Your Guide to 10+ One-hand Typing Options

Here’s a guide to currently available methods and devices for one-hand typing. If you need to type with one hand due to a limb difference, stroke, or other motor impairment, this guide will help you sort through your options for productive typing.

One-handed typing: What's available? Pictures show 3 example options -- one-hand touch typing, tapping codes on touchscreen, and a chorded keyboard in the palm

One-handed typing: What's available?  Pictures show 3 example options -- one-hand touch typing, tapping codes on touchscreen, and a chorded keyboard in the palm

This post focuses on options for people who need to type using the fingers of a single hand, possibly with a bit of help from the other hand but often completely solo. Depending on your specific needs, it might work well to use a standard physical keyboard with one hand, but you might want to consider various options such as one-handed techniques, alternative keyboard layouts, or novel methods of text input. The key is to make an informed choice to make sure your one-hand typing method truly meets your needs. In our last post, we described 12 considerations to think about when choosing a one-hand typing method. Here, we examine a variety of specific one-hand typing options that are available and see how they stack up on those considerations.

Before we begin

With so many features and products to sift through, it’s been a challenge to decide how to best present the information. I’ve included a lot of key points directly in this post, while giving links to more detailed tables and resources that you can tap into for further information or for future reference. I’ve tried to find data or credible reports of typing performance with the different methods, and have included that in the tables as well. You might want to open up the comparison tables for reference while you read through this post. These tables are also available as shared Google sheets.

Screenshot of document comparing features for the typing options reviewed here. See text for link to PDF and spreadsheet versions of this information.
Table comparing features for physical keyboards. Click to view all tables in PDF.

Please note that this listing is meant to be thorough, but there’s no guarantee that it is exhaustive. And the goal is not to recommend one option over another. The purpose is to provide useful information to help you narrow down the choices to determine products that may meet your specific needs.

Conventional physical keyboard

If you are using a Mac or Windows computer, consider using the regular QWERTY keyboard that came with your computer. This is the most straightforward option, and gives the flexibility of using any computer with a QWERTY keyboard. One key to success with this approach is to learn a method of one-hand touch-typing, placing fingers on home keys FGHJ and positioning the keyboard toward the typing-hand side.

Finger assignments when typing one-handed on a QWERTY keyboard. For a right-hand typist, the home row is index finger on F, middle on G, ring on H, and pinkie on J.
Finger assignments when typing one-handed on a QWERTY keyboard. For a right-hand typist, red keys are index finger, green middle, yellow ring, and blue pinkie finger.

Here are a few video demos of actual users, using one-hand typing on QWERTY keyboard:

  1. Lilly Walters describes the one hand typing method and types as fast as 85 wpm with her right hand. Walters states on her website that she types between 40 and 80 wpm.
  2. Young woman typing with one hand, after learning the FGHJ method from Five Finger Typist tutorial. Video shows typing, but doesn’t report speed.
  3. Someone typing 55 wpm on a 1-minute typing test (with no net errors). Not precisely using the FGHJ method but definitely touch typing with one hand.

Research data from AT-node shows 1 reported case in the literature, an individual with motor impairments achieving 29 wpm with one-hand QWERTY.

So the range of reported performance is fairly large (29 – 85 wpm), but it’s in the ballpark of typical performance of two-hand touch typists.

There are some tutorials and resources for learning one-hand QWERTY touch-typing:

  1. Typing Club offers web-based FGHJ tutorials for right-hand and left-hand. It’s free to use, but ads do show up from time to time. Paid subscription available for ad-free use.
  2. Five Finger Typist typing tutor for Windows and Mac. $85, can try first 4 lessons for free.
  3. Lilly Walters’ site with her perspective on one-hand typing methods, based on extensive personal experience.
  4. Doorway Online’s free typing activities for one hand. Requires Flash, so it’s only really compatible with a desktop browser.
  5. TypingTraining.com teaches the FGHJ method for one-hand typing. You can try it free for the first month, and pay $9/month thereafter.

Using the regular physical keyboard, with the FGHJ one-hand typing method, could be a good fit if you: know and like the QWERTY layout, need to use multiple computers/devices, share your computer regularly with others, like the idea of using a fairly universal option.

