How to Learn to Touch Type as an Adult

How to Learn to Touch Type as an Adult
Stop peeking! (Photo: Bangkok Click Studio, Shutterstock)

Maybe you weren’t required to sit through endless hours of middle school typing class, like I was. Or maybe you were, but you opted to write notes to your friends rather than play the part of diligent student. Either way, if you’re now a grown adult who has been hunting and pecking at your keys for decades now, perhaps you’d finally like to buckle down and learn how to type by touch.

If so, we have a few suggestions for how to get started on your journey.

Choose an online program

You might be able to find a local typing class in your area or hire a tutor to work with you, but really, a basic online program is all you need to learn proper finger placement and gain access to exercises for practice. Typing Club is a solid choice if you’re not sure where to begin because you can check it out and start typing right away without even setting up an account.

Users can take a free “placement test” so the site can determine where you need to begin. Depending on what you score on the placement test, the results will “open” a variety of lessons for you based on your specific areas of needed improvement. The lessons are quick but offer repetition to help your fingers build muscle memory for each key. You’ll get a report that details your accuracy and speed with each lesson. If your score could use improving, you’ll be prompted to try it again; if you did well, they’ll send you along to the next lesson. The goal they suggest aiming for is receiving a five-star rating on 10 lessons each day.

Some of the lessons are in a straightforward style of typing what you see, and others are in cute video game formats — plus, you can earn badges, which is a nice, encouraging touch. There are also additional video tutorials woven in to explain certain concepts, followed up by lessons that reinforce them. And you can track your speed to compare your progress over time.

The basic Typing Club lessons are free, but you can upgrade to a premium membership, which is ad-free and offers more features. And of course, there are plenty of other free online programs out there that you can check out, including Typing.com, LearnTyping.org, and How-To-Type.com. (Once you’ve got the basics down, you can head to Keybr.com to increase your speed.)

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Try the sticker trick

As much as you might not want to glance down at those fingers as you go, that’s going to be a hard habit to break. You might have to force yourself by taking away the option entirely. Paul Beaudet offers this idea on Quora:

The best / cheapest thing you can do is put stickers on of your keys so that you can’t see them. Print an image of your keyboard layout to tape on the top of your monitor or even better use a software that displays your keyboard layout and keys you are pressing close to where you need to look and focus on typing.

The trick is if you look at the keys at all you will never build the muscle memory you need to actually type efficiently. I learned by switching to a different keyboard layout (dvorak). This forced me to not look at the keys and after many years of slow typing speed I started to improve rapidly.

Practice, practice, practice

It may seem obvious, but to break the habit of looking at your fingers, you’re mainly going to need a whole bunch of repetition to help your fingers build muscle memory. Frequency is key here. Longer, infrequent practice sessions will be less effective than shorter, more frequent sessions — so aim to practice even just for 15 minutes a day until you start to feel it coming more naturally.

In case you’re not already preoccupied thinking about every move your fingers are making, you should also do your best to maintain good posture to avoid adding neck or back pain into the equation.

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