How to Switch to a Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Three Methods:Making the Change on your ComputerChanging your KeyboardLearning to Type with the Dvorak Layout

The Dvorak keyboard layout is an alternative to the typical QWERTY keyboard layout that comes with most keyboards. The aim of the Dvorak keyboard is to make typing easier through placing all the vowels in the left hand of the home row and the most commonly used consonants in the right hand of the home row. This makes much more functional sense than the QWERTY format, which was arranged based on outdated concerns involving typewriters. Many swear by the Dvorak layout because it puts all the frequently-used letters underneath your fingertips, meaning you type with less reaching and can even less your risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome. By following just a few steps, you can decide whether a Dvorak keyboard is right for you and you can make the switch for good! [1]

Method 1
Making the Change on your Computer

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    Figure out what kind of operating system you have. The good news is that the Dvorak format is already configured into your operating system, so you don't have to download anything special to access it. Although QWERTY is the automatic setting, all you need to do is to change between the layouts. [2]
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    Change to the Dvorak keyboard layout on Windows. To change to the Dvorak format on Windows XP, follow these steps: Click the "start" button> Control Panel> Regional and Language Options> "Languages" tab> "Details" button >"Add" button (under "Settings" tab)> in "Keyboard layout/IME" scroll to United States-Dvorak and click "OK".
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    Change to the Dvorak keyboard layout on your Mac. To change to the Dvorak format on your Mac, follow these steps: Click on the Apple Menu> System Preferences> International> Input Menu Tab> scroll to Dvorak [3]
    • For Mac OS X: Apple Menu> System Preferences> Click on the keyboard icon>Input Sources>Click box next to "Dvorak"[4]
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    Practice switching between QWERTY and Dvorak. Once you switch to the Dvorak layout, practice switching back to QWERTY by following the same steps as above, but selecting QWERTY instead of Dvorak. As you start learning Dvorak, you may want the option of switching back to QWERTY if you need to complete a project quickly. Learning how to switch in between the two, at least while you are learning Dvorak, is a good idea.

Method 2
Changing your Keyboard

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    Buy a Dvorak keyboard. Once you have made the change to Dvorak in your operating system, you may want to purchase a new keyboard. Although eventually you will not need to look at the keyboard to type comfortably, it may be useful in the beginning to have a keyboard labelled for the Dvorak type setting.[5]
    • A Dvorak keyboard is no different internally from your current keyboard; the only difference is that the keys are labelled according to the Dvorak format. These keyboards can be bought at Staples or online on Amazon.
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    Buy a Dvorak keyboard slip. If you do not want to buy a new keyboard, you can just buy a Dvorak keyboard slip. These slips are fit right over your keyboard and are labelled according to a Dvorak keyboard setting. They can be found on Amazon. [6]
    • This is a good option if you are using a laptop because the keyboard is built in, so buying a new keyboard would probably not be the best option.
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    Put stickers on your existing keyboard.You can also buy keyboard stickers that stick to your keys. You can put each letter over the keys of your keyboard so that the keyboard is labelled like a Dvorak keyboard. These stickers are designed for the shape of the keys and will not come off.
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    Make keyboard stickers. If you are feeling crafty, you can go to a store like Staples, buy stickers or labels, write letters on them, and stick them to your keyboard. This is a cheaper option than buying a keyboard or a keyboard slip. You will also easily be able to peel them off to see your QWERTY keys if you decide to switch back.

Method 3
Learning to Type with the Dvorak Layout

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    Learn where to put your fingers to type. If you already know how to touch-type on a QWERTY, the same fingers operate the same keys. The keys just produce different letters. The home row is:
    • Dvorak: AOEU - ID - HTNS
    • If you lose track of where to put your fingers, search for the raised dots on the keyboard. In the Dvorak keyboard format, they are on U and H. Put your left index finger on U and your right on H to bring your fingers back to the home row.
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    Don't "peck". Don't use one finger to find and "peck" at the letters of the keyboard when you are learning how to type. Keep your fingers on the keyboard and use the same fingers to reach keys as you do on the QWERTY keyboard. Since you aren't used to the keyboard you might be tempted, but don't do it! If you type like that, you'll never learn how to type correctly using Dvorak and you will not be able to type quickly or comfortably. [7]
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    Start slow. You're just learning this keyboard layout, so it's not expected that you can type fast! Taking the time you need is actually better than speeding through and making mistakes. By being accurate, you are beginning to create a muscle memory with your fingers that eventually will allow you to type without even thinking about what to do with your fingers.
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    Print out a picture of the Dvorak keyboard. As you're learning, put a Dvorak keyboard diagram next to you. This will save you time because you won't have to keep moving your fingers out of the way to see the keyboard letters. It also might help your visual memory of how the keyboard looks.[8]
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    Cut back on looking at the keyboard. As you get faster and more confident at typing, don't look down at the keyboard until you make a mistake. This will help you to develop touch-type so you eventually won't have to look down at the keyboard at all.
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    Use online resources to learn. Learning the Dvorak layout will be challenging. Luckily, there is a wide array of resources available through the internet that can help you learn. Videos are an especially useful resource because you can follow along with them.
    • Youtube has an array of videos meant to help you learn Dvorak typing. These videos are free and readily available.
    • If you prefer a series of lessons, there are some good programs that teach Dvorak programs.You can do some research to help you find the best program for your needs. Make sure you go through lessons at a reasonable pace. Although the lessons may be easy, do them multiple times to ensure you have mastered everything they offer.[9]
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    Practice, practice, practice! Try to use Dvorak as much as possible, even if you hate how slow it is at first Practice will make you more familiar with the keyboard layout. Practicing for small amounts of time, such as fifteen minutes per day is more effective than practicing for hours once a week.[10]
    • Make practicing fun. Instead of calling a friend, talk to her on instant message or Facebook chat. This is a way of making practicing less tedious. [11]


  • If you share your computer with others or if you frequently switch computers, the changed layout will be confusing. However, on Windows XP, for example, each account can be set to a different typing layout--so use your own account with Dvorak if you can so you don't confuse the other. *Passwords can be a challenge at first, to eliminate confusion with passwords, use mostly numbers in your password. The letters A and M are in the same spot for QWERTY and Dvorak; they are good letters to use in passwords also.
  • Take typing tests and record your progress. At some point, you will likely notice increased overall speed as well as comfort. Positive gains will encourage you to keep at it!
  • Don't forget to learn the punctuation, especially if you write code. The special characters ; : " , . < > { } [ ] / ? + - and _ are placed differently on the Dvorak and QWERTY layouts. Even if you have never learned these characters by touch before, do so now.


  • Although the Dvorak layout reduces finger fatigue, prolonged typing can still lead to hand problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • It will take a very long time to learn how to type using the Dvorak layout. It will be like learning to type all over again. Keep this in mind, because if you are using the computer for work, your performance might suffer for the next couple weeks or months as you are getting up to speed with your typing. *Know which key layout you will use to type your passwords! In Windows, your initial login may be in QWERTY. Once you are logged in, you will function in Dvorak, including to type that same password again if you lock your computer.

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