Colemak Keyboard Layout: Better than Qwerty or Dvorak?

(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

After discussing ANSI, ISO, and Dvorak in the keyboard layout series, we have come up with the layout that is the most suitable alternative for Qwerty and Dvorak.

The keyboard layout we are going to discuss in this article is ‘Colemak Keyboard Layout‘.

Colemak is considered the third most popular keyboard layout after Qwerty and Dvorak.

The working mechanism for all three layouts is quite similar but speed, ergonomics, and structure make them differ from each other.

That’s why the question surrounds, is Colemak better than Qwerty and Dvorak? or there is a clause behind it, we will find out all the answers regarding Colemak Layout through this article.

So stick with the article till the end to get the precise answer.

Let’s get dive into the details!

Introduction To Colemak Keyboard Layout

colemak layout-1

Colemak layout is a keyboard layout designed to obtain efficient, comfortable, and faster-typing speed with few errors by placing the most common and frequently used letters on the home row.

Almost 75% of typing can be done only using the Home row keys which is slightly higher compared to Dvorak and Qwerty which has 70% and 32% respectively.

Colemak can drastically reduce finger pains and strain during typing as most of the common keys can be accessed easily due to its short key distance mechanism.

Colemak Layout got its name from Shai Coleman who invented Colemak layout for a keyboard in 2006.

Colemak Layout Keyboard is designed on the basis of the Qwerty layout as it has changed only 17 keys placement on the keyboard, apart from that maximum keys are aligned the same as the Qwerty layout.

The significant factor behind the invention of the Colemak keyboard is to reduce the downsides of the Dvorak layout such as Dvorak’s lack of having the most used keyboard Shortcuts like (Copy and Paste) due to its C and V keys placement.

But with the Colemak, all the keyboard shortcuts associated with the Qwerty keyboard can be applicable on the Colemak Keyboard too.

Advantages Of Colemak Layout

Colemak Layout is designed to keep in mind that the downsides that the Qwerty and Dvorak layout has should be reduced so It may become the user’s favorite keyboard layout.

That’s why Colemak Keyboard has several advantages over some other popular layouts.

Let’s discuss how this layout plays a vital role in practical applications as well as whether is it better than Qwerty and Dvorak or just a hyped product.

First of all, look at all the significant advantages associated with the Colemak Layout:

1. More Ergonomics

Similar to the Dvorak keyboard, the Colemak Layout is better known to provide more ergonomics due to its key placement during typing on it.

According to studies, the most common words are placed at the home row on the Colemak that’s why you can type 35x more words on the Colemak Keyboard compared to Qwerty keyboards.

On the left-hand side, A, R, S, and T keys are aligned which can easily be accessed with the left hand, on the other side H, N, E, I, and O are placed on the right side on the home row.

D can be pressed either with the left or right hand, it depends on the user’s typing habit.

Colemak has one extra key on the home row to increase typing speed and ergonomics.

As 75% of typing can only be done by using the home row so the typing speed and comfortability can drastically be improved unless the user should have expertise in typing on Colemak.

2. Fast and Efficient

Colemak Layout is considered the fast and efficient along with comfortability during typing.

The distance between keys is shorter as well as very easy to reach with both hands increasing the movement over the entire keyboard and providing very fast and efficient typing.

It also reduces finger strain and fatigue, so if you type perpetually during any application, it is going to perfectly suit your needs.

There is no doubt to say Colemak Layout keyboard is fast and accurate at the same time but for a beginner, it may create some challenges at the initial level but when you get used to it, Colemak is certainly an exceptional keyboard layout.

Colemak concept is slightly different from other keyboard layouts.

3. Retaining Keyboard Shortcuts

Retaining the most used keyboard shortcuts in the Colemak is the most prominent advantage that makes Colemak different from other keyboard layouts specially Dvorak.

The key placement in Colemak is way better as well as shortcut oriented as for copy, cut, and paste we use Ctrl + C, Ctrl + X, and Ctrl + V respectively, for that the position of C, X, and V keys are retained same as the Qwerty keyboard layout.

