After a year of trying to love the Atreus it might be time to finally give up

I love the idea of the Atreus. I’ve had mine for just over a year, but find it too cumbersome to learn to type well enough for it to be my daily driver. I can type normal English words on the Atreus as fast or probably faster than any other keyboard. However, as soon as I try to do anything real world, like typing technical emails, programming, or entering a password… forget about it. I find it too painful and slow (or in the case of logging in, impossible) and end up using another keyboard. I’ve tried to force myself to use the Atreus full time for a week straight on multiple occasions but in the end, I just don’t think a keyboard this small is meant for me.

Before I finally give up on this, I’m curious if others went through a long and painful adoption period and finally learned to type well on the keyboard. If so, what breakthroughs did you have, and what advice might you have for me?

Cheers,
Michael

I think I’m a different use case. I have no problem with writing code or typing passwords.
Actually, I can’t type without the Atreus because I customized it to fit my typing habit. Maybe I am a slow typist (maximum 59 wpm when typing normal English even when I removed 6 keys from my keyboard inspired by this post.

Thanks. When you say you’ve had no problems with writing code or entering passwords… how soon do you think it took before you felt proficient on the keyboard to use as a daily driver? Within a few weeks of daily use? Or immediately (less than a day)? Or many weeks of practicing?

It took me about a week to become comfortable with typing on the Atreus since the time I received it. Ah, one thing to note is that I have pretty small hands so the tiny size of Atreus seems perfect to me. I guess it could be difficult for you if you have big hands.

I don’t remember exactly, but I want to say it took me a couple weeks of using it for lightweight things that were mostly alphabetical and less frustrating for me to be slow on (e-mails, Duolingo, etc.), using my normal keyboard for most things. That got me more or less up to speed for “normal” typing, but not programming.

Then it was a week or two of using it as my primary keyboard, but switching back to my old one for anything time-sensitive - if I needed to answer a question in Slack or write code quickly, I switched back. This was a bit painful, and punctuation in programming definitely suffered. I also did have to relearn a couple passwords, since those are so strongly muscle-memory for me, but after a month or two I was back to full speed on them.

It was probably another couple months until I felt completely fluent; particularly brackets and braces ("[]{}") took me forever to internalize, and I still slow down a bit when typing them; but overall I feel more comfortable on it than a full-size keyboard.

One factor may be that I previously used a Model 01 in the office; that was a harder adjustment, but I was also switching back to OSX there, so there would have been an adjustment period anyway due to the modifier differences versus Linux. So my hands are somewhat familiar with the ergonomics and general idea of using thumb keys

FYI, my pre-Atreus speed was typically between about 98 and 105 WPM on various online typing tests; I just got 107 (adjusted) on typingtest.com, including a few numbers and punctuation that are a bit slower.

Honestly, my main advice is to just not force it, and accept that it could take a while. Try to use it a little bit each day to adjust, but don’t feel the need to switch to it cold-turkey until you’re feeling pretty comfortable, and don’t be afraid to switch back temporarily as necessary. That said, YMMV; I have no trouble switching back and forth, but I know some people do.

Also, if anything really bugs you, fix it! I don’t like using the outer keys on the bottom row - too far away from both the thumb and pinky for common use. So I moved quote to function-semicolon (right pinky), and did a couple custom chords for escape, tab, and dash; I actually tend to use either the key or chord depending on where my hand is, which is kind of interesting. I also always hit space with my left thumb, so moved space over there, and adjusted the modifiers (ctrl/alt/shift) until they felt good to me.

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Can’t agree more with the last point. This keyboard is to be hacked. I’m still customizing it till now to serve some of my daily tasks.

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I have to fully agree to this. It takes a while with the Atreus. Incidentally, I had the exact same experience when I first tried the Ergodox. For months I used it on and off and constantly switched back to my Filco (standard staggered) keyboard. Eventually I designed a layout that just made everything slot into place for my typing and programming needs. Since then I’ve never used anything but my Ergodox. It took 20+ revisions over the span of a year!

When I got my Atreus, I knew it would be a challenge again - having way less keys. Most of my Ergodox layout translated pretty easily because I already used layers for symbols, a numpad etc. I had to get creative with the modifiers and shift keys though. That’s when I tried dual-function homerow keys using the QMK firmware on my Atreus. Sure, I can’t type as fast as on my Ergodox due to the dual-function home row usage, but I get very close (avg 75wpm), which is just fine for my needs.