One-handed use of the Model 01

Hey there!

I was originally very excited about the Model 01, but after a few months, I find myself not using it.

My main complaint is the difficulty of using it one-handed. I am often using my keyboard with my left hand with my right hand on my mouse. With my previous keyboard (a cheap 10keyless), I could reach all they way across the keyboard to hit keystrokes like Command-P with my left hand, click, then hit another keystroke. WIth the split design and single Command key on the left side, it is now ergonomically impossible. Further, I used to be able to type one-handed, which I can’t do at all anymore.

Am I doing it wrong? After a few months of using it off and on (mostly off because I do have work to do!), I am considering selling it. But I want to give it another chance! How do people use this thing productively? I have other complaints (like my typing speed being way lower), but if I could solve the one-handed use, I think I could work through the other problems.

Any ideas are welcome!

Thanks
Eric

I had a similar issue. I partially solved it by looking at the keys I used along with my mouse and moving them all to the left side. So enter, tab, ctrl, delete, esc, bksp, shift, home, end, pgup, pgdn, and space are all on the left, and so is the numeric keypad.

I also got a trackball that I put between the two halves.

In your case, I’d suggest setting it up with two command keys, one on each half.

But ergo keyboards like the Keyboardio are not set up to be used one-handedly for the most part. It’s a different way of typing, and it takes some getting used to. As a fellow one-hander, I share your frustration at times. But I haven’t switched back yet and I sold my old keyboard.

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At one point I remapped both of my ctrl keys to command: I think the base layout was designed more for Windows than Mac in that regard, I use cmd way more than ctrl.

That wasn’t a full solution for me though, similar to @fire I had to really pay attention to the keyboard shortcuts I actually used for a while, and then very intentionally modify them to better fit this keyboard. I had pretty good motivation because I’ve struggled with repetitive stress injuries for a few years now, and I could tell this keyboard would help with that (and it has).

One big realization for me was that a lot of my mouse actions could be done just as well, if not better, with a keyboard. Window layout for example: I used to do that with my mouse, but with an hour or two of work, I set things up so that I could position my windows much more quickly with my keyboard. Application switching and space switching were two other big things I did with my mouse, but now with my keyboard. Scrolling was yet another one, so I remapped page up/down to scroll for me. After just a month of using this keyboard full time, I’m using my mouse a lot less, and my wrists are very happy about that.

There are still many things, design work for one, that often require a mouse. But if you’re like me, you might often reach for the mouse out of laziness and habit more than anything, and habits change remarkably quickly if you just figure out a plan and stick to it.

One shot modifiers are also a life-saver when you do need one handed shortcuts. I have remapped my most-used one handed shortcuts to my left hand, but when I need one out of the blue (bouncing a baby in one hand, perhaps), it’s possible with one-shots. Tap command, tap k, not ideal, but it works.

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I’m really curious how you set things up to arrange windows, switch applications and spaces, and scroll with your keyboard! I want to do that.

So true! I forgot to mention this in my earlier comment but one-shots are so key.

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Mouse scrolling I do with the firmware, since that’s an option using Key_mouseScrollDn and Key_mouseScrollUp. I replaced page up and page down with these options. BTT can also do this, but it’s nice to use the firmware where possible. I’ve found the scrolling to be a little inconsistent between apps, but it’s servicable. At some point I may look into other options for greater consistency.

Switching spaces is actually built in to Mac OS, those shortcuts are just ctrl+left and ctrl+right, or you can use ctrl+1–6 to switch to certain desktops. If those don’t work for you, you may need to enable them in system preferences, under “Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control > Mission Control”. You can also rebind them there.

Everything else is done through the magic of BetterTouchTool!

For app switching, there are plenty of different ways to do it, and I based mine on this thread. Basically, I mapped right ctrl to hyper in the firmware (cmd+alt+ctrl+shift with one-shot), and within BTT set up shortcuts that open (or switch to) my most commonly used apps. hyper+f for Firefox, hyper+o for OmniFocus, hyper+s for Sublime Text, etc. The nice thing about using hyper is you don’t have to worry about overwriting anything, so you can use whatever shortcut makes the most sense to you.