Alternative keyboard sizes

The reach from one end of the keyboard to the other can be a long one on a regular keyboard, Even with good mobility in the typing hand. Most compact keyboards are designed with full-size keys and key spacing, but they may have slightly less distance from the backspace to the ‘a’ key, which can make a difference with one hand. The OTs with Apps blog recommends several specific compact keyboards. For example, the Logitech K400R reportedly has an 8.25″ a-to-backspace reach, saving 1/2″ over my full-size Dell keyboard.

A compact keyboard may also fit better on the desktop, and give more flexibility in positioning the keyboard toward the typing-hand side.

I haven’t found any typing speed data specific to using compact physical keyboards, but my guess is that it wouldn’t be much different than data for full-size keyboards.

Alternative keyboard layouts

With good dexterity and mobility in your typing hand, you may be able to type quite well on a regular QWERTY keyboard, as shown in the videos above. But you might also consider layouts that don’t require so much hand movement and finger reaching– in other words, layouts that are specifically designed for one-hand typing. There are two primary layout alternatives that can be used instead of QWERTY on a standard keyboard: the one-hand Dvorak and a mirrored-QWERTY approach. Let’s look a bit at each of these.

One-hand Dvorak layout

You may be familiar with Dvorak as the layout designed to reduce finger motion on a regular keyboard. Dvorak’s original 1936 design was for two-handed touch typists, but in the 1960’s, he added specific one-handed layouts for left-hand and right-hand. In the one-hand Dvorak, the typing hand rests near the center of the keyboard, and can stay in that basic location and still reach most letters. (Learn more about the one-hand Dvorak layout and its rationale in this video).

A left-hand Dvorak keyboard.  Letters are arranged in 4 rows such as one hand placed in the middle of the keyboard can reach the most frequently used letters easily.
Layout of a left-hand Dvorak keyboard.

The design actually makes a lot of sense, and it does look more comfortable to use. Is it faster? There’s not much conclusive evidence one way or another. In the above video, typing instructor Linda Lewis states that, “a person typing with one hand can easily achieve 30 words per minute. Those who are very fast can type up to 50 words a minute.” In a 2017 study, 21 participants achieved 54% of their regular two-hand typing speed after using one-hand Dvorak for 3 hours. My sense is that one-hand Dvorak is unlikely to be significantly faster than QWERTY for one-hand touch-typists who have full dexterity and mobility in their typing hand. However, Dvorak may take significantly less physical effort to achieve a given speed. And if you have some limitations in wrist or forearm mobility, the decreased motion required may well result in a faster speed.

So, how can you try one-hand Dvorak for yourself? On a Mac or Windows computer, the layout is a built-in option. For example, on a Mac, you can choose Dvorak-Left-handed from within the System Preferences for Keyboard, as shown below. You’ll probably want a set of keycap labels to put on each key, as well (although there are people who type using Dvorak even though the keyboard looks like QWERTY). There used to be a variety of physical keyboards available already in the one-hand Dvorak layout. Over time, those seem to have vanished from the marketplace (Fentek Industries still shows one on its web page, but when I called them, they said it was not available), but you may be able to find one second-hand.

Keyboard Preferences dialog in Mac OS X, showing how to set the keyboard layout to left-hand Dvorak

Use of a one-hand Dvorak layout may be a good fit if you: want or need to reduce the finger motion and effort involved in typing, are willing to practice to develop good fluency with the layout, and mostly use Mac/Windows computers. For mobile devices (iOS or Android), I have not found a way to use a one-hand Dvorak layout (two-hand Dvorak — Yes, one-hand — No).

Mirrored QWERTY layout

In the early 1990’s, a new touch-typing approach, called Half-QWERTY, emerged as an attempt to combine the best of both worlds: use the familiarity of the QWERTY layout while also reducing the motion required to type. It does this by creating 2 layers to the keyboard, so that each physical key can actually produce 2 different letters. The top layer is the normal QWERTY layout, while the second layer is a mirror image of the QWERTY layout. The mirror key is the key on the same row of the keyboard, using the same finger when touch-typing. So the top layer J key is also an F key in the second layer, since both are typed with the index finger. Top-layer K is also D; L is also S, and so on. This allows the typing hand to access all the letters while still staying in the regular home position. For example, for the right hand, the index finger would press the J key in the top layer, as well as the F key in the second layer.

