Kinesis/ErgoDox Keyboard Layouts

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page shows a collection of layout ideas for Kinesis and ergodox keyboards.

Kinesis default layout is well designed, optimal for normal users who type a lot, but not for people with smaller hands and need to press Ctrl and Alt key frequently. (Such as in photoshop or emacs.)

Kinesis keyboard doll
Kinesis thumb keys. [image source flickr] ©

Kinesis Advantage2 Default Layout

Kinesis advantage 2 keyboard layout 53127
Kinesis Advantage2 US default layout. The default is optimal for data entry, heavy writers. The default is not optimal if you have small hands and need to press Ctrl and Alt often (For example, using emacs, photoshop.)

Thumb Keys Ease Ranking

First of all, it's important to know which keys are easier to press. Because you need to map the most used modifier key to the most easy-to-press physical keys.

The ordering depends on your hand size.

I'm average sized Asian male.

For you, the ease order of the thumb keys will be different if you have large hands.

Here's the order of the ease of reach of the keys, for me:

  1. The Backspace is where my thumb rests on. This is the most easy key to hit.
  2. Next easy key is the Delete.
  3. Next is Ctrl. To hit Ctrl, i move my thumb up a bit.
  4. Next is Alt. I move my whole hand up and to the right to press it.
  5. Next, Home position is next easy key.
  6. The most hard-to-reach position is the End. I need to move whole hand about 2 cm down to reach it, or, stretch my thumb.

Problems with Default Layout

The default layout is actually very well thought out.

Here's possible problems:

Escape is a tiny button. hard to press. This key is frequently used by programers.

Alt+Tab is hard to press. You have to expand stretch your left hand to press that key combination.

here's other minor problems.

If you frequently need to press Ctrl or Alt, such as with emacs or photoshop, then, it's a problem, because the Alt is hard to reach.

Also, having 2 Ctrl seems a waste, because with thumb keys, it should be possible to live with just one Ctrl comfortably.

If we consider only left hand's modifier keys, then

Ctrl+Backspace is hard to do with just left hand,

Ctrl+ and Ctrl+ are also hard to do with just left hand.

Xah Layout D14

This is my current layout. Started using it since 2020-03.

xah kinesis layout d14 2020-04-06 f9f7z
xah kinesis layout d14 2020-04-06

For detail, see Kinesis/Ergodox Layout for Xah Fly Keys

Xah Layout D13

This layout i used for 4 years, from 2016-10 to 2020-03.

xah kinesis layout d13 2020-04-06 m8g5h
xah kinesis layout d13 2020-04-06

The disadvantage of this layout are:

The IBM PC Layout

Xah Kinesis layout i47457 o q e j k p u i x y a d b f h m g t w c n r v s z l 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + , < > ? : " = . ' ; [ ] | - \ / ` Ctrl Alt Alt Ctrl Home Shift Shift Space Esc Tab PgUp PgDn

The design of this one is to be close to the IBM PC keyboard:

Here's the config file.

[2]>[7]
[1]>[8]
[7]>[2]
[8]>[1]

[tab]>[\]
[caps]>[home]
[scroll]>[vol-]
[pause]>[vol+]
[\]>[hyphen]

[left]>[lctrl]
[right]>[lalt]
[up]>[ralt]
[down]>[rctrl]

[lctrl]>[tab]
[lalt]>[escape]
[home]>[pup]
[end]>[pdown]

[rctrl]>[right]
[rwin]>[left]
[pup]>[up]
[pdown]>[down]

{hyphen}>{speed5}{-lalt}{tab}{+lalt}

How to Remap/Program Kinesis Keyboard Keys

How to Remap/Program Kinesis Keyboard Keys

Kinesis Keyboard Review

back to Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard Review

Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard

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