Alternate Keyboard Layouts

3 09 2009

The standard keyboard layout of your computer is called QWERTY. It was invented in the early 1870s to SLOW down your typing – because of the key jamming associated mechanical keyboards of that era.  Unfortunately, modern society has been cursed with this layout.  Are there some better layouts? Yes.

The most famous alternate keyboard is Dvorak, so named after its inventor August Dvorak.  It attempts to optimize the layout by:

  • Placing most frequently used letters on the home row
  • Make letters alternate between hands.
  • Make the right hand do more work than the left.

After almost 30 years of typing on a QWERTY keyboard, I can do about 120 wpm (with errors) and about 90 wpm error-free.  However I find that lately my fingers get tired more easily.  That was when I decided to try learning Dvorak.  So far after 3 days I’ve made pretty good progress: 30 wpm and a lot less hand fatigue.  On average, your fingers travel less than half the distance than on QWERTY.

There’s another alternate keyboard layout that is worth mentioning – Colemak.  Dvorak’s layout isn’t perfect.  The problem I’ve noticed is with Control-X, C, and V. Colemak fixes it and makes a great change – Caps Lock is changed a Backspace.  Colemak is also less radical than Dvorak by making the layout closer to that of QWERTY ( less learning ) and yet giving the same benefits as Dvorak.

The real problem is support.  You can change your keyboard to a Dvorak layout in software for Windows since Win 95.  However Colemak isn’t supported at all – you need to use a software remapping program.  I prefer to have the software changed in the operating system.

QWERTY is obviously the most popular.  Dvorak and Colemak are a distant 2nd and 3rd, respectively.  Either change I believe is well worth it – greater productivity and less fatigue.



53 responses to “Alternate Keyboard Layouts”

5 02 2015
george :


ñïñ çà èíôó!…

5 02 2015
Joshua :


thank you….

7 02 2015
jim :



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