How Many Keystrokes Programers Type a Day?

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Your whole day's keystrokes probably can be done in less than 30 minutes if you just type continuously.

Every keyboard review starts with “I type all day …”, but just exactly how much is your “type all day”?

You may be sitting in front of the computer all day, but the time your fingers actually dance on keyboard is probably less than 1 hour per day.

Contrast data-entry clerks. They are the real typists. Their fingers actually type, continuously, for several hours per day.

It is important to get a sense of how much you actually type, when considering typing advices, keybinding, keyboard layout, or whether to buy a ergonomic keyboard.

You can count your keystrokes using a key-logging software. [see List of Keylogging Software]

How Much You Type a Day?

Let's assume a data-entry clerk sustains at only 50 word per minute (wpm) in a normal work day. 50 wpm is 250 strokes per min, or 15k per hour. Suppose she works 8 hours a day, and assume just 3 hours actually typing (not counting meeting, lunch, phone, errands, interruptions.). 15k × 3 = 45k chars per day.

So, a low estimate for a data-entry clerk is just 45k chars per day. Based on this, you can get a sense of how many hours YOU type a day.

I sit in front of computer on average 13 hours per day for the past several years. I program and write several blogs. My actual typing is probably double of average day-job programers. From my emacs command frequency log for 6 months in 2008, it seems i only type 17k strokes per day. That means, i only type 70 minutes a day!

I was quite surprised how low my own figure is. But thinking about it… it makes sense. Even though we sit in front of computer all day, but the actual typing is a small percentage of that. Most of the time, you have to lunch, run errands, browse web, read docs, chat on phone, run to the bathroom. Perhaps only half of your work time is active coding or writing email/docs. Of that duration, perhaps majority of time you are digesting the info on screen.

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