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    I don't know touch typing with qwerty, can I still learn colemak?

    • Started by raveensrk
    • 9 Replies:
    • Reputation: 0
    • Registered: 25-Jun-2021
    • Posts: 3

    Brief history on my typing habits,

    1. I learnt to type by playing video games.
    2. I do not know how to touch type.
    3. I can touch type some words I frequently use, like my name and passwords.
    4. I am a engineer and most of my work is on my computer.
    5. I hunt keys on the keyboard as I type and at best my speed is around only 35-40 wpm.
    6. Since I program most of the time I never had to improve my typing speed, since i can only progam as fast I think and not as fast as I type.
    7. I am 27 years old.
    8. I only use 8 digits to type and I dont use my 2 pinkys for typing other than for pressing Ctrl or Shifts or Return keys.

    Why I am trying to learn touch typing?

    I felt that I am putting more strain on my eyes and get tired very easily swicting my vision from keyboard to the screen constantly. And I also have some mild pains on my right wrist, due to bad wrist mouse positioning over the years. I don't want to aggreviate the condition with my bad typing habits.

    Other than that, over the years I have increased my programming skills and recently I feel like I cant type as fast as I think. I also want to learn to touch type so I dont have to live with this bad habit anymore and improve overall well being of my eyes, fingers and hands.

    Back to my original question,

    "I do not know touch typing with qwerty, can I still learn colemak?"

    I researched online for a bit and decided to learn touch typing. I have been trying it out for the past 2 days on qwerty. Yesterday I went the whole day with touch typing on qwerty although I was slow as a snail at about 10 wpm. I got some sleep and tried to touch type in the morning and feels like I have gotten slightly better. Now I can touch
    type much faster at about 15-20 wpm and even faster (Probably because I knew most keys by muscle memory) if I dont use my all 10 fingers and only use 8 (no pinkys).

    I am trying to give colemak a shot. Mainly because of the homerow key placements and less finger movement. And feels like a sensible choice. Since I dont know how to type properly anyway, I thought I might as well try it.

    I am a Vim user btw. If and when I get comfortable i can remap my keys.

    Should I continue learning qwerty or switch to colemak? I am ok if my productivity takes a hit. Today is friday so i have 2 days to practice till monday.

    Also, is it ok to use only 8 fingers instead of 10?

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 5,098

    Sure you can! I'd take the opportunity to learn both touch typing and Colemak then. I do suggest you learn to use 9–10 fingers properly while you're at it. Using your pinkies is going to feel harsh at first, but they're worth it. Pinkies are agile fingers, if not too strong. Some Colemak users coming from QWERTY struggle at first but when you get used to it you'll enjoy it a lot more. Taking the plunge into Colemak, it's worth doing it right.

    I don't remap Vim keys at all, since it's useful to find Vim on an install and just start using it without having to setup a config first. The arrows are entirely not a problem, and I use Extend anyway. Look it up on https://dreymar.colemak.org if you're curious.

    Last edited by DreymaR (25-Jun-2021 08:37:35)

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    • Registered: 25-Jun-2021
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    I'd take the opportunity to learn both touch typing and Colemak then.

    Will I be able to retain the muscle memory of both qwerty and colemak layouts if I learn both of them at the same time? I have seen some videos on youtube where some say they can use 2 layouts at the same time although it takes a few minutes to switch. Some even claim its too hard to switch back to qwerty after learning colemak or dvorak. I do not know which of these 2 scenarios will be true for me.

    And, thanks for the advice. I will check out your website.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Yes, you will if you want to. There are people who can fluidly switch between three or more layouts at top speed; Jashe Poon is the most extreme. But as for me... I don't want to type QWERTY any more whenever I can avoid it. It's so ugly and uncomfortable. I can type it at a decent enough speed for my purposes, by looking at the keys. I need no more, and if I have to type for a longer time at another computer I can always use EPKL or a USB-2-USB QUICKIE device.

    If you haven't already, read about those in the BigBag. Come to think of it, there's an article about QWERTY memory on its Links page too, if you're interested.

    Last edited by DreymaR (25-Jun-2021 09:14:18)

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    Your background is similar to mine (except for the part about being 27 -- I wish!!).  I used to type fairly poorly and make a lot of mistakes, and eventually decided to learn to touch type and Colemak at the same time. Qwerty makes it hard to type touch because the most common keys are all over the place, causing your hands to leave the home positions too much, whereas Colemak practically forces you into good technique.

    I'd also recommend disregarding entirely the received touch-typing "wisdom" about using your middle finger for the standard C location.

    If you are in control of your equipment, why not ditch Qwerty entirely?  I don't maintain it all, but on those rare occasions I need to quickly type something on a different computer, I can get by with hunt-and-peck. You never lose your Qwerty entirely, it's like riding a poorly constructed bike...

    For vim: Drey is right, use Extend!!

    Last edited by stevep99 (25-Jun-2021 11:36:17)

    Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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    • Registered: 25-Jun-2021
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    Thanks for all the advices.

    One interesting thing that i observed today is that in my workflow (in linux/unix) i feel that i lost some of the key combos like, `cd`.
    I can combo with my index and middle finger and now i cant.

    I think i need to alias `cd` to `c`, similar to when i aliased to `ls` to `l` on my qwerty layout. The first time i typed `cd` and `ls` with colemak today was so weird. :p

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    • From: Viken, Norway
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    I had to switch from typing `ls -lha` to `ls -lah` on Colemak, as the latter rolls much better.  ლ( ʘ▽ʘ)ლ~ORLY

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    • From: UK
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    raveensrk said:

    i feel that i lost some of the key combos like, `cd`.

    Probably because C is in practice a lot easier with the index finger, so for for most people, "cd" an awkward same-finger bigram in vanilla Colemak.

    Colemak-DH (or vanilla plus angle-mod) to the rescue...

    Last edited by stevep99 (25-Jun-2021 16:52:21)

    Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Yeah, CD is so smmmoooth now...!  ( のvの) c[_]

    Cmk-ISO-CurlAWideSym_90d-FShui_EPKL.png

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • Registered: 06-Jul-2021
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    I recommend practicing for 10 minutes every day for a couple of months, and switching when you've reached two thirds of your previous typing speed. Repeat the lessons until you reach at least 97% accuracy without hesitating.


    While you're touch typing many keys will be hidden by your fingers, so you'll have to lift them every time to see the letter below. It will also make it more difficult to adapt to working on other people's computer, whether typing in QWERTY or Colemak. I don't recommend physically moving the key caps because it will move the bumps on the keys below the index finger ("F" and "J" keys on QWERTY). If need help specially with COLEMAK you can practice typing with one words per minute test tool that will help you a lot.

    Last edited by kenya (09-Jul-2021 08:06:38)
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