While in Dvorak, these keys are aligned differently and positioned is changed due to using the keyboard shortcut is very tough and inappropriate in Dvorak.

Qwerty layout is the most popular and it is the base for all the other keyboard layouts that’s why people generally have the habit of using these keyboard shortcuts on Qwerty layout which looks feasible and practical too.

What can be better than retaining these keyboard shortcuts in the keyboard layout? Sounds right!

For that reason, I would say Colemak Layout works flawlessly and have a more oriented key structure for using Keyboard shortcuts.

4. Multilingual & Symbol Support

Colemak Keyboard Layout allows you to type in many various languages and symbols that can be very useful in typing and communicating with someone.

The multilingual feature of Colemak Layout definitely a big upside as it has over 40 different languages support which can be switched with the help of the language switching options in Windows

Operating system and Mac.

If you want to type in different languages, Colemak will not disappoint you.

Apart from multilingual support, Colemak provides a variety of symbols that can be used in typing, e.g. “pâté”, “mañana”, €, em-dash, and non-breaking space.

Every OS has a different option for accessing symbols so you need to study how to actuate symbols in typing for your dedicated operating system.

Overall, Colemak Layout’s multilingual & symbol support make this keyboard layout very sensational and stand out from the crowd.

5. Easy To Learn

Yes, you heard it right, it’s slightly easy for a qwerty user to learn Colemak layout.

The Colemak Layout is comparatively easy to learn than Dvorak due to its key placement which needs only 2 keys to move between a user’s hand.

Colemak also retains most of the keyboard shortcuts which required Z, X, C, and V to be pressed simultaneously with Ctrl so these key positions are placed identically which makes this layout feasible to learn.

As Colemak Layout keyboard is completely based on the Qwerty layout because the position of 17 keys is changed while other keys’ positions remain the same just like the Qwerty layout.

These minor factors bring broad impact during learning of the Colemak layout making it easier and more feasible to learn compared to other layouts.

The transition from Qwerty to Colemak will definitely be going comparatively easy and fast.

How to Switch to Colemak Keyboard Layout

colemak layout-Grey Keyboard

Source: colemak.com

 

Switching to Colemak Layout from Qwerty and Dvorak is a simple and easy process just like we switch Dvorak to Qwerty keyboard.

Either you can directly buy the Colemak Keyboard which comes with Colemak Layout or you can program keys if your keyboard support programming functionality which is mostly found in mechanical keyboards.

After programming is done, you need to change the Keycaps of the keyboard according to the Colemak Layout, most mechanical keyboard support plug-in and plug-out features for the keycaps.

Colemak Layout keyboard overlay is also a better choice to transform your keyboard to Colemak.

This process will change the layout physically, now you need to change the keyboard layout through the operating system with the help of software.

OS layout changing step is quite simple, we have already published an article for it so follow this Guide.

How to change OS layout for Dvorak and Colemak Layout.

Note: In the above guide for changing the Operating system layout for Dvorak, you just need to type Colemak instead of Dvorak. Apart from all steps are the same.

Take a look at the embedded video from Marcos Rocha, Why he uses Colemak Keyboard instead of Qwerty.

Source: Marcos Rocha

 

Colemak Layout For Programming

If you are a computer programmer, Colemak Keyboard Layout may attract you due to its identical key placement along with its efficiency and accuracy which plays a significant role in writing a source code.

In practicality, I would say Colemak did an excellent job as it maintains almost all the keyboard shortcuts (X, C, V) which are mostly used by the programmers, as well as Colemak, which gives slight advantages to programmers due to its home-centric dependability.

As most common programming letters and symbols can be actuated only using the home row, the error generation probability is very low in Colemak, considering these factors It will prove to be an exceptional keyboard for programmers.

You can also check out Colemak Programmer Layout which is specially designed keeping the programming in mind by the developers.

Is Colemak faster than QWERTY?

There are many factors associated while opting for a keyboard layout and keyboard speed is one of the most vital features that a user looks at.

