Switching to Colemak – My ColemaP

During 2014 I decided to switch to Colemak keyboard layout. I just want now to give a brief overview of the process, and where I am right now. Here are a few pointers if you want to try it yourself.

ColemaP Keyboard Layout, Colemak derivative

Switching keyboard layouts is not easy. Many people give up and stick to qwerty forever. It is dumb but at least not as dumb as the old Portuguese hcesar keyboard layout.

COLEMAK OFFERS THE BEST OF TWO WORLDS, fewer keys change place—for example shortcuts keys like copy and paste stay in the same keyboard location—and more words are typed using the home row with less finger travelling.

PRACTICE. Typing fast is mainly a matter of practice and finger memory. I used Amphetype and Typeracer to improve over time. In Amphetype I downloaded a book from The Gutenberg Project and read it by typing it through.

I MADE SOME CHANGES to the original Colemak keyboard that have nothing to do with letters. I changed the numbers 6–0 to have the symbols of shifted 1–5 !@#$% that are very useful for programming, twitter, emails, latex, etc… and I didn’t want do be using shift to type them. I put 0 to the left of 1 and put 6–9 as shifted 1–4. I now need to press shift to enter those numbers, but I can use the number pad on the right of the keyboard. I AM STILL UNDECIDED ABOUT keeping this half system or to use the french azerty scheme of inverting all the numbers and shifted symbols (ColemaP figure above) — I used Ukelele for remapping Colemak to my version that I call ColemaP

DEFINE the caps lock key as a backspace. Even if you are still using qwerty. The caps lock is useless and having the backspace key on your left pinky is great. It takes some time to get used to but not having to rise and extend your right hand to reach the backspace is a time saver.

REVERTING BACK to qwerty is very easy as you don’t forget it that quickly. You lose some speed on qwerty but nothing that is that problematic. And when you go back you really feel it in your fingers how slow that layout is.