Colemak is easy to learn!

If you touch-type QWERTY you already half-know Colemak.

Many of the keys stay the same, which means many of your shortcuts remain the same. On a Mac, these shortcuts are Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Bold, Minimize, Hide, Quit and Close.

The keys that do move don’t go far, usually one or two keys away. Mostly we’re trying to get the common letters on to the home row and move the uncommon ones away. Many keys that move stay on the same finger, or at least in the same hand. Only E and P swap hands. In Dvorak, 22 keys swap hands.

The punctuation keys don’t move, except for the colon/semicolon (no way that gets to stay on the home row!) In the Dvorak layout, all of these punctuation characters move: fullstop, comma, question mark, single quote, double quotes, square brackets, curly braces, angle brackets, dash, underscore, plus and equals. It’s a nightmare for programmers!

If you were to scratch off the keys that have moved, look how many you’d have to remove for Colemak compared to Dvorak:

Learning Colemak vs Dvorak keyboard layout

As if you didn’t know, QWERTY is inefficient. Dvorak is a lot better, but Colemak is by far the best. To prove this point, here is the heat map of typing this very blog post on QWERTY, Dvorak and Colemak:

Why Colemak is best

Row usage compared between QWERTY, Dvorak and Colemak

There are other reasons here to explain why Colemak is easy to learn.

With the holidays coming up, do your future self a favour and learn Colemak!

Update: so you’ve decided you want to learn Colemak and want to know how to go about it? AWESOME! I have just the post for you: How to learn Colemak.

15 comments on “Colemak is easy to learn!

    • yeah, you should! there’s a few weeks of frustration when you have to retrain your brain, but Colemak soon feels very comfortable and efficient.

  1. How do you feel about switching between Colemak and Qwerty? I’ve used Dvorak for several years, and its few keys in common with Qwerty helps keep me from blurring them. I take a couple seconds to switch mentally, then it’s a non-issue. I don’t mix them up.

    I suspect it also helped me to start from scratch while learning, but I can’t compare it to learning Colemak.

    • unfortunately i can only seem to hold one keyboard layout in my head at a time. i am terrible at QWERTY, total hunt-and-peck. i also lost all my Dvorak skill after about 2 weeks of starting Colemak, it was quite disconcerting.

      i think you make a good point about the possibility that Colemak is harder to learn because it’s too similar to QWERTY. going from Dvorak to Colemak, i had the feeling that i was returning to some long-lost familiarity.

  2. I’m thinking of purchasing a water resistant keyboard (mine tend to get dirty working in our high school’s basement).

    I have a Microsoft keyboard that is water resistant, but its response is not very fast, and I often mis-type my password.

    What kind of keyboard do you own? Does your keyboard have a distinctive click feel and/or click sound?

    Have you typed on a water-resistant keyboard, like at ?


    • I’ve not tried a water resistant keyboard, but the typematrix with a skin is definitely coffee-spillage-resistant … and yes, i’ve verified that! ;)

      i couldn’t stand a slow response keyboard, that would be very disconcerting.

      the typematrix are very soft feel, you don’t have to move your fingers much to press the keys, but it’s very satisfying in that you know you’ve pressed it. there is no click though, if you like that sort of thing you don’t want a typematrix.

      other than that i really just use the apple keyboard on the macbook air (and i love it!) and a bluetooth apple keyboard. that is actually my keyboard of preference; i only use the typematrix when i’m pair programming, as it has the colemak option hard wired into the keyboard.

      • You are very helpful. I was looking for another brand to view. I’ll go off and find it. Many thanks.

      • my pleasure. thank you for poking me on twitter. i had a bit of an email overflow (back under control now!) which is how i must have missed your comment.

        i should let you know that at least ten people have bought a typematrix keyboard after trying mine, or after a recommendation from me! sadly they’ve not paid me any commission as yet! they are also busy printing a colemak skin, but i don’t know when that will be ready.

      • I’m going to ask for one for my birthday, which is a few months away. I’ll make sure you get credit.

    • This message is TOTAL SPAM. You should delete it from your blog. They are just using you for a link to their product site. Water resistant keyboards have nothing to do with your post!

      • actually, James, you’re the one who sounds more like a spammer. Octopusgrabbus is a friend of mine, genuinely interested in finding the right keyboard.

  3. Found this post through Google Images.
    Was setting up a wireless keyboard for the PC unto a Android phone via OTG and saw a popup asking what kind of keyboard is being added. Thanks to your post, I 100% it is QWERTY and I can go ahear and use the US version.

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