As for window switching, you can set up “Snap areas” in BTT that are triggerable via hotkey, so I set up the 6 different window positions that I tend to use, and I use “hyper+1–6” to snap the active application to that position. These areas are also tied to certain screens, so if you have multiple monitors, this method is way faster than drag-and-dropping. This was a big upgrade for me: I’ve tried numerous window management apps in the past, and this is better than all of them. I don’t need any bells and whistles, just a way to snap everything into place quickly and effortlessly.

I’m actually currently working on a series of articles that better explain how to do this with BTT, but I’ve only published the first article so far. If either of you want more detail, I will have all the details written up there in a few weeks :slight_smile:

In any case, this may sound like a lot of work, but it’s definitely been worth it for me. I’m using my computer much more efficiently now, experiencing less pain in my arms, and able to focus that much more on my work. I won’t be going back to a regular keyboard anytime soon.

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My opinion is that using one hand without changing the layout on Keyboardio (or any other split keyboard) will be frustrating. If you’re really proficient with one-hand typing on a standard keyboard, and want to keep typing that way a lot, Keyboardio probably isn’t for you. But, if you’re willing to make some layout changes, Keyboardio is the best for one-handed typing. Here’s my layout and a few other options.

  1. My layout took about 2 months of practice to learn. I feel it’s fast and comfortable. I type about 60 wpm on it. (If I need to do long stretches of typing, I switch to two-handed Qwerty and type about 75 wpm.) My one-handed layout has all keys on the left side. It has three layers. First layer is all 26 letters, 2nd layer is numbers, punctuation, and navigation keys. 3rd layer is function keys. I switch from the first to second layer by holding the palm key. I can also lock the 2nd or 3rd layer with other keys. I use my left thumb for a layer lock key, enter, space, and backspace. The letters on the first layer are laid out like this:
    & F P D W Q
    Y U O R S L X
    I A E T N H
    Z G K C M V J
    My home row is AETN. So I use my middle finger on DRTC. The layout is based on a Maltron left-handed keyboard. I use a Logitech G600 mouse with shift on the ring finger and ctrl, alt, win, del on the thumb.

  2. This idea would probably take more like 2 weeks to learn. You could either “copy” or “mirror” the right side of the keyboard using a second layer. So assuming you use Qwerty and “copied”, your second layer would look like this:
    6 7 8 9 0
    Y U I O P
    etc.
    If you mirrored, it would look like this:
    0 9 8 7 6
    P O I U Y
    etc.
    There’s some software to do this, but you can reprogram the Keyboardio easily too.

  3. You could use the “mouse” keys on the Keyboardio and ditch your mouse. This could take a while to learn though. I haven’t tried it because it seems slower than using a mouse.

If you decide to use a new layout and need a place to practice, I like keybr.com. It’s free and the software adds only a few letter at a time.

Feel free to ask me any questions.

Best Regards,
David

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From the brief description of you Model01 usage I suggest you should either sell it or invest time in changing the way you interact with the computer, i.e touch typing with two hands and driving your apps and operating system from the keyboard.

Just changing a few keys on the layout doesn’t seem sufficient a change in your case to make effective use of the Model01. If you’re not touch typing then not sure why you would buy a Model01.

I now have 3 Model01 keyboards as I found it such a boost to productivity and far more comfortable when spending all day at the keyboard.

I use Ubuntu desktop as it’s easy to use exclusively by the keyboard. The same goes for my main editor, Spacemacs in Evil model. Model01 is perfect for vim style editing. Almost all my other software is keyboard driven, so rarely use the mouse. I found this much faster and more accurate approach.

The way the keys are layed out and sculpted is perfect for two handed touch typing and my typing speed has got even faster. It perfect for keeping my hands centred on the keyboard. The layer system complements this approach too, providing access to more keys without having to move my hands around.