Left- and right-hand Half-QWERTY layouts on a standard QWERTY keyboard.
Left- and right-hand Half-QWERTY layouts on a standard QWERTY keyboard. When a key is depressed, the character in the upper left of the key is entered. When holding down the space bar, the character in the lower right is entered. From http://edgarmatias.com/papers/hci96/

With 2 letters assigned to each key, the question becomes: how does the computer know which letter I want? There are a couple of approaches to this. One approach, which we’ll cover more a little bit later in this post, is to hold the Space bar down to access the second layer. A more “auto-magical” approach is to let the computer figure it out, based on what makes sense, and that’s what Windows software from onehandkeyboard.org tries to do. It often succeeds! Even though the software is a bit dated, I was able to download and run the trial on my Windows machine. Then, to type the word ‘keyboard’ with only my right hand, I pressed ‘kiyno;uk’ and it translated it to ‘keyboard’ automatically. It doesn’t get everything right immediately, by any stretch. For example, it produced ‘will’ when I meant ‘well’, and ‘word’ when I meant ‘work.’ In those cases, you can hit the Tab key to get other words that match your keystrokes.

I’ve only tried the trial version for a few minutes, but I did feel like my knowledge of QWERTY helped me get the hang of the mirrored layout pretty quickly. It does not include any specific tutorial software. You can also mix-in typing with both hands at any time. A rehab engineer colleague used the paid version ($130) fairly extensively and successfully when dealing with a broken arm. And this trial software provides a nice way of experimenting with the mirrored QWERTY concept for free. If you like it, then you have a choice of either paying for a license (Windows only), or getting a Matias keyboard that provides mirrored QWERTY using the spacebar. I haven’t seen specific speed reports for this software version of the mirrored QWERTY, but it seems likely that typing speed would be similar to the data reported below for the Matias keyboard.

Matias mirrored QWERTY keyboards

Matias makes 2 conventional keyboards that allow you to use the mirrored QWERTY layout right out of the box, without any special software. For both options, the mirrored QWERTY requires you to hold down the Space bar to access the mirrored key. This way it knows for sure what letter you want without guessing. So when typing with the right hand, the index finger types J in the usual way, then Space+J produces the mirrored F character. You do need to have good dexterity for this semi-chorded approach, since you’ll be holding down 2 keys at once for about half of the letters you type.

The approach sounds a bit complicated, but a published peer-reviewed study conducted by the developers suggests that it works quite well for people who already know two-handed touch typing. After 10 hours, the 10 subjects typed between 41% and 73% of their two-handed speed, ranging from 23.8 to 42.8 words per minute (wpm). Three subjects continued for 40 hours of experience and achieved average one-handed speeds as high as 60 wpm and 83% of their two-handed rate.

Matias 508

The Matias 508 looks like a full-size regular keyboard, and it can behave like one, too. But it also provides the capability to do mirrored-QWERTY typing with either the left or right hand. You simply press a special function key to switch the keyboard between left-, right-, or both-hand modes.

Picture of the Matias Half-QWERTY 508 keyboard. The keyboard is full-size, allowing for two-handed and one-handed mirrored QWERTY typing.

Matias Half-QWERTY

The Matias Half-QWERTY commits wholeheartedly to the mirrored QWERTY layout, with its compact form including only 22 keys (15 of which cover the alphabet and basic punctuation). This provides more portability and a sleeker form factor for those who are full-fledged mirrored-QWERTY typists.

Picture of the Matias Half-QWERTY keyboard, with 22 keys and a mirrored QWERTY layout

The Matias Half-QWERTY keyboards could be a good fit if you have experience with two-handed touch-typing on the QWERTY layout and prefer not to use the FGHJ typing method. There will definitely be less hand motion and finger stretching required with Half-QWERTY, which may reduce fatigue and repetitive injury risk for some users. The approach does require learning a new pattern, and the keyboards are expensive, at $595. Remember that you can try the Half-QWERTY concept for free on Windows using the software at onehandkeyboard.org to get a sense of whether it will work for you.

