What is a Dvorak Keyboard Layout: In-Depth Guide {2022}


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Using Qwerty Layout has been certainly a comfortable and satisfying typing experience for you, right?

Well, it should be because the Qwerty layout is the most popular and widely used keyboard layout across the world due to its structured key placement which allows fast and ergonomic finger movement during typing.

But do you know?

There is a very unique keyboard layout on the market which is not as popular as the Qwerty layout but it is said to be the best ergonomics alternative to the Qwerty keyboard.

The Layout I’m talking about is the Dvorak layout.

Let’s understand the concept of Dvorak Layout, its pros, and cons, its applications in practical scenarios, and How Dvorak is different from the Qwerty keyboard layout.

In this article, every question will be covered in detail about Dvorak Layout Keyboard.

So, let’s get dive into the details!

What is Dvorak Layout?

dvorak layout-1

The Dvorak Layout is a keyboard layout designed by August Dvorak in the 1930s to enhance typing ergonomics by placing the most common letters on the home row such as all the vowels (A, E, I, O, U) and most used consonants.

The main intention to develop the Dvorak layout is to increase the overall typing speed with fewer errors and finger movement on the keyboard.

On the left-hand side, you will find all the vowels (A, E, I, O, U) which can be typed with the left hand, whereas most used constants such as (D, H, T, N, S) are placed on the right-hand side which can be easily accessible with the right-hand fingers.

The Dvorak pronounced “duh-VOR-ack” that helps keyboard typists to enhance their productivity on the keyboard as well as provide comfortability and easy to use mechanism.

This Dvorak Keyboard is considered the best alternative to the QWERTY keyboard due to its structured key placement which is being used significantly while typing.

As QWERTY Layout was introduced almost 60 years earlier and Dvorak does not have enough advantages over QWERTY that’s the reason Dvorak was not able to achieve the most standard layout title.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout Specifications

Dvorak Keyboard Layout is equipped with many specifications that help users to improve their typing and change typing habits.

I’m putting all the vital specifications through a table to understand this layout better and in more depth.

Take a look at the specification table of Dvorak Layout:

Layout 

Dvorak Layout

Invented By

August Dvorak in the 1930s.

Popularity

Quite popular among keyboard enthusiasts after Qwerty.

Key Centric

Home Row centric keyboard layout.

Home Row Keys Placement

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

Dvorak Layout Features

70% of typing can be done only with Home row keys.

All the vowels are on the left-hand side.

Most used consonants are on the right-hand side.

The least used keys are on the bottom row.

The highest recorded typing speed on Dvorak is 194 WPM (Words Per Minute)

Good for programming.

Is Dvorak Easier to Learn

The most significant question arises in keyboard lovers’ minds is Dvorak easy to learn?

Well, if we look at the key placement of the Dvorak layout we find that the letters which are mostly used are placed in the Home row where our fingers rest during typing which means the Home row is laid in the most ideal position compared to the top and bottom row.

In Dvorak, all the vowels (AEIOU) are placed on the left side at the home row, and some consonants are placed on the right side which makes this layout unique and idiosyncratic.

For instance, if you type 10 different words on the keyboard, you will observe seven words consisting of letters found on the home row. That’s the beauty of the Dvorak keyboard.

For me, I press the home row keys more frequently than the top and bottom row keys and the placement of these keys looks perfect and easy to type on.

Whereas the top row has P, Y, F, G, R, and L with some special keys which are also easy to reach by the right fingers as these keys’ placement is center-right direction.

However, the bottom row has Q, J, K, X, B, M, W, V, and Z keys which look well placed too and quite easy to type, it required both hands to actuate.

Looking at these keys placement, we can conclude that Dvorak has 70 percent of all English keystrokes placed on the Home row, this key mechanism makes the Dvorak layout very easy to learn.

A beginner can face difficulties at initial but with a little bit of practice, anyone can become perfect at typing on Dvorak.