On the rare occasion I use a mouse, e.g creating graphics in Inkscape or scene layouts in OBS, I use a trackball. This is much more ergonomic than a mouse, especially with an ultrawide external monitor.

I hope you decide to enhance the way you interact with your computer and make the most out of the model 01. It has definitely been worth it to me.

The Suggestion from David is a good one.
You can also look at the Neo Layout, though optimized for german, it’s auto hot key helper program has a „one handed mode“ which is essentially that what David describes. I think a custom key map will help you most for one handed typing. And yes, it will need a fair amount of training time.

Neo Wiki is currently down, therefore archive link.
http://web.archive.org/web/20170505023141/http://wiki.neo-layout.org/wiki/Neo%20unter%20Windows%20einrichten/NeoVars

Ein-Hand-Modus (M3+F10)
Ermöglicht das bequeme Tippen ausschließlich mit der rechten Hand. Die Buchstaben unter der rechten Hand werden bei gedrückter Leertaste spiegelbildlich zu den Buchstaben unter der linken Hand. Ein Nebeneffekt ist, dass es somit beim Festhalten von Space keine wiederholten Leerzeichen mehr gibt.

Translates to „When one hand mode (right hand) is activated press and hold the space key to mirror the keys from the left side to the right hand. Minor drawback: You can no longer enter multiple spaces with holding space.“

Thanks, @fire. I guess I should customize it, though that’s disappointing. Buying this was a mistake. I didn’t know I’d be buying into a lifestyle of customization!

Thanks @WebInspect.

I use Cmd, Ctrl, Alt, and Shift in multiple chords, mostly with my left hand. I’m thinking about moving modifier around so that I can chord more easily. Having them all as thumb keys probably won’t work. I rarely use modifiers on the right hand.

I use some Adobe products, and there the mouse is the primary input. I use the keyboard to select different tools and apply commands. Those often are mnemonic, so for example the Pen tool uses P as a shortcut. With my hand on the mouse and my left hand on home row, it’s a cross-body stretch to get to the P. That’s definitely not ergonomic. And I don’t think it’s even possible to do a Shift-P with my left hand.

Other than that, I’m pretty set up to not reach for my mouse for window positioning, etc. However, the shortcuts I have are very awkward now. I’ll have to revisit them.

Thanks again!
Eric

The “mirrored” layout described above, is sometimes known as “Half-QWERTY”

It was originally designed by Edgar Matias, who designed the keyswitches the Model 01 uses. It was patented, but the patent has expired and Edgar has said he’s happy to see other folks implement it. We built a quick implementation for a customer who had had hand surgery.

I’ve attached a sketch here.

HALFQwerty.ino (22.0 KB)

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Hey @jr0cket, great to see you in this community as well!

I do touch type when I’m writing. But I do a significant amount of work in apps that are mouse-oriented, like Adobe InDesign.

What’s the secret? My wrists hurt way more when I type on this thing. I’ve tried a variety of positions. It seems that it’s the amount of force I have to use to press the keys. I’m used to a chicklet keyboard where a light touch is enough, and I get a variety of hand movements. With the M01, I feel like my hands are locked into 1 position. Shooting pains since I started using it. What’s the secret?

Well, I mostly use the keyboard already, except in apps where mousing is required. My hand does not hurt while using a mouse. I’m more concerned about having to switch back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard. Before, I could use both without switching back and forth (which we know is slow).

I also find chording for Emacs to be a challenge with the thumb key arrangement. But I’m willing to remap for that.

Thanks
Eric

I use a tented position with a wide split which works well when I am either sitting or standing at my desk. Practicing correct hand placement when typing will help you type faster and take pressure of your wrists (they shouldn’t really be touching the keyboard). Having a wide split placement also keeps my shoulders in a correct anatomical position, so has actually relieved the lower back pain I used to get when at the computer all day.

