Does a Mechanical Keyboard Make You Type Faster?

Switch and Click blog post: How to Type Faster

Question and Answer

Ever since the PC became a staple in everyone’s household. Or even now when PCs are becoming less common and laptops are taking over, being able to type fast is quite the skill. So, I wonder, other than taking classes in school or something, how does one teach themselves to type faster?

I think this would be a helpful resource for my parents who immigrated to America in their 20s, but the tech boom didn’t occur until later in life. How do I get my dad to stop pecking with just his index fingers?

According to a research study, a hunt and peck method can be just as effective as touch typing. Typing styles are as different as people. Both hands even move separately. Like handwriting, playing the guitar or piano, it comes down to practice, technique, and frequency of practice. Sure, a typing course would be helpful, but all that learning needs to be applied daily. Perhaps I should tell my dad to start a blog. A mechanical keyboard could help with the tactile and audio feedback while learning. It also adds confidence and responsiveness to each keystroke, but it is not the end all be all. Make sure that your posture and desk/chair allow you to be in an ergonomic position to type.

Is there research?

When doing research, I found a Youtube video that cites studies that analyze how the hands and fingers move during typing. Their related article can be found here.

In short, it would be beneficial to watch the video or read the post, but here are some highlights.

The study was done in 2016 called How We Type: Movement Strategies and Performance in Everyday Typing. It was done by Anna Maria Feit, Daryl Weir, and Antti Oulasvirta.

In summary, they concluded that someone does not need to use all 10 fingers to be a fast typist. A person with 5 fingers can be just as fast as someone with 10. Even without touch typing, you can type without looking at your fingers.

Taking a typing course doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be a faster typist than people who did not. Both hands move differently when typing. And there are many different strategies that are effective.

Touch Typing and Typing Speed

The definition of touch typing is the skill of typing using all of one’s fingers without looking at the keys. It also involves positioning the hands on the home row, which is the middle row of the keyboard with the left hand on the letters ASDF and the right hand on the letters JKL: and the thumbs at the space bar.

Typists who do not use the home row keys but do not look at their keyboard are called hybrid typists. I myself am a hybrid typist while my husband is a touch typist. Personally, hand size makes a big difference.

If I were to touch type, keeping my fingers on the home row, my fingers would be strained and stretched to reach the far ends of the keyboard. It is an adaptation of wanting to type fast but being limited by finger length.

Home row keys
Home row keys

Does hand size affect typing speed?

According to my online research, typing is very similar to playing the piano. People of all hand sizes can play the piano well, but their techniques differ to adapt to their bodies.

Some things that can affect typing speed include the size of the keyboard, posture, the height of the chair and surface of the keyboard, and whether you remember the location of the keys or not.

What are some free online typing classes I can take?

I work in a school district and some of the things that my students use to learn typing include the following:

Educational resources for typing:

  • Typing Club – a free resource that has interactive videos and practice sessions. It starts from the very basics and progressively gets more difficult. Also allows you to take a placement test to skip things you might already be good at.
  • EduTyping – an education-focused resource that you child might have access too and can practice at home.
  • Keyboarding Without Tears – a curriculum that is low cost for students who have a difficult time learning to type using other methods

Mainstream resources for typing:

  • Tipp10 is a free online resource for learning to touch type. It is available as a web app or as a downloadable software version as well.
  • keybr is another free resource that allows you to practice touch typing that offers a cool on-screen visual of where the keys are, so you don’t have to look down so much.
  • Typing.com has some free typing lessons, but it is limited. Not all their content is available without payment.
  • Speed Typing Online has basic lessons as well, but practice gets boring as it is super repetitive
  • Ratatype has basic lessons on how to start touch typing and practice as well.
  • BBC’s Dance Mat Typing lets you learn in a game-like fashion, super fun for kiddos and adults alike.  
  • Typing Study has comprehensive lessons, but like some above, it is a bit boring.
  • Pete’s Online Typing Cource has individual lessons on ergonomics, basics, and more. It involves more reading.
Practice
Practice equals speed.

Optimum Conditions for Typing Quickly

Posture

To use your hands and fingers quickly and properly, you must first establish a stable base. Make sure you are sitting in your chair and now slouched over or hanging off the edge.

The graphic below demonstrates ergonomic principles for sitting and doing deskwork such as typing.

Make sure your elbows are at 90 degrees and wrists are in neutral position, no bending up or down. The fingers are hovering above the keys and may be resting on the home row keys. You are ready to type, my friend.

frog warming up his hands
Have cozy warm, unstiff fingers before you get started. Warm those sausages up.

Other things that people may not think about include having a wrist foam pad, making sure that it’s warm in the room/office so your joints aren’t stiff and frozen, and having an appropriately sized keyboard for your typing style.

Ergonomic desk setup
Ergonomic desk setup

Does a mechanical keyboard make a difference?

Some say it’s a miracle. Others say they type just as fast on a membrane keyboard.

Personally, I type much faster on a keyboard that is personalized for me. When I was using the Razer Blackwidow Tournament Edition, I was typing a little bit slower albeit still fast.

I prefer a tactile keyboard that requires a soft-medium force to press. Others may prefer something completely different.

My husband prefers a soft force to press and clicky keys. It’s up to you to experiment with different keyboard switches that we explained in another post, our guide to common mechanical keyboard switches. It may be useful to know which switches to try out before making the big purchase.

For example, I type terribly slow with a keyboard with linear switches because it offers no feedback for when it registers your keystroke. However, a clicky or tactile keyboard will provide the feedback that I need to know when to stop pressing and move on.

If you’re trying to be a superhuman typist, then learn the actuation point of your keyboard and don’t bottom out. Press just enough to register the keystroke and then keep going. It takes practice.

Practice is probably the number one thing that will make you type faster, not some new keyboard with brand new switches, although that does sound like a good proposition.

This may be crazy, but some people prefer the chiclet keys that are on a Macbook or similar type keyboard on laptops. Outrageous because those really hurt my wrist and fingers. Oh well, everyone is different, I suppose.

Anyways, hope this article helps you out! Or you could be a speed demon, that’s okay too.

Happy typing! Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any concerns, comments, or questions.

For a talking summary, watch our Youtube video on The Switch and Click

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s