So the question arises in the user’s mind is the Colemak layout is faster than Qwerty Layout?

Well, the answer is simply yes, Colemak Layout is slightly faster than Qwerty as the highest typing speed with Colemak is 200 words per min on an extreme level whereas with the Qwerty layout the same typing would fall around 100 words per min.

The second most affecting factor for typing is the most common key distance which is slightly shorter on Colemak Layout due to its structure and identical key placement.

Looking at these factors, I would say, yes you can observe a significant improvement in typing speed on the Colemak keyboard layout compared to the Qwerty layout, all you need is to become an expert and get used to Colemak which needs some time and patience.

The finger fatigue and strain are also comparatively less in Colemak during perpetual typing so overall Colemak is absolutely great layout for day-to-day typing.

Is Colemak Worth Switching?

Colemak Keyboard Layout is designed by keeping in mind that the home row should be used most during typing as our fingers rest most of the time on the Home row because it feels comfortable in this position.

Whereas talking about the Qwerty keyboard, home row keys are rarely used in Qwerty due to their unstructured key placement.

But we get used to qwerty that’s why we feel Qwerty is the most perfect keyboard layout but it’s not true.

If you give some time to learn Colemak Keyboard Layout, you would feel that Colemak is drastically faster, more comfortable, and more efficient than Qwerty and Dvorak so the conclusion is Yes It is worth switching to Colemak Layout.

Just give some time to Colemak, you will feel the real difference in your typing speed.

Colemak vs Qwerty

Colemak shares many similarities as well as some significant differences with the Qwerty layout, so it needs to know by a user so he can decide better what works best for his hands.

It can depend on user-to-user habits and typing environments, so read the differences between Colemak and Qwerty carefully and finally decide for yourself.

Here are the following differences in technical factors:

Technical Benchmarks

Colemak

Qwerty

Invented By

Shai Coleman in 2006.

Christopher Latham in 1870s.

Popularity

Not so popular among keyboard users.

Widely Popular and most used keyboard layout till now.

Home Row Keys

A, R, S, T, D, H, N, E, I, O

A, S, D, F, G, H, J, K, L

Typing Speed

Faster than Qwerty.

Good typing speed.

Typing Ratio

75% of typing can be done by only using Home row.

For Qwerty, the ratio reduce to 32% of typing using Home row.

WPM (Word Per Minute)

200 WPM for highest recording speed.

100 WPM same for Qwerty.

Key Centric

Colemak is Home Row centric layout.

Qwerty is not Home Row centric as it is more oriented to Top and Bottom Row.

Time Required to Learn

Colemak is easy to learn which required 45-60 days to become expert.

Qwrty is most popular layout among all Keybard layout so users are already expert typing on it.

Conclusion

This is all the information I have covered about the Colemak Layout, we have seen that Colemak is certainly a good alternative to the Qwerty Layout.

The downside which Dvorak contain is definitely removed in the Colemak layout such as retaining keyboard shortcuts, identical keys alignment, and many more.

This is really a justified upgrade from Dvorak and Qwerty to Colemak, which not only increase typing speed and ergonomics but generate output with fewer errors.

Based on the Qwerty layout, learning the Colemak keybaord is easy for all as well as switching between these layouts is smooth and simple.

For new users, the Tarmark Layout should be appreciated as it helps a new user to learn the Colemak Layout quickly in certain steps.

If you are looking to switch on the Colemak layout, just go ahead following all the steps above, you will be surprised with its performance.

I hope this post was helpful to you.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!!

Colemak Layout FAQs

Is Colemak good for programming?

Colemak is undoubtedly a phenomenal layout that works best for programming too because most common words and symbols are present on the home row in Colemak where your fingers move very frequently compared to other positions on the keyboard.

Is Colemak the best keyboard layout?

Colemak Layout is considered one of the best keyboard as far as ergonomics, typing speed, and efficiency is concerned, that's why it is the better option between the Qwerty and Dvorak. You need some time to get used to it for optimum results.

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