How to adjust your hands and brain to Atreus - any advice for newbies?

Hi there,

I feel as though this must have been discusses a thousand times, but genuinely can’t find anything. Please forgive, ignore or point me somewhere if it’s out there!

My question is simple really - how on earth do you adjust to this new way of typing, coming from a more traditional keyboard? I’m only a couple of days in, but speed, accuracy and physical discomfort are all so bad that I fear I’ll have to abandon it next time I really have to do anything at all efficiently. Is it really just a matter of waiting for my muscle memory to retrain, or is there something I should be doing to accelerate the process?

Relatedly: once you have at least partly adjusted to this, does it all go out the window next time you need to use a normal keyboard (built into a tablet case, for example) or can these brains of ours learn to switch between the two?

Thanks for any reassurance you can offer. I can really see that this may well be something I’ll end up loving, if I can only get there!

About a year ago I moved to the Model01 and it takes a few weeks to fully get used to a new layout. Recently I made the switch to colemak and after that I switched to the Atreus so I am not sure what kind of speeds I could get if I were still using QWERTY. Currently I’am somewhere between 20 and 25 words per minute. I switched a couple of days ago and haven’t noticed any mayor issues, I do have my layout altered to resemble the Model 01 to make the transition easier.

Switching to a regular keyboard from the model 01 never was an issue, now ussing Colemak it gets a bit tricky but as long as I don’t think about it too hard I still manage to type qwerty but if I have to think about it I start to fumble.

I would recomend placing some of the more used keys on the inside (like enter and tab,) and just hang in there using the thumb keys takes time to get used to but it is worth it.

As for discomfort, I noticed some discomfort when switching to the Model 01 but I think this was mainly because of some bad habits I developed over the years (like leaning on my right arm/wrist) getting corrected. Now with the Atreus I also have some discomfort and I think this is because the keys are higher and I rest my wrists on the desk, lifting my hands solves part of the problem so I hope they start shipping the wrist rests soon.


Thank you @dk88 - this is really encouraging and I really appreciate your thoughts! Great to see your layout too - I very much like the way you’ve set up layer 2 particularly.

The height/wrist thing is something I hadn’t much thought about as I’ve never had an issue or needed a wrist rest before but, of course, you’re right - the Atreus is hugely higher than the thin ones I’ve used before. I’ve ordered my first ever wrist rest.

Honestly, this is all I needed to make me really excited to keep customising this now! If only I didn’t need the stickers to remember what key was what, there would be so many more possibilities. Do you just remember yours and keep the keycaps blank? Or use the right keycaps for layer 0 and memorise the rest? Or maybe there’s some ingenious labelling solution out there.

Anyway, thanks again.

The brain is truly remarkable. About 3 year ago I had severe wrist pains from working for 2 decades with computers. I switched to an Ergodox, as I was told it would help - it did. So that was my first introduction to matrix/column/ortholinear (whatever you want to call it) keyboards. I actually found the change quite easy. It was less keys, but the alphas and numbers were all in the same places.

To help vary my typing positions, I worked one week on the Ergodox, and the next week on a traditional staggered keyboard. To my surprise, I could switch each week and I never hand problems, though it quickly became clear how much more comfortable ortholinear keyboards are.

In the beginning of this year I thought I would take it a step further and learn a more efficient keyboard layout, BEAKL-15. This time I was pretty sure I would struggle, because while I wasn’t at full speed with BEAKL-15, I would have to switch back to Dvorak to get work done. This constant switching did not help the quick uptake of BEAKL-15 however. Fast forward a couple of months… I can now type on Dvorak at 70wpm on both a staggered and ortholinear keyboards, and I can type BEAKL15 at 70wpm on a ortholinear keyboard. If I had to instantly swap from one layout to the other, it takes my brain and fingers about 30 seconds to settle, and then my typing happens without me even thinking about it.

It’s a pretty good party trick. :slight_smile: But now that I have portable programmable keyboards everywhere (work and home), I’ll most likely stop using Dvorak completely. The Atreus also means I really don’t need to use a rubbish laptop keyboard ever again.

Bottom line, keep at it! You also get used to working with layers more. I can imagine going from 104 keys to 44 keys is tough, but keep going, and tweak the layout to what works for you. It’s a life changer, and your hands will thank you for it.


The model 01 had the fn functions printed on the keycaps and I only made slight additions to the layout, like scrolling on q and e.

With the Atreus I have the keys setup for Colemak but don’t use the stickers. Since most f7nctions are in the same place I have most of it memorized.

I like the layer 2 setup but I tend to press the F key instead of the number key so I might switch that after a few days.

You don’t have to remember and use each shortcut only the ones that are convenient :wink:

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A very good point, @dk88 - there really is no need to memorise and master everything from the outset. I really like the fact that in the months/years ahead I can keep adding little extra details as they become useful.

And @graemeg, thank you massively for that - your experiences are just the reassurance I needed at this point. Particularly it’s helpful to hear I don’t have to entirely shun my iPad keyboard for fear of it interfering with the Atreus training!

Another day or two in, I’m certainly slightly better on letters and spaces. Numbers, punctuation, symbols and anything else still feel a long way off… but I persevere as recommended.

I hope this thread will be encouraging for others in a similar position. Thanks again.

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I recall when switching to the Ergodox, the numbers and symbols did take the longest, simply because I used multiple layers for those - the first time I used layers at all. The uptake with the Atreus is going a lot faster, because now I am used to layers already, so it doesn’t feel that foreign.

How did you get used to some of the keyboard combinations that are used very commonly? I can’t seem to find a good way of setting up keys/layers for some of the following:

  • ctrl + alt + arrow
  • cmd + alt + arrows
  • cmd + shift + ctrl + 4
  • hold shift + end

I don’t consider those frequently used shortcuts :sweat_smile:

Thankfully there is no good way to use thore shortcuts on a regular keyboard either unless you move your hand which basicly negates the idea of an ergomech.

You could try rearanging the keys but I doubt you will find a comfortable combination. If you really wanted to use those combinations I would recommend using macros and binding them to a custom key combo, this would require you to write a custom firmware since macros can’t be created from Chrysalis.

But as an example of the bindings, you could creat a new layer which you switch to while holding down space and setup something like this;

  • e - home
  • d - end
  • s - ctrl + alt + left
  • a - cmd + alt + left
  • f - …
  • g -…

I personally have the inner thumb keys (originaly the ctrl and alt key) to behave as home and end when tapped.

I’d recommend taking a look at the getting started section, there are some excellent guides to get you going and also take a look at the plugin directory on github, Chrysalis only allows you to use a mall subset off all the available plugins.

Here are some links to get srtarted;

And here is my post in regards to my first time flashing the Atreus, I ran into some isseus I had to figure out;

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The golden rule with programmable keyboards… Bring the keys to your fingers.

This is what I’ve done with my Ergodox (see url), and applied the same to my Atreus. I can type all those shortcuts without moving my hands at all. My left thumb triggers the navigation layer.

You have to set your layers in a way you can chord the mod keys with the layer key such that you can freely press the final key. Personally I found the solution in redundancy: I have both left and right mod keys in the bottom row.