UPDATE: I seem to somehow removed step four while editing.
A few years ago (3 I think) I switched to dvorak. There are a lot of sites out there that will explain why dvorak is better than qwerty so I would like to focus on how to switched to dvorak and the problems you may experience if you do. But of course I can’t write a post on dvorak with you a little discussion on why it is better.
The first thing you will notice about dvorak after using it for a while is that you don’t have to move your hands as much. you will be able to type a lot of what you want to type without ever leaving the home row or only leaving it a few times. Bulhing on that there is another thing that you may not notice for a while (unless you already know about it); Dvorak is designed to alternate which hand you are typing with. So most of the time when you type a letter with one hand you will type the next with the other. I said this was building on not having to leave the home as often so you may be wondering how the two are connected. Well, here is how: when you have to move off of the home row to type a character the next key you have to hit will be on the other side of the keyboard. This means you won’t have to twist your hands in strange uncomfortable ways. There we have hit on the real benefit of dvorak it is more uncomfortable. If you do a lot of coding you will love dovark. All of those keys like / and aren’t shoved down in the corner or other strange uncomfortable places anymore! I know I said I would keep that short but I couldn’t help myself.
so now to the important part. How to join the cool crowd erm I mean switch to dvorak.
Step 1: change your layout in your os of choice and rearrange the keys on your keyboard
note:in case you didn’t you can pry of the keys with a screw driver and but them back on where they belong(in the dvorak layout that is). It won’t hurt your keyboard if you aren’t stupid about it.
Step 2: If you can help it use only dvorak. At first you will have difficulty typing because you don’t know where the keys are! thats why you changed the physical location of the keys on your keyboard in the last step. Give this step some time (maybe 2-4 weeks) you will get the hang of it eventually.
Step 3: Change the physical location of the keys on your keyboard back to qwerty, but keep your os set to dvorak. So you think after almost a month of using dvorak you know where the key are? can you do it with out the possibility of looking? 😉 This actually has some very practical reasons beyond forcing you to touch type (if you are a computer n00b and don’t know proper typing, whether you do it or not, this may not work for you). Keyboard keys are normally varied in height by what row they are on. When you move around the keys there heights will get all screwed up. If you ever have to use qwerty again it may be helpful to have it on your keyboard(you will probably forget how to type on qwerty after a while). If someone else wants to use your computer that doesn’t know dvorak and can’t touch type with qwerty they will need to see qwerty on the keyboard. As an alternative to this step you could get a keyboard without any characters on it(I want one) or if you really want to spend a lot of money you could get an led keyboard(I also want one of these) if they ever come out.
Step 4: Brag to your friends that you use dvorak and give them a link to this post so they can increase my views *cough* I mean switched to dvorak as well.
If you aren’t a great typer on qwerty your typing will probably improve with dvorak just because you are learning to type the right way. Some people say that once they switch to dvorak they can type faster. This may be true if you type slowly with qwerty but for everyone I know typing speeds did not significantly improve.
For more on dvorak check out Wikipedia’s article
I hope this helps.