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What is a Left Handed Keyboard?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 16, 2024
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A left handed keyboard generally allows left handed users to follow their natural strengths by placing the numeric keypad and directional arrow keys to the left of the alphabetic keypad. Some left handed keyboards have the alpha keys angled similarly to an ergonomic keyboard. Another version of a left handed keyboard has a mirrored numerical pad, which is laid out in reverse of a standard numerical pad.

Even those who aren’t left handed may benefit from a left handed keyboard. The left handed keyboard can also be used by one-handed typists. Some two-handed typists find that the left handed keyboard prevents or relieves discomfort in the hand, wrist, or arm.

Those who are right-handed sometimes discover that by using a left handed keyboard, the location of the mouse is moved more to the center of the work area. By bringing the keyboard closer to the mouse, pain or discomfort caused by reaching for the mouse can be reduced. The left handed keyboard also distributes the workload more evenly between both hands. With a standard keyboard, left handed users find that they must use the right hand for the arrow keys or numeric pad, or otherwise make an awkward reach.

Many special keyboards are available for those with disabilities such as physical or visual impairments. Some are one handed compact devices that use a method called chording, which involves the simultaneous use of just a few keys.

Other specially designed keyboards eliminate the need for more than one key to be pressed at a time. These keyboards, often used by those with severe motor impairments, have larger individual keys and overall measurements. They also require only a minimum amount of pressure to activate the keys. For those who are hearing impaired, a light flashes to signify acceptance of input. For those who are visually impaired, an audible click serves the same purpose.

Many specially designed keyboards, such as a left handed keyboard or ergonomic keyboard, help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI). RSI is sometimes caused by repetitive computer activity. Adjustable keyboards are available that divide into two alphanumeric sections that can be adjusted both horizontally and vertically. Each user can adjust the keyboard to his or her natural hand posture with this type of keyboard, thus possibly reducing the risk of RSI. The ergonomic mouse, wrists rests, and number pad and mouse platforms can also be of benefit.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1006037 — On Jan 17, 2022

If you use a full-sized keyboard with navigation keys and number pad to the right, and you center the keyboard to your chest, notice how your right shoulder, arm, and hand stretch to the right to use the mouse. Putting the navigation keys and number pad on the left lets you scoot your mouse more central to your body, with less stretching involved.

However, this can also be accomplished by combining a free-floating number pad peripheral with a keyboard which doesn't have its own number pad. They call such keyboards TKL for ten-key-less, i.e. missing the 10-key number pads; or there is the 75% keyboard, which also drops the arrow keys and shoves most of the navigation keys (Home, End, PgUp, PgDn) into a single column to the adjacent right of the letters. This gives you even more room to work with.

The benefit of this previous method is you can put the number pad exactly where you want it.

By anon1000682 — On Nov 18, 2018

I would like a keyboard like the old chord organ. I don't know much about piano,but I did like to play my my chord organ with one-key chords.

By anon230504 — On Nov 19, 2011

A left-handed keyboard is not necessary because the keyboard already has 60 percent of the keys for the left-hand. From a book I read that has all really cool information for Lefties, "Left-Handed But Not Left Behind"

By anon134320 — On Dec 14, 2010

I'm a CAD operator. I'm right-handed, so that's what I use to drive my mouse. Having a left handed keyboard allows me to keep my right hand on the mouse while my left hand enters my distances.

By yournamehere — On Oct 25, 2010

I've been looking into buying a wireless left handed keyboard to replace the left handed keyboard with USB that I've got now, but I was wondering how you choose one. It's been a while since I've bought a keyboard, and I would love it if somebody could give me some tips on choosing between all these new keyboard designs!

Any advice, fellow wisegeekers?

By pleats — On Oct 25, 2010

I use a normal wireless Logitech left handed keyboard, but there are some really crazy looking keyboards out there.

Some are even kind of curved up, so instead of typing on a flat surface, it's almost like you're typing on the inside of a ball.

And the left handed Dvorak keyboards are just weird -- I've got QWERTY too embedded in my typing consciousness, I don't think I could ever work with a Dvorak.

The same goes for those left handed trackball keyboards -- I'm too used to having my mouse. Though it is totally helpful to have the keyboard more oriented to my dominant hand.

Just like you can play a regular guitar if you're left handed, it's possible to type on a regular keyboard if you're left handed, but left handed guitars and keyboards just make it so much easier!

By naturesgurl3 — On Oct 25, 2010

This is such a cool idea -- I'm sure that left handed keyboards have been around a while, I just never thought about it before.

I do kind of wonder how much of a difference it makes, though. I mean, I can understand a left handed mouse, since you do move the mouse pretty much exclusively with your dominant hand, but I would have thought that wouldn't be such an issue with a keyboard, where both your dominant and non-dominant hand both do pretty much equal work.

Or do you tend to type more with your dominant hand -- I mean on a normal QWERTY keyboard, not a Dvorak keyboard? I know hunt-and-peckers tend to type with their dominant hand, but I would have thought that it would be more evenly distributed for proper typists.

Do you have any idea?

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