Maltron one-hand keyboard

The Maltron one-hand keyboard is a conventional keyboard in the sense that you press a physical key to generate a single letter or character. Its physical design and keyboard layout, however, are quite unconventional. The main letter block in the keyboard is curved somewhat like a ski jump, with a large palm rest and and keys placed to match natural finger movements and spaced to match natural finger lengths. The letter layout is setup to make it easier to hit the most frequently used letters. This is similar in principle to one-hand Dvorak, but the Maltron layout itself is quite different.

Picture of the Maltron left-hand keyboad, showing curved key areas for fingers and thumb, and 2 flat key areas for function keys and other characters.
Maltron left-hand keyboard.

Maltron claims a high degree of typing comfort as well as speed. Their website states that, “Typing speeds of 85 WPM are possible with this keyboard.” This certainly seems possible, but I haven’t seen any videos or other data that corroborate this claim. It seems likely that typing speed with this would be similar to other forms of skilled one-hand typing, whether on a QWERTY, a one-hand Dvorak, or mirrored QWERTY layout.

The Maltron could be a good fit if you: need high comfort and injury prevention, type mostly at a single workstation, are excited by the challenge of learning the unique layout, and are unconcerned with unique appearance of the keyboard.

Conventional touch on-screen keyboard (OSK)

This is the mobile analog to the typical physical keyboard: the stock option that is built-in to every touch device such as an iPad, Android tablet, or Windows Surface. This also includes the most popular third-party keyboard apps, such as Gboard and SwiftKey, as they are nearly as ubiquitous as the stock keyboards. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on tablet-sized devices, rather than phones, but much of what follows applies to phones as well.

Picture of the on-screen keyboard supplied with the iPad, in the QWERTY layout
Stock on-screen keyboard built-in to the iPad.

If you have relatively small hands and fingers, the typical iPad on-screen keyboard may be a good fit for you when typing with one hand. On my iPad, the a-to-backspace distance is 5″ in portait mode, and 6.75″ in landscape, considerably shorter than the physical keyboards described above. The lack of tactile feedback and low force required (as compared to a physical keyboard) may be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your situation.

I haven’t been able to find any data or even anecdotal reports about typing speeds on tablet keyboards specifically using one-hand multi-finger typing, akin to the FGHJ method on a physical keyboard. Since an on-screen keyboard offers no real place to rest or find the home keys by feel, it might be that one-hand touch typing on a physical keyboard has an advantage over an on-screen keyboard. As a brief aside, we can look at data on two-hand typing to see if there is a physical vs on-screen difference, but it’s tough to draw firm conclusions. Some studies report an advantage of about 15 wpm for physical keyboard over iPad typing (see this 2012 study with 16 participants and this 2019 study with an amazing 37,000 data points). Others suggest that with enough practice, typing performance on the iPad can be quite similar to touch-typing performance on a physical keyboard. A 2013 study on elementary school students measured 6th graders at 34 wpm with the iPad (in landscape mode) and 32 wpm using a physical keyboard. In an informal study, a college student measured his own typing performance at 82 wpm on a Bluetooth external keyboard, and 75 wpm on the iPad in landscape mode. To him, this small difference was a surprise, as he assumed that his external keyboard allowed him to type significantly faster. The results led him to realize that he really didn’t need to carry around an external keyboard for such a small typing advantage.

Incidentally, this young man’s experience also highlights the importance of measuring your performance as a way of testing your own assumptions about what’s working and why, and for tracking your progress over time. Reading about average performance can provide some foundational knowledge, but in the end, the most important thing is how well a particular method performs for you.

Alternative on-screen keyboard sizes

Full-size tablet on-screen keyboards can be used in portrait or landscape modes, and there doesn’t appear to be much difference in typing speed between those. It is also possible to collapse the keyboard into a phone-sized compact keyboard, giving the possibility for typing with one thumb with much less hand movement. In iPadOS 13, the compact keyboard is called the Floating Keyboard, and you can access it using a 2-fingered pinch to shrink the regular keyboard. (By the way, with the addition of this feature, Apple removed the split-keyboard option.)

Screenshot of the floating keyboard in iPad OS 13. This is a compact keyboard about the size of a smartphone keyboard.