Is Dvorak Faster than QWERTY

As we have seen above that the Dvorak layout has 70% of the frequently used keys at its home row whereas for the QWERTY layout it is reduced to 32%.

This vital ratio can create slight differences while typing on the keyboard.

Due to the tradition and habit of using the Qwerty layout, the highest speed for the Qwerty keyboard is slightly higher compared to Dvorak which is around 227 WPM.

For the Dvorak keyboard layout, it is 194 WPM (Word Per Minute), so looking at the reading I can say the Qwerty keyboard layout is slightly ahead in terms of speed but we can’t deny the fact that the Dvorak has tremendous potential and it can achieve the peak speed with the time.

When someone masters the Dvorak layout, he can type way faster with fewer errors compared to other keyboard layouts, it’s all about the practices and typing environments.

Now we can conclude that the Dvorak layout has the potential to be expressed faster than Qwerty, all that is required is the time and practice on it.

How to Switch to the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Dvorak Keyboard Layout-2

Switching to a Dvorak keyboard is not generally recommended especially if you are using Qwerty keyboard throughout your typing journey.

But even if you have decided to switch your keyboard layout to Dvorak than there is some certain ways which can make your conventional keyboard to a Dvorak keyboard.

Here is the following way to change the layout of a computer keyboard:

1. Change Physical Layout

Changing directly a physical layout to a Dvorak is the most prominent way but it needs lots of customizations as well as time.

Mechanical keyboards usually allow programming functionality which means you can program any key with the help of software according to your preferences.

To do that, follow these three steps to turn your normal keyboard into a Dvorak keyboard:

  • Program the desired keys based on the Dvorak keys location, although this is not that simple you should be proficient on it.
  • Either you can directly buy a Dvorak keyboard layout, but it may burden on your pocket.
  • Dvorak keyboard overlay is also a good option for changing the physical layouts.

While switching to a physical layout following these above steps will not switch the operating system default layout which is Qwerty in most cases.

Looking to read Mechanical vs Membrane keyboard differences, follow this guide.

2. Change Default Operating System Layout

Every Operating System has different mechanism to change their default keyboard layout, which mainly set as the Qwerty layout.

But you can change easily by changing some important setting on Windows, and iOS.

Take a look at how you can change default layout for keyboard in different operating systems:

Windows 8, 10 & 11

To change the layout in Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11, you need to press the “Windows + I” button to enter the setting.

Then select “Time & Language”

Tap on “Language”

Tap on Add a language under the preferred languages tab.

Now search for United States-Dvorak and after selecting click on next.

Click on install, now Windows automatically install the preferred language on your computer system.

For a better understanding, you should see the below image which illustrates more clearly with highlighted text marked in yellow.

dvorak layout-windows 10
dvorak layout-windows 10-1

This is how you can change the keyboard Layout in Windows 8, 10, and Windows 11.

For changing the keyboard layout in Mac, the process is slightly different take a look at how it’s done in OS in apple computers.

Mac OS

If you are using macOS and want to change the Dvorak keyboard from a standard Qwerty keyboard then you need to follow these methods step-by-step:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Tap on Keyboard
  3. Then tap on Input Sources
  4. Select the plus sign in the bottom left corner and search for Dvorak.
  5. Now after adding the Dvorak keyboard layout, choose the Dvorak Keyboard from the English Sources list.
  6. When everything is set properly, you can switch the keyboard from the menu bar at the top of the screen.

After setting up everything, you can easily switch from Qwerty Keyboard to the Dvorak layout in macOS.

You can refer to the above image which I’ve embedded to understand these entire steps better and more practical way.

Please keep in mind that the Dvorak keyboard required lots of practice to get used to it whether you use it in Windows, macOS, or any other Operating system.

Is it worth switching to Dvorak?

Switching to Dvorak Layout totally comes down to a user preference because every user has their own typing habits and style, there is not any strong evidence that proves Dvorak can increase your typing speed.

The second important thing is Dvorak is very hard to learn for a user who comes from a Qwerty layout.

