Technology · April 30, 2022

How to get the Most out of your Computer Keyboard

There are dozens of different ways to use your computer keyboard, but some are more effective than others. Whether you’re a student, an office worker, or a gamer, there’s something you can do with your computer keyboard that will make your life easier.

Among the many accessories we use to get our work done, our keyboard is one of the most important. It’s a vital part of our workstation and is the link between what we do on the computer and how that work manifests itself. The keys are where we connect with the computer—they’re where our thoughts become data, they’re where magic happens.

The keyboard is also a physical object that becomes a part of who you are. Through its ups and downs, its triumphs and frustrations, you come to know it intimately; your relationship with your keyboard grows deeper over time. And through this relationship, you can learn about yourself and the ways in which you can better optimize your time working on your computer.

All computers nowadays come with a keyboard, but have you ever stopped to consider how important it is? It’s the main means of communication between you and your computer—but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. When your keyboard works well with you, you’ll feel more productive and happy while using your computer. Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of your computer keyboard:

For students and writers

One of the most common uses for a computer keyboard is writing papers or taking notes in class. If you want to get the most out of your keyboard while doing this, try using the arrow keys to move around in a document or up and down in a Word document. This allows you to easily fix any typos or errors you make without having to move your hands from the home row (the row of keys at the top of the keyboard).

If you have plenty of time before class starts and have a lot of notes for one class, it’s helpful to print an extra copy for yourself. If you’re worried about someone else seeing what’s on your paper, cover it with another sheet of paper so only the top page shows. If your professor allows laptops in class, consider bringing yours even if it means lugging around a heavy backpack—not only will it keep your notes safe from prying eyes and safe from damage.

Reassign the Keys

Most of us take the default computer keyboard for granted. We rarely make full use of these keys, but they can be very helpful. The top row of function keys can be especially helpful when working on programs like PowerPoint or Excel. You might not know that these keys are multifunctional—they can control media playback, change the screen brightness and toggle open applications like iTunes.

Some of these keys are already set to common commands, but you can go into your computer’s settings menu to reassign them to whatever you’d find most helpful. For example, I’ve set my F1 key to “Print Screen” so I never have to reach for the “Print Screen” button again. You can also use these keys to control music playback, volume and brightness without having to navigate through your computer’s menus.

Type with two fingers

The best rule to follow when working on your computer is to type with just two fingers: the index and middle finger on each hand. These are the most powerful and versatile fingers on your hands, which means they can type the majority of letters on a standard keyboard with ease. This makes typing much easier, faster, and more comfortable than when trying to type with other fingers like the pinky or ring finger.

While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many people make typing mistakes when they don’t follow this rule. They could easily be avoided if you would just use those two fingers.

Clean the keys

Give each key a good cleaning every once in a while. The dirt and grime on your keyboard can slow down your typing speed and lead to sticky keys, so it’s important to routinely wipe away any gunk that has accumulated since you last cleaned it. Use an inexpensive disinfecting wipe or a damp cloth and clean each key individually, making sure to get into the nooks and crannies for anything that may have gotten stuck in there over time.

Always use the right keyboard

First, make sure that you’re using the right keyboard. Keyboards come in different sizes to suit different hands, so if you’re not getting enough space between your wrists and the edge of your desk, it might be time to replace your keyboard. You’ll also want to check whether the keys are spaced far enough apart for your fingertips. Ideally, the keys will line up with the joints in your fingers so that when you type, you don’t strain or hunch over in an unnatural position. If you’re finding yourself making mistakes because the keys are too close together or too far apart from one another, it’s time to look at a new option.

Use shortcuts

Any computer user can agree that there’s always something new to learn about their keyboard, and some of these tricks can make your day-to-day life a lot easier. For example, did you know that pressing Control + Shift + Delete will instantly clear your browser history? Or that if you hit Control + Escape on a Mac, all of the windows on your screen will minimize? There are shortcuts like these all over your keyboard and they can help streamline your computer experience.

Give it a tune-up

Most keyboards now have membrane keys, which are built up of plastic layers. Over time, these layers can get ripped or torn, which can affect the way the keys feel beneath your fingers. A tune-up is as simple as removing the keycaps and looking for worn down spots or tears in the membrane layer. If you find any tears or missing pieces, fix them with tape or glue (or even with superglue). Clean off any excess glue when you’re done to make sure there’s nothing sticky underneath the keys. This is an easy way to give your computer keyboard a long life.

Treat it right

Treat your computer keyboard right by taking good care of it. While at it, take advantage of any extra features you have on your keyboard. If you have one that lights up, turn the lights on—it will make using your computer easier on the eyes and easier to use in low-light areas. If your keyboard has a “numeric keypad” (the number keys in addition to the letters), try using that instead of using the number pad on your regular keyboard or a calculator. The numeric keypad is often more comfortable for touch typing, and it can make typing numbers faster.

Include multimedia controls

These are keys that let you control volume and other media functions of your computer without relying on opening an application first. Some keyboards even have buttons that are programmable to do whatever you want them to do—for example, open an email program or start a web browser. More complicated operations can be done with just pressing one key—you might not realize it, but ‘Ctrl+S’ saves whatever document you’re working on at any given time. It’s a lot quicker than typing ‘Save file as…’, especially if you’re used to doing it the same way every time.

Conclusion

The keyboard is one of the most essential parts of any computer setup, and it’s easy to take for granted. But if you take a moment to learn about it, you’ll be surprised just how much there is to discover about your computer keyboard.