Are there any data on speed using one-thumb typing? Yes: a crowd-sourced study from 2019 includes mobile typing data from over 37,000 volunteers. The participant questionnaire didn’t ask about disability (unfortunately), but it may be reasonable to assume that most of the data is from people who did not have any motor impairments. Most people typed with both thumbs, averaging 38 wpm, and those who typed with one thumb alone averaged about 30 wpm. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the proceedings paper on this study as well as in more popular press such as this article from The Guardian. I don’t consider these data to reflect the ceiling on mobile typing (e.g., typing on an iPhone keyboard with two thumbs has been measured at 54 wpm for standard qwerty with autocorrect), but more of an indication that one-thumb typing can certainly be done at productive speeds and is close to what can be done with two thumbs.

Alternative on-screen keyboard layouts

As far as I can tell, there are no one-hand Dvorak or mirrored QWERTY layouts available for tablet on-screen keyboards. (You could connect an external keyboard to provide these layouts, but I haven’t seen the ability to change the actual on-screen keyboard to one of those layouts.) If you know of any, please let me know.

There is a third-party keyboard called Thumbly for iOS which could in some ways be considered an alternative layout. Designed for one-thumb typing, the layout arranges the keys in a fan-shaped radius around the bottom corner. The order of the keys is still a QWERTY layout, and you still tap on a letter to type it. The idea is that it allows a more natural rotation motion of the thumb to reach the keys. Its main focus is on iPhone, but its AppStore entry says that it is compatible with iPad as well. It’s a paid app ($1.99), so I haven’t tried it personally. It’s been around since 2015 with a few updates since that time. See this Macworld review of Thumbly for more information.

The Thumbly keyboard has the keys arranged for easier access by a single thumb.  Letters are in qwerty arrangement, but in a fan shape from the lower right corner.  The right thumb is shown pressing a key while holding the phone.
The Thumbly keyboard app.

Swiping on-screen keyboard

Swiping, or gliding, on-screen keyboards offer a magical way to type a word: start with a finger on the first letter, then swipe that finger around the keyboard, moving across each letter of the word in one smooth motion. Pick up your finger when done with the word, and the keyboard figures out what word you meant. It’s amazing that it works at all, and in fact it seems to work amazingly well. You can still tap out each letter if you want, so swiping is an extra always-available method, rather than a replacement for conventional typing. The motion is quite different from that required by regular typing — you may find it more comfortable.

Screenshot of the SwiftKey keyboard app showing the finger motion to type the word 'This', moving across the T, H, I, and S keys in one motion.

Swiping is built-in to the stock keyboards for iPadOS 13, Android, and Windows 10 touchscreen platforms. So you may not have to do anything to start using the feature and seeing how it works for you. Third-party keyboards like Gboard (Android, iOS) and SwiftKey (Android, iOS, Windows 10) provide a way to get a consistent on-screen keyboard across multiple platforms.

How fast is swipe-typing? In a 2013 study of QWERTY soft keyboards, participants without motor impairments hit 40 wpm with one-hand swipe-typing, after 9 iterations of the same sentence. Performance seemed pretty plateaued at that point, but it’s possible that higher speeds could be obtained with more experience or with more current implementations of the approach. These data are reasonably consistent with a 2016 video showing one person’s text input with swipe-typing at 44 wpm, once all the errors were corrected. (That video is pretty neat, actually — it shows regular on-screen typing (56 wpm), swipe-typing (44 wpm), and speech input (51 wpm), side by side.) The inventors of Swype claim speeds around 50 wpm, which apparently is possible but is likely faster than what most people will achieve.

One detail for iPad users: On the stock iPad keyboard, you need to first shrink the keyboard to Floating Keyboard size, then you can use swipe-typing (what Apple calls QuickPath). QuickPath and the Floating Keyboard require iPadOS 13 to work. If you use the Gboard keyboard app, you can swipe on the full-size OSK or the compact floating size.

If you love swipe-typing and want to use it on a computer that doesn’t have a touchscreen, you can. Just swipe-type on your phone or tablet, and use an app like Remote Mouse to send the words you type to your Mac or Windows computer.

Swipe-typing could be a good fit for you if you: like having your keyboard built right in to your tablet, have good dexterity with one index finger and good hand mobility to move it smoothly where you want it, and you have good spelling skills.

