QWERTY vs Dvorak vs. Colemak Keyboard Layouts

QWERTY vs Dvorak vs. Colemak Keyboard Layouts

Have you ever thought about why the letters on your keyboard are arranged the way they are? Well, There are different keyboard layouts, each claiming to be the most efficient and comfortable. Let's explore the realm of alternative keyboard layouts- QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak, in particular that have been the topic of debate for years.

1. QWERTY Keyboard Layout

The first typing layout, QWERTY, was created by Christopher Latham Sholes in the 1870s. Back then, typewriters were the cool gadgets for writing, but they had a problem – they jammed too much when people typed too fast. Shoals had a great plan to fix this. He made the layout slow and not very efficient on purpose so that the typewriters would not jam if people typed too fast. 

If you look at your keyboard, you'll notice that the home row in the QWERTY layout contains the letters A, S, D, F, J, K, L, and a colon/semicolon. Sholes intentionally put vowels and other common letters far away from each other by placing only a few of the most used letters on the home row.

QWERTY Keyboard Layout

One of the things that makes QWERTY so popular is its familiarity. Most people are used to typing on a QWERTY keyboard because it's the standard layout for most computers. That means if you're already comfortable with QWERTY, there's no need to switch!

But there are some downsides to QWERTY, too. Some say it could be more efficient because the most commonly used letters are spread over the keyboard. It makes typing slower and more tiring, primarily if you must type for long periods.

2. Dvorak Keyboard Layout

In the 1930s, Dr. August Dvorak came up with a new way to arrange the keys on a keyboard. He called it the Dvorak layout. Dr. Dvorak wanted to make typing faster and easier. So, he placed the most common letters on the home row, where our fingers naturally rest when we're not typing.

The Dvorak layout puts important letters like A, O, E, U, H, T, N, and S on the home row, making it easy to reach. The only exception was the letter U, which got a different spot. The cool thing is that Dr. Dvorak thought about which fingers are the longest and put the most used letters, E and T, right under those middle fingers.

He even took care of punctuation. It's just above the left-hand's home row, making it easier for those who use the Dvorak layout.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Dvorak keyboard is smartly designed, putting 70% of English typing on the home row, unlike Qwerty's 32%. It makes Dvorak easier and faster and reduces the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Although no official studies confirm this, many people share positive experiences, suggesting Dvorak's ergonomic design may help prevent repetitive motion injuries.

If you want to try it, setting up your computer for a Dvorak layout is easy. You need to tweak some settings. But remember, the keys on your physical Keychron Keyboard will still be in the old QWERTY order. So, if you want to get fancy and change the physical keycaps, you'll need a keycap puller and patience.

Learning Dvorak might take some time – we're talking months. But it could be worth it if you're up for a challenge and want to type with less effort in the long run. Just stick with it, and you might become a super accurate typist!

3. Colemak Keyboard Layout

The Colemak keyboard layout is like a newer, upgraded version of the Dvorak layout. It was created in 2006 by Shai Coleman. The idea behind Colemak was to improve upon Dvorak and make typing faster and more efficient.

Let's talk about the changes: the O (4th) becomes R (9th), E (1st) turns into S (7th), and U (13th) switches places with T from the right hand (2nd). On the right side, H (8th) is replaced by N (6th), T (2nd) becomes E (1st), N (6th) changes to I (5th), and S becomes O (4th).

The unique thing about Colemak is that the letter I now hang out in the home row makes typing a breeze. The punctuation keys stay in the same places as QWERTY, except for the colon/semicolon key, which moves above the home row.

Colemak Keyboard Layout

If you're considering switching from QWERTY to something new, Colemak might be a good choice. It's easier because fewer keys change compared to Dvorak.

But here's the catch: changing to Colemak on a Mac is similar to switching to Dvorak. However, on a Windows PC, it's a bit trickier. There's no easy way to reconfigure your keyboard, so only a few people use Colemak on Windows. But don't worry! Even though it might be challenging, Colemak.com has a unique program for Windows users.

One of the advantages of Colemak is that it has gained popularity in the gaming community, where quick and precise key presses can make all the difference. Gamers appreciate the layout's focus on optimizing finger movement, helping them gain an edge in competitive play.

Which layout should you choose?

The best keyboard layout is a personal preference. It's like choosing between sneakers, loafers, or sandals – it depends on your style, comfort, and willingness to walk down the path of change. Whether you stick with the classic and widely used QWERTY keyboard layout, take a leap of faith with Dvorak, or find a middle ground with Colemak, the most important thing is to enjoy the typing journey. After all, it's not just about the keys; it's about the words they help you create.

Discover premium mechanical, custom, and wireless keyboards at Keychron. Elevate your typing experience with high-quality keyboards designed for Mac, Windows, iPhone, and Android. Upgrade your workspace with Keychron Keyboards today.

Back to blog