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Changing Keyboard Layouts

In my last post I set a goal to switch to the Dvorak layout over the next few months and I’m looking to double my typing speed.  To do that, I am practicing typing on the Dvorak layout for a 10-15 minutes a day for a while and as my speed improves I’ll add time.  I’ve found that switching layouts is startlingly easy, so I thought I’d share how to do it (instructions are for Windows 7 and may vary for other versions).

Click Start and type “intl.cpl” into the search box.  This will bring up the Region and Language control panel.  Click on the Keyboards and Languages tab.


Click Change Keyboards


Click Add and select the keyboards you want to add.  I just added United States-Dvorak.

Go to the Advanced Key Settings


From here you can assign Hot Keys to switch between layouts.  If you highlight the “Between input languages” and click the Change Key Sequence, you alter what key combinations cycle between languages and keyboard layouts.  I removed the cycle between languages because I only use US-English, and I assigned the Left Alt-Shift to cycle between keyboard layouts.


The last thing I did is back on the General tab, I went to the properties of the Dvorak keyboard and I changed the icon to a keyboard with a red border so that when my keyboard is in Dvorak mode the little Language Bar icon on the right side of the task bar is a read keyboard instead of the standard one.





No for the best part, or worst part, I’m not entirely sure yet.  When you switch layouts, the switch only affects the app you were in when you switched layouts.  So, I can keep my browser in Dvorak for typing practice, but Outlook and Visual Studio stay in QWERTY.  I think this will come in handy in the long run as I can keep a say Outlook in Dvorak, and Visual Studio in QWERTY or vice versa depending on productivity.  Eventually I’ll switch the default…