Dvorak, revisited

A bit over a year ago, I wrote a little about using Dvorak, and how I came to switch, my recommendations for how to make the transition, and so on. The past few days, for whatever reason, I’ve had in my head the thought that I need to make a post on using Dvorak. I think partly it’s because so few people know what it is.

This is a Dvorak layout:

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 1.59.10 PM
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=874943

It looks uneven, if you’re used to looking at how centered QWERTY feels. But it’s a better distribution of keys.

I have a keyboard cover that is Dvorak, but I was already proficient when I got it, so I don’t use it for my keyboard (although I would sometimes use it to see where a key should be, for typing in long, complex passwords, for example), and my computer keyboard layout looks like this:


At an event in Portland last summer, we were doing a workshop where people split up into groups and used Slack to communicate specific things to each other. I was sitting next to a woman in my group who didn’t have her computer with her, so I slid my computer over to her, and within about 3 seconds she looked at me in a panic and whispered “I think I broke your computer.” Switching between keyboard layouts is super easy on the MacBook – it’s just ⌘ + space. It’s so easy to switch, that my children and cat routinely switch my keyboard for me while I’m working.

I’m always excited when people want to try a new keyboard layout. I know that I’ve benefited from it – my hands don’t hurt after a long day of typing – and I like to see others shake up their basic habits. It’s a small thing, in the grand scheme of things. Your keyboard layout choice isn’t going to be the defining thing about you, ever. But it’s something that you can challenge about your every day habits. It can be the starting point to rethink other habits. At Automattic, we have nearly 30 people who use Dvorak, and just a handful fewer who use Colemak.

Although, truthfully, in the future, we’ll all be typing in emoji, anyway. On a recent flight with the kids, Henry wanted to type on my phone, so he created a Simplenote that is as follows:

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 2.10.15 PM.png
Courtesy Henry R. Ring, age 6

If you’re not draw-searching your emojis, are you even really living?


So, I still advocate switching. I think it’s a great challenge, and it gives you a chance to evaluate habits. But don’t forget them emoji 🙌🏻

PS – Do you know how to use emoji on a computer? On a MacBook, hold down control + ⌘ + space, then let go. An emoji picker will appear.

2 responses to “Dvorak, revisited”

  1. I didn’t know about control + ⌘ + space! That’s life changing. 💖

    I disabled the ⌘ + space switcher (it’s in the prefs… Keyboard → Shortcuts → Input Sources) too for just the same reason.

    Liked by 2 people

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