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Colemak For Windows with Capslock to Backspace

  • Started by vaskozl
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  • From: Malmö, Sweden
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Some time ago I fell upon this thread, which showed how you can "hack" MKLC to change CapsLock into Backspace with only the layout itself. This allows you to install full Colemak without having to remap the registry and best of all, if you switch back to Qwerty (some one else using your computer?) you get CapsLock back. Since no one uploaded any layouts and new users might not be sure of how to do this, I compiled 2 versions of colemak and made them available for download.

The ctrl + capslock and shift + capslock acts exactly like ctrl + backspace and shift + backspace. As of now I have had no issues with this layout.

Download: Direct

Enjoy!

Edit: Remove CO version due to language settings in newer windows.

Last edited by vaskozl (28-Nov-2017 05:14:00)

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Ingenious use of the Corsican locale there! ;)

And thanks for the contribution. I hope Shai can make it "official".

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I mainly made this because I wanted to have Colemak on one of the computers in home, which was also used by the rest of my family. Therefore remapping caps lock through the registry would be a bit evil, since everyone using the computer would experience the change. Also, I didn't use autohotkey or portable keyboard layout , since I find it more reliable to use a native layout for the base characters and autohotkey  for  the extended layer. It has happened to me that autohotkey bugs out while I am in the middle of a StarCraft battle,  jamming my entire keyboard.

DreymaR said:

Ingenious use of the Corsican locale there! ;)

I hope some day Microsoft decides to officially add Colemak with its appropriate abbreviation "Cm" to windows :)

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FYI, registry remapping is possible by-user at least.

I don't think MS will come around soon. And I'm not sure 'Cm' is more appropriate than 'Co'? We had a longish discussion about that a while back, but I don't think it was quite conclusive. To me, 'cm' is too strongly linked to centimeters while 'co' has a ring of co-something suggesting togetherness which is nice! (Then again, the 'Co' locale is already taken - is the 'Cm' locale abbreviation free?)

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vaskozl said:

I hope some day Microsoft decides to officially add Colemak with its appropriate abbreviation "Cm" to windows :)

Well... TypeMatrix keyboards come hardwired with the ability to switch to Colemak and the company also sells optional Colemak-labeled covers, and WASD Keyboards offers the Colemak layout as a key legend template to customize and order a keyboard with, so more and more it's looking as if Microsoft's policy of not supporting it due to "no such hardware devices on the market" is beginning to be on increasingly shaky ground.

I haven't used Windows myself since 2006, but that OS really does make installing keyboard layouts easy... just download and run the installer.  It's as simple as any other malware, er, I mean software.  Well, as long as your version of Windows is supported (I have run into several that did not install in Windows 8, most notably the Capewell ones).  So really the only problem is those systems that you have no control over whatsoever and cannot install software.  In some cases (where you can't even change basic settings, such as choose between installed layouts), this is a problem with Dvorak as well.

But... isn't one of Colemak's biggest claimed and generally agreed-upon strengths the fact that it is relatively similar to QWERTY?  That the layout's design, being a direct QWERTY descendent/modification, makes it easy to switch back and forth when needed (both for typing and shortcuts), to help overcome some of the difficulty of memorizing two different layouts?  Doesn't that design goal alone reduce the need for every single computer you come across to absolutely *have* to support Colemak?

I do agree that it's about time Colemak is included in Windows based on the fact that it is supported by default even in Mac OS X (never mind many common and obscure Linux distributions and a few BSDs), but to be fair... in most cases it is already a quick and easy install away and even if it's not its QWERTY heritage is meant to reduce the trouble.

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DreymaR said:

FYI, registry remapping is possible by-user at least.

Hmm, I didn't know that, I thought it changed the registry for everyone.

DreymaR said:

I don't think MS will come around soon. And I'm not sure 'Cm' is more appropriate than 'Co'? We had a longish discussion about that a while back, but I don't think it was quite conclusive. To me, 'cm' is too strongly linked to centimeters while 'co' has a ring of co-something suggesting togetherness which is nice! (Then again, the 'Co' locale is already taken - is the 'Cm' locale abbreviation free?)

I remember Shai saying that the preffered abbreviation is 'Cm' and since he is the creator that should probably be the official one. Otherwise I also agree that 'Co' is more intuitive. Even though Shai said that 'Cm' would be better the favicon on the wiki (colemak.com) is Co. This is also the case with the portable keyboard layout. So the case is quite unclear.

