Thumb key choices

Just got my PVT Model 01 and it’s great! Of course one of the first things I’m thinking about is what customizations (if any) to make to the default key layout, so that my fingers can learn those changes right away as they learn the Model 01.

I’ve been thinking for a while, looking at the Model 01 key layouts, that the default assignments for the thumb keys are a little strange, or at least don’t seem like the intuitive choices for me. In particular I find the choice of Backspace for the default position of the left thumb (R1C7) to be curious. I noticed that all the official layouts have this, and all the layouts in this thread seem to have left Backspace alone. Has anyone considered a different Backspace placement – or a different function for the prime location R1C7?

My thought is to use R1C7 as my Shift key – I use Shift a lot more than Backspace, even on a bad day :wink:. I’d move Backspace to R0C7, and rotate the Ctrl key currently at R0C7 to the old position of left shift, R3C7.

I’m also planning to try Delete at R0C8, opposite my Backspace position – I find a Delete key useful, and the symmetry of having it in the mirror position from Backspace appeals to me (the left hand has delete-leftward, and the right hand has delete-rightward). At the moment I think I could do without a right Ctrl, and just have the one at R3C7.

Another thing I might try is to put Enter and Tab on thumb keys – probably Enter on R2C8 and Tab on R2C7, mirrored from each other. I’m coming from a relatively standard QWERTY (Microsoft Natural), and even there I had the (probably bad) habit of only ever using left shift, not right; now having a Model 01 in person, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to reach any of the left-hand keys while holding R1C7 with my left thumb. So I’m fine with not having a right shift, and I could give that position (R3C8) to Alt. Not sure where I would put Cmd.

How about you? Anyone else considered moving backspace from its default position (or moving left shift from its default position)? Curious for anyone’s thoughts.

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I’ve also thought about changing the Thumb keys a little. Keep in mind this is only thoughts & theories for now, and will likely change once I get my Model 01’s and try things hands-on.

I do a lot of modifier chording. I’m planing to try using OneShot keys as discussed in the Chording and discomfort thread. I think the idea has a lot of merit. @algernon makes a great case for using one-shot modifiers in that thread and in his blog posts. And as I thought about it, I can definitely see it as being faster than chording. With that in mind, I want the modifiers in sequence so hitting two or three of them in a row is a quick process. So I wanted to place them all next to each other. At the same time I want to prepare for the possibility of doing conventional chording. I remember either Jesse or Kaia saying that the shape of the thumb keys allow for simultaneously pressing (i.e chording) two adjacent modifiers. Ctrl+Shift and Ctrl+Alt are the two most common chording combos for me. And Alt +Shift a close third. This layout should allow for easy one thumb chording of the first two, and two thumb chording of the latter one (as well as Ctrl+Alt+Shift). But again, I’m hoping I can take to OneShot’s, thus making chording unnecessary. If so, I will remap the second Shift key on the left hand to something else.

Again, all subject to change :slight_smile: Including possibly moving the modifiers off the thumbs.


I can confirm, if you place your thumb inbetween two thumb keys, you can easily and consistently press both. If you bend your thumb, you can even press three, but that’s a bit awkward.


I’m still planning to experiment with using DualUse modifiers on the bottom row keys on both hands. If it works without interfering with regular typing, chording up to four modifiers should be very easy and much less awkward than it is on a conventional keyboard.

I’ll probably try to set it up so I can toggle the DualUse configuration on and off, though, at least while I’m experimenting.

The thing about DualUse is you kinda have to pick either it or OneShot for your modifiers - you can’t have both. Right now I’m trying OneShot, but I’m also intrigued by DualUse.

I can also concur with others in this thread that it’s easy to chord adjacent thumb keys, which is cool.

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I intend to use both DualUse (on fingers) and OneShot (thumbs). I see no reason why I can’t use both, though it may require some modifications.

I plan to experiment with OneShot, DualUse, and TapDance and try various things/combinations. Those plugins open up a lot of possibilities. (Thanks @algernon! :clap: And @keyboardio for the FOSS firmware!). But it’s hard to know what will and will not work until I have a Model 01 in front of me and can start playing around with various ideas and combinations. The anticipation of them coming is madding at this point. I was fine throughout the whole campaign. But now that I know they are about to be manufactured, and I see the tweets/photos from people that have them (PVT), I’m like a kid shortly before his birthday!


I have space, Function, alt, underscore (macro), windows and menu keys on my ergodox, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My plan is to configure the Model 01 in a similar way, but I’ll work out the details once I get it

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I think I’m going to keep the Keyboardio thumbs pretty stock.

  • I’ll map one of the ctrl keys to be Hyper (cmd+shift+ctrl+alt; I use this a ton for global functions and app switching)
  • Function + Hyper to get something like Meh (for other global shortcuts).
  • Function + bksp to also be del.
  • Function + shift keys to get certain bracket keys (using TapDance for types)
  • also planning to experiment with OneShot modifiers!

