Create Your Own Dvorak Keyboard

Have you ever wondered why the keyboard you are using right now has the characters laid out in that particular order? The standard keyboard layout is called the Qwerty layout, and was designed around 1875. But what if you wanted to try a more efficient layout? The Dvorak keyboard layout was invented just for that reason.

Instead of buying a new keyboard to try out this newer layout, why not just hack an old keyboard so that they keys use the Dvorak layout?

BiOzZ, an intrepid user over at the Hack a day forums, has disassembled an old Kensington keyboard, washed the parts, and then re-assembled it using the new key mappings.

Everything was relatively easy to change over, with the exception that some of the keys had backwards connections that required a 90 degree change to the orientation of the key. With a little correction using a label maker, they keys are now very usable.

The final step is telling your OS to use the Dvorak layout rather than the standard Qwerty layout that you are using right now.

Have you attempted to make the change to a Dvorak keyboard layout? Let us know how it went in the comments.

Qwerty to Dvorak Keyboard Conversion via Hack a day Forums


    I considered learning a Dvorak keyboard before, but the unfortunate reality of it, is while its a more efficient and better thought out keyboard layout, its minority in use means that there's no easy way to adopt it.

    I use at least 3 keyboards on a regular basis (my work PC, my laptop, and my office desk at home). Its not going to be easy to modify the keyboard on my laptop, and in order to change my keyboard at work, I'd need to supply my own keyboard as work wouldn't appreciate me hacking theirs.

    Plus, it would also mean that anybody else who uses my hardware would have a hard time trying to type on a foreign keyboard.

    Finally, and perhaps the biggest prohibitive factor, is that I don't think I would be able to memorize key positions on BOTH qwerty and dvorak keyboards to be able to switch between the two - which means I'd have a hard time in using other peoples PCs or my smart-phone, which uses a qwerty layout.

      I Agree with you, It is too difficult to change from the worst layout to the best when most devices you encounter have QWERTY.

      dose the iPhone have a DVORAK OSK option?

      DVORAK efficiency is probably mute with non-touch typing interfaces. In this respect QWERTY may be better on small touch screens because of the swipe feature. Doing this on a DVORAK layout would be difficult because all the points will be very close together.

      Another reason for AGAINST DVORAK is that the default short cut keys (i.e. undo, cut, copy & paste) are then moved to the new location of the letters which are no longer near each other, so now you also need to remember which letter is for what, rather then undo first, then cut is next to copy which is next to paste and all on the bottom line. (i.e. Z,X,C,V)

      I made the switch to dvorak a while ago. It took me a bit to memorise the keys in the dvorak layout but it has more than paid off in typing speed.

      Personally I didn't "hack" the keyboard as it would force me to memorise the keys, and improving my speed again as I wouldn't be tempted to look at the keys and type slower. This also has a second benefit that if needed I can go back to QWERTY for gaming as it is really awkward using the dvorak layout and having to remap all the keys all the time.

    I type using this layout - have for many years. I decided it was time to teach myself to touch type and being an engineer researched the most efficient way and learnt Dvorak.
    I carry Dvorak Assistant on a usb key to easily convert non believers PCs when I need to; I'm at the point where I don't look at the keys so only a remap is required and away I go (even if the labels are qwerty).

    Save yourself the hacking part and use keyboard stickers.

    I definitely encourage dvorak use. I started by using modified hardware, but given that touch-typing should be your goal, you could also just print out a copy of the layout and keep it handy.

    Nowadays I do all of my typing on physical qwerty keyboards, but the OS and my mind recognise it as dvorak.

    Cognitively, I can also type QWERTY and this is no surprise - it's basically like knowing two languages, your brain can effectively separate them.

    Dvorak groups commonly used letters to encourage as little movement as possible. I decided using QWERTY was obsolete and reorganised my keys. While it promotes faster touch typing, I found the repositioning of keyboard shortcut keys to be unworkable (I'm a designer, not a typist) and was forced to switch back.

    QWERTY was developed to stop typewriter keys from jamming (not to deliberately slow typists as some believe). It's layout is such that words are typed with two hands, often alternating from left to right. Its persistence in the digital age was inefficient but widespread adoption made it the standard.
    As many smart phones are designed to be typed with two thumbs it is actually now more relevant!

    Been using Dvorak for about two weeks now, so glad I made the switch. It still feels a little alien to me sometimes, but overall it was a great decision. It takes a couple of weeks to get fairly confident with typing with it, but I'd recommend anyone to try it out.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now