UltraZelda64 said:

Well... TypeMatrix keyboards come hardwired with the ability to switch to Colemak and the company also sells optional Colemak-labeled covers, and WASD Keyboards offers the Colemak layout as a key legend template to customize and order a keyboard with, so more and more it's looking as if Microsoft's policy of not supporting it due to "no such hardware devices on the market" is beginning to be on increasingly shaky ground.

I haven't used Windows myself since 2006, but that OS really does make installing keyboard layouts easy... just download and run the installer.  It's as simple as any other malware, er, I mean software.  Well, as long as your version of Windows is supported (I have run into several that did not install in Windows 8, most notably the Capewell ones).  So really the only problem is those systems that you have no control over whatsoever and cannot install software.  In some cases (where you can't even change basic settings, such as choose between installed layouts), this is a problem with Dvorak as well.

Our problem after all is that when we go somewhere other than our nice cozy Linux maniches (which lucky us have colemak preinstalled), which is in most cases a Windows device, we don't have Colemak. Even though it is really easy to install the layout, in most cases even if you are somehow aloud (admin rights?) it's inappropriate to start installing stuff on it, since  the computer is not your own. You can run a PKL, but that takes time to download, and this gets annoying to do if you switch between computers regularly.
It would be much simpler if you could right click the language bar, choose settings and be done in a few seconds, even on computers that don't have internet connection.
I am a mechanical keyboard guy myself so I know some stuff ;) Type matrix is cool  and it is not limited by software layouts since everything is hardware based but I ain't gonna carry it around everywhere I go. WASD provide colemak of course, as well as pretty much anything else you could want :D. Does that mean that Microsoft should add every single layout WASD can make? I think it is quite the opposite. When Microsoft adds Colemak, then people will start producing boards that have Colemak key caps. Microsoft has added so many different regional variations of qwerty it's unbelievable they haven't add Colemak yet, which they could easily integrate.

As for typing on Qwerty, of course we can if the need be, but how is that a solution to our ergonomic goals here? Moreover, I highly believe that if Microsoft integrates Colemak into windows (which they can do with a simple update)  the number of people who are willing to take on Colemak will greatly increase.

Last edited by vaskozl (23-Jan-2013 17:08:23)

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vaskozl said:

WASD provide colemak of course, as well as pretty much anything else you could want :D. Does that mean that Microsoft should add every single layout WASD can make? I think it is quite the opposite. When Microsoft adds Colemak, then people will start producing boards that have Colemak key caps. Microsoft has added so many different regional variations of qwerty it's unbelievable they haven't add Colemak yet, which they could easily integrate.

My point is, WASD produces Colemak-layout key legends as a default, as a template.  You could easily go to the "customize keyboard" section, select the Colemak template, and order it... there is really no "customization" that needs to be done.  You just pick a layout and order... it's really no different than, for example, Unicomp's selection of key layouts--where they also support Dvorak and many others to order.  Or ordering a TypeMatrix and getting a Colemak skin to go along with it (and its built-in Colemak support).  It's just that WASD goes all-out, allowing almost everything to be changed if desired.  That doesn't mean the templates aren't good enough for most people, and that you need to create a truly custom design just to get one of their keyboards.

vaskozl said:

As for typing on Qwerty, of course we can if the need be, but how is that a solution to our ergonomic goals here? Moreover, I highly believe that if Microsoft integrates Colemak into windows (which they can do with a simple update)  the number of people who are willing to take on Colemak will greatly increase.

I'm just saying that is kind of the whole point of Shai's design, the QWERTY similarity didn't just come out of thin air.  He obviously thought about using Colemak as a "primary" layout in a QWERTY world where the other would undoubtedly be just about everywhere you go... and where it's not, one of its equally-crappy foreign language specific variations most likely reigns supreme.

vaskozl said:

When Microsoft adds Colemak, then people will start producing boards that have Colemak key caps. Microsoft has added so many different regional variations of qwerty it's unbelievable they haven't add Colemak yet, which they could easily integrate.

Actually, I'm not so sure.  It costs practically nothing to add a software layout and make copies than it does to make a physical keyboard with a different layout and sell it along with the standard.  The disturbingly limited selection of even hardwired Dvorak keyboards with Dvorak key printing is proof of this... it's been around for decades, yet it's nowhere in stores.

