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QWERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, and Colemak DH: Which Keyboard Layout is the King of Keys?

Do you want to type faster and more efficiently? Then choosing the right keyboard layout is essential! Three of the most well-known keyboard layouts are QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak. But, have you ever heard of Colemak DH? In this article, let’s decipher the keyboard typing code and discover the best keyboard layout for you!

QWERTY: The Classic Typewriter Layout


Nowadays, it’s hard to find a computer without a QWERTY keyboard. But, it’s time to debunk the myth that QWERTY was created to slow down typists – it was actually intended to help them. The original intention of QWERTY was to arrange the letters to reduce the mechanical jams of the early typewriters from the 1870s. Not only that, but the QWERTY also helps prevent typists from hitting two keys at the same time.

However, even with its historical importance, the QWERTY layout is outdated and not optimized for efficiency. The most commonly used letters are not placed in the home row, which leads to more finger movement, thus slower and more uncomfortable typing experience.

I’ve used this keyboard layout my whole life, even now. I’ve been looking for an alternative I can be comfortable with, especially when doing some coding work, and this is where I came across Dvorak.

Dvorak: The Contender

Dvorak Layout

The Dvorak keyboard layout is not as well-known as QWERTY, but it was created with optimization in mind. The inventor, August Dvorak, discovered that only 32% of the typing is done on the home row of QWERTY, which led to the innovation of the Dvorak keyboard layout with the most common letters placed in the home row.

It seems like Dvorak is the king of optimizing the typing speed, but one crucial factor is keeping QWERTY from disappearing altogether – QWERTY is familiar, and it’s hard for most of us to get out of our comfort zones.

Another issue is the Copy and Paste ability, especially using my left hand on the keyboard and mouse on the other. Hard to do with Dvorak. We will keep to move our right hand over the keyboard and mouse, back and forth.

And I got to the point where I gave up and went back to QWERTY. Although I’ve used Dvorak for years, I can’t remember but I think it’s been over 8 years. While several articles advised me to use QWERTY-Dvorak, which will basically change the keyboard layout temporarily back to QWERTY when the Command [⌘] key is pressed, but it doesn’t work for me.

Colemak: The Strategist

Colemak Layout

Next up is Colemak designed by Shai Coleman, which was meant to be more efficient than both QWERTY and Dvorak while still keeping the familiar layout of QWERTY. Colemak rearranges the layout to put the most used keys, A, R, S, T, N, E, and I, in the home row for better speed optimization.

With Colemak, you can reduce finger fatigue and switch to an ergonomic and user-centric keyboard layout while being familiar with the location of the number and symbol keys. But I kept coming back to QWERTY and Dvorak while learned a new keyboard layout called Workman.

Workman: The New Kid in Town

Workman Layout

A new keyboard layout was introduced in 2010 by OJ Bucao. It’s another variation of the QWERTY layout and aims to provide a more comfortable typing experience. The Workman layout redistributes letters so that the most frequently used keys are placed in the middle row compared to the home row in Dvorak and Colemak. Workman also aims to reduce finger movement and strain, making it a great choice for typists who suffer from fatigue, discomfort, or various health conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Workman is great, but not supported by Operating Systems by default. You won’t find it on macOS without installing it first. And as you may have guessed, I’m back at Colemak again, and this time for a very long time.

Colemak DH: The Champion

Colemak DH
Colemak DH Layout

Finally, Colemak DH takes optimization one step further. Colemak DH is a variant of Colemak designed by DreymaR for a more efficient keyboard layout. Colemak DH rearranges some keys on the Colemak layout to reduce lateral hand movement and optimize each finger’s travel path.

If you want to hit the typing efficiency jackpot, Colemak DH should be your ultimate choice. The numbers and symbols are all located at the same place as the QWERTY layout. So, it’s easy to switch between the two with minimal discomfort.

Although Colemak DH is also not supported by Operating Systems by default, I still use it with my Corne 3×5 keyboard (I’ll share it in another post). And If you want to give it a try, I’ve created a repository for it, so you can easily download and start using it. Check it here!

Conclusion: Win the Keyboard Game

In conclusion, choosing the right keyboard layout will optimize your typing speed and reduce fatigue. QWERTY has many barriers, yet it’s still the standard layout that most of us use to this day. However, if you’re willing to invest your time and effort into a more ergonomic, user-centric, and efficient keyboard layout, Dvorak, Colemak or Colemak DH will change your typing game better than QWERTY.

Whether you choose the well-known Dvorak or the newer Colemak and Colemak DH, remember that the most crucial factor is to be comfortable while typing to avoid discomfort and strain on your fingers.

May the best be with us!!

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