Google Photos

The Model01 is incredibly flexible in configuration, not just the key layouts and layers, but the positions where you can use it. See the many threads in this forum about tenting, for example Custom Mounts - What are your ideas?

For one handed use, then adding keybindings on a Model01 layer should be able to compensate for your missing hand (you have 32 layers). You could easily have 50 additional keybindings just by defining a new layer. For example, creating a layer that represents 95% of the right hand keyboard, which you can use from just your left hand. That way you can keep the keyboard as separated as you wish and drive both sides from one.

You can also move the mouse using the fn key and wasd and mouse click with fn and f.

I use a trackpad so I can keep it right next to the keyboard, especially when standing at my desk
Google Photos

I learned to type on a mechanical typewriter, so I guess my fingers just have strength. I cycle a lot, so that helps with wrist strength. Using ‘hand grips’ is a good way to increase hand and finger strength.

Hi @ericnormand, @jr0cket,

Good to see Clojure programmers here!

I found silicone wrist pads, similar to these:
https://www.amazon.com/GRIFITI-Notebook-Silicone-Reposition-Travelling/dp/B073W1RYGJ/?th=1
to be the biggest improvement to comfort. It’s a small change that made a huge difference for me.

Thanks for all the replies. People keep talking about flexibility and correct positioning. However, I’ve never really felt acute pain typing before I switched to the M01. Only slightly when I’ve done a lot of typing over multiple days. I’ve never had to worry about positioning or splits or tenting. And now apparently I do, or the M01 is worse than a $30 logitech for me. My question is how do I go about finding a good position? Everyone seems to have different preferences, so the idea of a “correct” position seems impossible. And everything I’ve tried so far eventually starts to hurt, but not at first, so I can’t just do what feels comfortable.

TL;DR
I tried alot of things to correctly use the keyboard.
- Overall position on your desktop is the most important thing and is, i.m.o, the first thing to check when you want to get rid of pain (even in hands).
- Customization for one hand usage is one of the strength of the M01. Using it Vanilla is, i.m.o, not worth the investment (in time and money).
- Keep in mind the different functions you can use the the keyboard, tap dance, leader key, dual usage, one shot…
- Don’t be shy, use those layers for per application customizations!

I did try alot of different positionning before finding one that fit me. I also used to feel pain on hands when using the keyboard.

The positioning that fits me is splitted M01 without octofeet, flat into the desktop, I lay my wirsts on the wood. A rather unspectacular setup but it works for me. Knowing that, here is my 2 cents about adapting to this keyboard:

Firstly, I do believe that the Fn keys played a role on hand discomfort at first. Not being used to slightly rotate the hand to not hitting these Fn, I realized that I tensed my hands at first, this would be better the more I used the keyboard (this tension was also due to the ortho layout, when I was first missing keys).
I don’t advice you to persevere if you feel pain but I went cold turkey about this keyboard with long typing trainer session to overcome this barrier. Not fun but I think it’s better to get rid of these hassle a.s.a.p instead of having a persistent frustration.

Secondly, I focused too much on hand placement on the keyboard but the huge game changer was updating my whole body positionning w.r.t the desk. Elbow 90 degrees, screen height…
In fact I had to update these factor because the M01 is very thick, especially with its octo feet, it means you have to find a way to keep good position having your keyboard higher than normal.

For the one hand usage, I think customization is the key (yeah, maybe not you want to hear). In fact, these extra keys under the thumb are what makes customization so interesting for one hand usage on this keyboard.

I came up with an approach I’m satisfied with which use alot of leader keys. More details on my blog if you are interested.

The missing link if you want to go to the customization route is a thing to apply/remove layer automatically. I made one for windows, but I don’t know if there is one for mac.

Definitely disagree! No need to touch type to enjoy the Model 1!!

The trigger is when an application gains focus, through alt-tabbing or any other mean.
For more information about the tool, see there https://community.keyboard.io/t/integrating-keyboard-io-with-the-os-windows/3331