Last edited by UltraZelda64 (23-Jan-2013 22:33:31)
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vaskozl said:

In the download zip you will find 2 versions: Colemak (CO) and Colemak (EN), the Colemak (CO) is labeled as Corsican and thus retains the CO abbreviation, while the  (EN) one is under United states. I made the (CO) one since I prefer to switch layouts with shift + alt and because this allows me to easily see what layout the current program is using.

The ctrl + capslock and shift + capslock acts exactly like ctrl + backspace and shift + backspace. As of now I have had no issues with this layout.

Download (please message me if the download ever gets removed :) )

Enjoy!

Hey, I tried this and it works wonderful. Great job vaskozl.

I wonder why it isn't official and instead in the official download there is the complicated option that edits the registry to change the keys. It makes no sense to me. (Maybe there's a reason, and I'm not aware of it).

Last edited by wjames (01-Apr-2013 02:31:36)
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Thanks!

Been using Colemak for a couple of years but the installer version didn't have the capslock option, i'm now using your install.

The only thing i'm missing is that backspace is still backspace. Can you create another installer where capslock would be turned into capslock?
That would be great since I sometimes use the capslock :P

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Sc0tTy said:

Thanks!

Been using Colemak for a couple of years but the installer version didn't have the capslock option, i'm now using your install.

The only thing i'm missing is that backspace is still backspace. Can you create another installer where capslock would be turned into capslock?
That would be great since I sometimes use the capslock :P

What do you think would be a good Caps Lock? I've been using an Autohotkey Script that uses Left Shift+Backspace, although if that combination interferes with a keystroke you use then I'd recommend Left Shift + Right Shift.

Looks something like:

LShift & Backspace::
If GetKeyState("CapsLock", "T") = 1
    SetCapsLockState, off
Else
    SetCapsLockState, on
return

With all the keyboards I've worked with, this combination works the best for me because it's close to current muscle memory. Also, if you use Autohotkey to remap Capslock, Autohotkey recognizes Capslock as Capslock, and the first line becomes

LShift & Capslock::

which is a unique combination.

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LShift+RShift is a good combo (and it can even be used both ways to do two different things!), but since it is so good it's been used by others – to change layout for instance. That shouldn't worry most users, but maybe some?

Another variant I've seen is Caps+LShift, which you can hit relatively well with some practice. But there's a risk of hitting it accidentally. Caps+RShift should also work well, and I actually haven't seen that one in use anywhere else.

Last edited by DreymaR (03-Apr-2014 08:15:57)

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DreymaR said:

LShift+RShift is a good combo (and it can even be used both ways to do two different things!), but since it is so good it's been used by others – to change layout for instance. That shouldn't worry most users, but maybe some?

Another variant I've seen is Caps+LShift, which you can hit relatively well with some practice. But there's a risk of hitting it accidentally. Caps+RShift should also work well, and I actually haven't seen that one in use anywhere else.

I hadn't seen any recommendations on where to put Capslock back in. Glad I'm not the only person that thinks that combo is good.

Spent some time browsing the forums and am impressed with the thoroughness you've covered these layouts. Accidental hitting was what I was thinking as well, so you can accidentally-on-purpose hit it with one finger like you can now. As a person familar with the en-US layout, higher layout levels and extra characters/ligatures are uncommon. I probably won't use Capslock to add on additional layout levels.

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Unfortunately it is not possible to create a layout with MSKLC which binds capslock to to a key+modifier, meaning that it has to be on the first layer of the keyboard. The only place where you could therefor put capslock without effectively removing a key is the old backspace, something that is not encouraged for various reason. If you still want to do this you can do so easily as described in the original topic here.

Instead of using the capslock key I would encourage people to use a good text editor which allows you to change the capitalisation of text easily and more methodically.

Last edited by vaskozl (05-Apr-2014 10:23:24)

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Could you make a Colemak-Wide variant? The way I do the wide layout is by changing the center column between D and H  from

5 6 7
 G J L
  D H N
   B K M

to

5 = 6
 G [ J
  D ? H
   B ] K

and I put the quotes above and to the right of the O.

If you don't want to do it could you upload the source files you used to make your layout so that I could modify it?

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Please, can anybody provide a mirror for the download? I'm behind a corporate proxy that blocks mediafire.

Thanks a lot

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JTrilogy said:

If you don't want to do it could you upload the source files you used to make your layout so that I could modify it?

