to install the latest firmware for full functionality. Download the latest firmware here.

Kinesis will periodically publish firmware updates for the TKO. Open a text window and run a Status Report (SmartSet + Right Shift + Z) to show keyboard settings or use the SmartSet App to check to see if an update is available.

Tenting and Tilting

Left Hand Tenting

Most gamers user their left hand on the keyboard and their right hand on the mouse. To enjoy the enhanced comfort and stamina associated with tenting, flip over the TKO and pop out the two BIG legs on the RIGHT side of the keyboard to elevate your left thumb.

Right Hand Tenting

If you play with your right hand on the keyboard and left hand on the mouse, you’ll need to reverse the tenting. Flip over the TKO and pop out the two BIG legs on the LEFT side of the keyboard to elevate your right thumb.

Positive Tilt

Most keyboards feature a 5 degree positive tilt. The TKO was designed to have a zero degree slope to eliminate harmful wrist extension. To achieve the familiar positive tilt feel, pop out the two SMALL legs on the back edge of the keyboard.

Negative Tilt

If the TKO’s natural zero-degree slope doesn’t go far enough, you can achieve 5 degrees of negative tilt by To achieve the familiar positive tilt typing feel, pop out the two SMALL legs on the back edge of the keyboard. Note: Tilting with the BIG legs is not recommended.

Default Layout

Starting to Type

Thanks to its conventional 60% layout, the TKO is easy to adapt to and does not require “re-learning” to type. Most new users are up to full-speed in a matter of days, if not sooner. If this is your first time using a 60% keyboard, you may need to practice using the Fn key to access the embedded key actions.

Starting to Play

You can certainly use the TKO as a conventional gaming keyboard, but what sets it apart from those basic keyboards is the tenting feature. Unlike conventional keyboards, you can use the big legs on the TKO to create 5 degrees of elevation for the thumb side of your hand to reduce strain and increase stamina.

Just remember not to type with both hands on the keyboard when the tenting legs are engaged.


The all-new RGB SmartSet App offers a GUI alternative to onboard programming your TKO keyboard for Windows & Mac. Download the App, connect the v-Drive to your PC (SmartSet + Right Shift + V), and then run the App straight from your PC (no installation necessary).

The App doesn’t update in real-time so to preview your changes save the Profile in the App and then use the Refresh shortcut (SmartSet + Right Shift + B). When you are done configuring, simply disconnect the v-Drive so the keyboard can resume normal operating mode.

Download the SmartSet App 3.0

Lighting Effects

  • Freestyle
  • Monochrome
  • Wave
  • Spectrum
  • Breathe
  • Rain
  • Reactive
  • Loop
  • Starlight
  • Pulse
  • Rebound

Use the Freestyle or Breathe effects to assign custom color values to individual keys. Or choose one of the animated effects and select colors, speeds, and directions to create a custom look.

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