Chorded Typing Methods

There are several typing methods that use a chorded-style typing method, in which you use two or more fingers at once to generate each letter. The piano-like chords may be “played” on a physical device with a small number of keys, or may be interpreted by sensors built-in to a wearable device. Two old standbys for this approach were the BAT Keyboard (7 keys) and the FrogPad keyboard (12 keys), but neither of these is still available except perhaps in the secondary market. The following three options all seem to be available and currently supported by their developers.

The design of these three are quite different from each other, but all three appear to offer similar typing productivity (roughly 20-30 wpm for typical users). Given that people can type with one thumb at 30 wpm, and often faster than that with conventional one-hand touch typing, these chorded keyboards may not offer a productivity advantage (but always test that assumption by taking measurements on yourself!). They may be useful in mobile or keyboard-free scenarios involving things like virtual reality or smartwatches.

Twiddler 3

The Twiddler is a one-hand chording keyboarding that has been around since at least 2004. It’s now on its third design iteration, which has been available since 2015. This is a handheld keyboard with four rows of 3 keys each. Each row of keys is operated by one of the typist’s four fingers. 12 of the 30 character codes can be typed using one key. For example, you type ‘A’ by pressing the left button on the top row, typically using your index finger. The remaining characters are typed using two keys simultaneously — e.g., ‘I’ requires pressing the right button on the top row and the left button on the 2nd row. Twiddler provides some tutorial software to help you learn and practice the codes.

Picture of a hand holding a Twiddler keyboard in the palm.  Fingers wrap around the keyboard to press the 12 keys on the front.
Twiddler 3 chorded keyboard.

The website claims that the average person can type up to 30 wpm. There is some research data to back this up. In a study of 12 people without motor impairments, participants Twiddler-typed at an average of 26 wpm after 400 minutes of practice. Performance was still improving somewhat by that point. Not surprisingly, initial performance was quite slow, given the novelty of the letter codes and the typing method, averaging 8 wpm. You can see an expert Twiddler-typist in action in this video, typing at about 60 wpm.

I found a couple of reviews of the Twiddler that might be useful. These are from the perspective of users without motor impairments, but still provide some good info about how the device works and some of its pros and cons:

  1. A reviewer at Makeuseof found that the Twiddler didn’t fit his hand very well, making it difficult to use in the prescribed one-handed manner. So this is definitely something you’d need to try to see if it is literally a good fit for you.
  2. Jen Tong, a programmer and tech enthusiast, reviewed the Twiddler, concluding that it has some “rough edges…, but it’s worth it.”

Given that you generally wear the Twiddler strapped in your palm, it might interfere with your ability to perform usual pointing tasks with your typing hand, such as using a mouse or tapping the screen at a specific location. You’d need to try it to see how much of an issue that would be for you. The Twiddler does come with a small mouse ‘nipple’ on the top of it, designed to be used with your thumb. The Makeuseof review reports that this built-in mouse does work, albeit slowly. I wish I knew more about how well the built-in mouse works — if you have experience with it, please comment and let me know! In the meantime, keep this issue in mind if you are considering using the Twiddler.

Tap Strap 2

The Tap Strap is a wearable keyboard and mouse. The strap incorporates five connected rings, one for each finger — when you tap your fingers on a surface, sensors in those rings determine which fingers you are tapping. Each letter has a particular tap combination associated with it. So to type ‘m’, you tap your index and ring fingers — for ‘a’, tap your thumb. The website claims that you can tap on any surface and in any position, but reviews consistently suggest that a firm surface like a desktop gives much better success. Reviewers give the learning tools high praise, stating that the TapGenius learning app was effective and fun to use.

Picture of the Tap Strap 2 typing device, worn around the fingers and thumb of the right hand. The hand is suspended above a chair surface, ready to type by tapping fingers to match specific letter codes.
Tap Strap 2 typing device.