The program used to make these layout is provided by microsoft: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/goglobal/bb964665.aspx (MSKLC) for short. While rebinding Capslock -> Backspace is not possible trough the interface of the program, it can be done as described by screaminglemon's thread I mentioned in OP. You can make any layout you desire this way.

Last edited by vaskozl (04-Jun-2014 20:20:49)

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There's a severe problem with the fact that this layout switches between colemak and qwerty when ctrl+shift is pressed: you can't undo close tabs in internet browsers. Most browsers allow you to undo close tabs with the ctrl + shift + t hotkey.

Is there any solution to this problem? It's a deal-breaker :-(

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That's not the layout. That's your system settings. Find the locale input settings in Windows (they're buried deep and I don't remember the path ottomh) and at the bottom there will be a button you can press for "Keys to Change Layout" or suchlike. There you can disable the accursed shortcut, or set it to something semi-sensible (I used Ctrl+Shift+1 and Ctrl+Shift+2 to switch to the two layouts directly, and disabled the other "switch layout" hotkey, iirc).

Nowadays I only use PKL because that gives you portability and the Extend mappings. And they're completely awesome!

Last edited by DreymaR (24-Jan-2015 15:56:26)

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(I'm browsing not-so-old-topics and just decided to reply. Probably user noobster won't see it, but please don't bite - it may be useful for others.)

noobster said:

There's a severe problem with the fact that this layout switches between colemak and qwerty when ctrl+shift is pressed: you can't undo close tabs in internet browsers. Most browsers allow you to undo close tabs with the ctrl + shift + t hotkey.

Is there any solution to this problem? It's a deal-breaker :-(

It's a default Windows' setting. In windows you can have multiple 'languages' each with its own layouts set.
To change it: Right mouse click on language bar -> Properties or go to Control Center -> Regional and Language Settings (or whatever they are called in English or your language) -> Keyboards and Languages.
Then go to Advanced Key Settings (or again whatever it's called, last tab). Switching "Between languages" by default has LAlt+Shift - switching layouts in one language is hidden in that option, so change it.
Only options you can choose (for both changing language and changing layouts) are: non-defined, ctrl+shift, Lalt+shift, ` - not much space for customization, probably disabling switching languages and assigning LAlt+shift to switching layouts would be the best for you. (Or, as DreymaR said, disable them and set shortcuts to switch the layouts directly.)

Though, ctrl+shift shouldn't change your layout unless you release those keys together without any other key:
- If you ctrl+shift+T, it shouldn't change layouts. Even when you you release T first and ctrl&shift after that - it doesn't change your layout.
- Unless you try to hit all 3 keys at once and push T first - then reopening doesn't work and your layouts switch.
I've just tested this. I've always used ctrl+shift+T and I always had at least 2 layouts - almost never had problems.

And some advice:
If you want to see what layout is currently set, turn on your language bar. In options mentioned earlier - first tab ('General') should show you your choice of default layout as well as a list of all chosen layouts. Click on a layout, then Properties - and you can change its icon there. That way when you switch keyboards, you see different icon for different keyboards. :)
(For example I have gray, red, and blue (Polish qwerty, Polish qwertz, and Russian) in PL; gray and yellow (qwerty&Dvorak) in EN.)

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Heh, I thought I answered that post. I sure did answer a similar one. :-)

But your answer is very thorough which is nice. Should've had a little wiki section for tips like that one.

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Alternatively you could use the Corsican (CO) version to have it triggered with shift+alt.

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I've been happily used the colemak(CO) version for the last several month until I found one disadvantage with it.
MS Word treats the texts entered with this layout as Corsican language and doesn't do spelling check for English. Now I installed colemak(EN) and set it as Default input language and as Display language of Welcome screen. That works with spelling check in Word and I do not bother with switching layouts as colemak is the primary one.

Last edited by ckofy (27-Aug-2016 19:39:48)
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It's really not the best idea to mess with the language settings of your OS, just to get an icon you like. :-)

Seemed like a really neat hack at the time, but in hindsight it's bound to cause too much trouble I feel.

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There is a second icon appears by the language icon in the toolbar for the layout if more that one layout installed. Those icons are customizable.
Dvorak in Windows is turned on this way. So, there are really no advantages of having colemak as (Co)rsican.

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I installed the layout but it doesn't  appear under the icon:

2j1lpur.jpg

So I can't select it... It works only if it is the only one selected. Any ideas?

I'd like to keep them both so that I can switch easily in case I need the caps lock

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