For those of us not familiar with ‘meh’, has some description.


That is a very interesting idea. I may have to try this too, since I still haven’t found a comfortable solution for ()[]{} keys. Thanks!

Also interesting, and educational. I didn’t realize Hyper sometimes meant “all modifiers”, since Hyper is also the name of a normal modifier in X11. I’ve been using it for a long time in a way which is different than ctrl+alt+shift or ctrl+alt+shift+gui. The mods I recall off the top of my head are ctrl, alt, meta, shift, hyper, super, altgr, win/gui, and menu. Of these, I normally use ctrl, alt/meta hybrid, hyper, and shift. So for my purposes it’s virtually identical to the gui key.

Thanks for this idea too. It sounds like it might help make some things easier.

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I adopted the Hyper key after reading @Jesse’s link on the Model 01 KS page about the Space Cadet Keyboard - I mapped it using (what is now) Karabiner Elements and Alfred App - Mac-specificness aside, it’s been life changing. Alfred tells me I use this hotkey on average 600+ times a day, the most I’ve seen is 1500 times in one day! I had thought I really wanted layers, but I read all the posts on @algernon’s blog tagged keyboard, and now I’m pretty sure that ideas like this will be way more user friendly in the long run.

A new thought: New combinations are possible when I look at the thumb keys as an area I can chord with fingers. This means my hand is way out of the way of typing, and may lend itself to other tasks like going afk. I may also hotkey weird thumb key chords! Some random examples;

  • all 4 thumb-keys on a side: lock the computer
  • 3-left-most thumb-keys on a half together to toggle a different mode (thinking of the Plover stenography thing), 3-right-most thumb-keys to toggle back to standard
  • a tripod of the two end thumb keys + function to trigger some weird qwerty/colemak toggle layer (maybe just use Karabiner elements in lieu of layers until that functionality exists - my wife uses qwerty still)

This is too fun.


Just thought I’d chime in again and share some of my experiences after a few days.

I still like many of my remappings - particularly having Shift in my left thumb’s default position, and backspace to the left of that. I don’t miss my right Shift or Control keys, but obviously that’s just me.

However, I decided putting Tab on a thumb key is a bad idea, partly because it’s so frequently used right before or after other thumb keys like Shift, Space, (or for me Enter). I moved it back to a non-thumb-key. I also decided that the default of Fn-Space to get Enter was preferable to a dedicated key. Between these two things, that freed up two of my thumb keys, so I added back Cmd on the right hand, and added a momentary-Numlock (acts as Numlock only while held; reverts to standard mode when released) to my left-hand thumb buttons. I’m liking it so far.

I’m also experimenting with this. Since I’m a programmer, I use (all of) these keys enough that I’m not sure I want a Tap-Dance-based solution. But I also don’t like reaching for the 9 and 0 keys to get () in the default firmware. I like the positions of {} and [] in the default firmware though. Maybe I’ll put () on Fn-<>. (Or [] on Fn-<>, and () on Fn-OP where [] is by default.)


Why didn’t I think of this??! This is easily possible with MagicCombos, and much more convenient than what I use now to toggle my Steno layer.

Thanks a lot!


My plan has been to use SpaceCadet shifting (since that’s what I’m using on my current setup & I quite like it (that is, shift keys insert left/right parens when tapped)) for parens, then have the brace & bracket keys set up on the key that’s a tab by default, so that pressing it gives [/{ depending on shift, and double-tapping it for ]/}, since 90% of the time I’m typing in an environment that automatically inserts the closing character.


What I did (as another fellow programmer) was extend @algernon’s SpaceCadetShift plugin to take an array of mappings, and made quick-tapping the left/right ctrl send open/close square brackets, made quick-tapping cmd send open curly brace, and quick-tapping the right alt send the closing curly brace. Currently thinking that I’m going to make Fn+left_ctrl send alt/option for multi-cursor placing in my IDE. This is in addition to using the SpaceCadet shifting that was already implemented.

I’ll submit a pull request later this week once I get it cleaned up so @algernon can get it implemented in the default plugin.

Edit: pull request created, though the code is also available on my github:


Interesting! I am planning on trying using the one-shot modifiers for the other thumb keys, but I may try your enhanced SpaceCadetShift as well

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It might be cool to see if you can still do one-shot with this modified plugin. Since you can set the timeout per-key, you could theoretically set it to a timeout of, say 200ms, so a super quick tap would send your modified keypress, and a slightly longer hold would trigger the one-shot.

I might try that myself!


My changes to SpaceCadet got merged into the official branch, if you were ever interested in checking them out. :slight_smile:


Oh cool, thanks, I’ll have a look! Still waiting to get a keyboard in my hands to see how it feels :stuck_out_tongue:

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