In terms of learning and productivity, Tap’s website claims that “the average Tapper learns the entire alphabet in 2 hours using our gamified app, TapGenius. It takes about 5 hours of practice to become a proficient typer (35 WPM) with Tap.” And Tap’s YouTube channel shows someone tap-typing at 52 wpm. There are several anecdotal reports out there outside of Tap’s developers, but I haven’t found any formal research. The Verge review: “I’m up to nearly 20 words per minute under the correct conditions.” AppleInsider: “I’ve gotten to the point of where I can comfortably type about 20-30 words per minute.” Perhaps most notably, an October 2019 message on the QIAT website noted that a college student who needed a one-hand typing solution was able to type 30 wpm within two days, and continues to improve.

Here are a few reviews of the Tap Strap:

  1. Tap Wearable Keyboard and Mouse Review. Video describing and showing basic operation.
  2. The Tap Strap keyboard is a unique, but complicated, solution to typing. Notes that the hovering hand position can lead to arm fatigue.
  3. Tap is a futuristic hand-word keyboard that lets you type with gestures. Notes that a good amount of hand dexterity is required.
  4. Typing with Tap, the wearable keyboard that almost works. Notes that it’s important to manually disable Tap when you’re not actively typing, to avoid accidental keypresses.

Like the Twiddler, this device needs special consideration with respect to pointing tasks, since it is worn on the hand. The ring-style form factor seems like it would allow fairly straightforward screen-tapping and may be OK for regular mouse use, although the strap might get in the way a bit there. There is a mouse built-in to the Tap Strap, but reviewers consistently stated that this really needs work to be a viable pointing device, calling it “frustrating” and “unpleasant.”

DOTKey

DOTKey is an app for iOS or Android that lets you use finger chords and gestures on the touchscreen to type. It includes Game and Practice tools to help you learn the letter codes. With an app like Remote Mouse, you could type with DOTKey on your mobile device, and send those keystrokes to a Mac or Windows computer.

A drawing showing how the DOTKey app automatically figures out how your hand is oriented to the screen.
DOTKey app. Combine taps and finger motions in the gray workspace to create letters. It figures out how your hand is oriented to the screen automatically.

I found a video that gives a nice orientation to how DOTKey works. The person who made the video is one-handed, and this perspective comes through in the video. One thing she notes is that you do need to have the device either flat on the desktop or mounted firmly in position for this typing method to work well. It’s not designed to allow you to both type and hold your phone or tablet using the same hand.

The developer claims “users of DOTKey have demonstrated one-handed typing speeds of over 60 words per minute.” A demo video produced by the developer is reasonably consistent with that (54 wpm). My sense is that this is an aspirational speed target for most users — it seems likely that typical average users would be in the 20-30 wpm ballpark reported for similar methods like Tap Strap and Twiddler.

Speech recognition

Just a brief reminder that you may also want to consider speech recognition as a text entry option. This could become your primary method of text entry, or could be a nice complement to using the hand-operated methods described above. Basically every platform, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac, now has some form of speech recognition built-in, allowing you to dictate text directly into just about any application. If you get more serious about using speech recognition, consider Dragon Professional for Windows, and Dragon Anywhere for mobile platforms. This costs real money, but Dragon tends to provide better recognition accuracy, and also supports a wider range of editing and desktop commands to let you do more by voice, if that is appealing or useful to you. Read this mainstream overview of speech recognition software for a good introduction to these options.

Next steps

We’ve outlined many of the key features for these 10+ one-hand typing options. You can download a set of comparison tables in one PDF file by clicking the button below:

Get comparison tables for one-hand typing options

It’s difficult to make general statements about the relative suitability of each one-hand typing method, since that strongly depends on the specific context of the user, task, and environment. I hope these descriptions and tables are useful as you sift through the options to find those that may fit your specific needs. Take a look at the various reviews and video demos I posted above. Review the considerations post and see which considerations are most relevant and important for your situation. This should help you identify a few possible solutions that seem like a good fit for you.

Let me know if the reports of typing speeds are useful to you or not. I included them to give a perspective on what’s out there, but in the end, I find it hard to draw clear conclusions. There’s so little data on typing speed achieved by one-hand typists with motor impairments. The main conclusion seems to be that a wide range of typing speeds is possible, and that any of the approaches listed above might be appropriately productive for your needs. Again I’d urge you to include evidence about your own performance as a major part of this decision-making process, and we’ll look at how to do that in our next post.

Could you take a moment to share your experiences with one-hand typing in the comments? Thanks!

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