But it is also true that Dvorak is designed to obtain maximum typing speed so mastering Dvorak can significantly improve your typing experience, only practice and patience are required.

I would suggest if you kind of keyboard lover who can invest some time in learning Dvorak and need a nostalgic typing experience, Dvorak Layout is certainly worth trying.

One thing is certain, learning Dvorak is definitely worth and fun to type on it.

How to Learn Dvorak Layout

dvorak layout-learning

Source: learn.dvorak.nl

 

Learning the Dvorak layout is quite difficult for a beginner at initial but if you have finally decided to learn, not learn but want to become a master of it.

You need to follow certain steps to learn the Dvorak keyboard layout.

Some best online sites to learn Dvorak layout are: typing.com, learn.dvorak.nl

You can join various online programs to learn Dvorak where you can find various tutorials as well as helpful guides. Practicing daily for an hour will certainly make you an expert in typing on Dvorak Layout.

You can also download a typing tutorial software or application in your computer system which can teach you completely about the Dvorak layout, this software can even works in offline mode means no internet is required.

Please keep in mind that learning Dvorak required some time as well as effort, it may also impact your typing speed on Qwerty. But in the long run, you will master both of layouts and can easily switch between Dvorak and Qwerty layouts.

So investing time in learning Dvorak is completely justified and fun to type at the same time.

If you found difficulty while learning Dvorak Layout, you can check out this video to understand better and deep about Dvorak. 

Source: NoThisIsJohn

 

Dvorak vs Qwerty

dvorak layout-dvorak vs qwerty

When Keyboard users choose a layout for their keyboard, they probably end up between Dvorak vs Qwerty layouts because these are the two most popular keyboard layouts on the market.

Take a look at the significant differences between Dvorak and Qwerty keyboard layouts:

Hand Movement: Dvorak layout was developed by keeping in mind that maximum words can be typed with the right hand as Dvorak is a Right-hand centric layout, Whereas the Qwerty layout needs both hand movements simultaneously to type words.

Home Row Keys: Home row keys alignment in very different in both layouts. In Dvorak all the vowels (A, E, I, O, U) are aligned in the left hand side and some most used consonants (D, H, T, N, S) are placed at the right hand side of the keyboard.

Ergonoics and Comfortability: This is the factor I would say is disputed due to some reasons. Dvorak layout is designed like to provide more ergonomic and comfortability as maximum typing can be done with the Home row only.

However, Qwerty layout is comfotable while typing that’s why it is most popular layout among the keyboard users. People get used to Qwerty keyboard as it is the default keyboard layout comes with every devices.

Conclusion

As we have seen the working mechanism for Dvorak Layout and how it differs from the conventional Qwerty layout.

Everything has two sides which same applies to the Dvorak as using this layout has both positive and negative sides too.

Dvorak required lots of time and effort to learn and then mastering it needs dedication.

But looking at the positive aspects, one thing that is pretty clear about the Dvorak keyboard layout is if you master this layout, you can achieve a significant improvement in your typing culture as well as set a new height of typing records.

If you master both Dvorak and Qwerty layouts, it will become very feasible to switch between Dvorak and Qwerty keyboards layouts.

For keyboard enthusiasts like me, giving a try to learn Dvorak is definitely a great move in your typing journey.

You will love the Dvorak typing experience for sure.

I hope this post was helpful to you.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!!

Dvorak Layout FAQs

What is a Dvorak keyboard used for?

Dvorak Keyboard is mainly used for the purposes where typing speed and typing errors are major concern which impact typing efficiency such as programing, proffesional typing and official works, although Dvorak needs some time to get used to it.

Is Dvorak typing better?

The home keys alignment in Dvorak are beautifully placed as all vowels (A, E, I, O, U) and some most used consonants in any word (D, H, T, N, S) can be accessed easily with the fingers which can triggered 72% of typing with only home keys so We can say typing with the Dvorak Layout is better, improved and fast as well.

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