Keyboard Hardware Dvorak vs Software Dvorak

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Which is better, keyboard with Dvorak layout builtin, or software Dvorak via the operating system?

There are advantages for both.

Hardware Dvorak Advantage

  1. Plug in keyboard to any computer and use right away. No need to switch layout in OS.
  2. Your co-worker can type with another keyboard plugged into the same computer, or the builtin laptop keyboard.
  3. If you type Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, or using any input methods based on English letters, now you can type it using Dvorak layout.

Software Dvorak Advantage

  1. On Mac or Linux, you can use a layout of Dvorak with QWERTY shortcuts.
  2. If you have a laptop and a external keyboard of hardware Dvorak, and you turn on Dvorak layout for your laptop, the external keyboard will now type gibberish. You don't have this problem if all your keyboards are software Dvorak.

Switching Layout

Using software Dvorak, you can easily toggle between QWERTY or DVORAK, by hitting a key combination in OS, such as Left Alt+Shift.

Using hardware Dvorak, you can usually easily toggle too, either by pressing a special key, or less conveniently by using a dip switch. It depends on the keyboard.

For example, on Kinesis Advantage Keyboard, you can switch by pressing special button progm+F3 for QWERTY and progm+F4 for Dvorak.


For example, on Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, you can configure the keys so that when numlock is on, the keyboard is Dvorak.

Truly Ergonomic Computer Keyboard-207
Truly Ergonomic

For example, on TypeMatrix Keyboard, press fn+F1 to toggle Dvorak.


List of Dvorak Keyboards

List of Hardware Dvorak Layout Keyboards

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