one-handed keyboard

What is a One-Handed Keyboard: A Detailed Overview

A one-handed keyboard is a savior to many who wish or must type with one hand due to one reason or the other. If you have been wondering how the devices work, I am here to help you understand all about them.

A one-handed keyboard is configured to allow an individual to use one hand to type into a computer. It can be right or left-handed and useful to computer users who have one hand or have lost the other’s functionality.  Some even use them if the other arm is busy or as a preference.

Whether you were born with one hand, your other hand has a limitation, or working in a hands-busy environment where one hand is always engaged; a one-hand keyboard is a solution. Note that various options exist to meet the different needs of individuals, such as gaming and typing. Besides, there are wired and wireless keyboards. Here I seek to provide information and answer all questions relating to a one-handed keyboard.   Keep informed!

One-handed keyboard
one-handed keyboard: Source Flickr

Uses of one-handed keyboards

One-handed keyboards were designed to assist people who must type using one hand. Apart from people born single-handed, other medical conditions result in limited use of one arm. The conditions could be due to stroke, tennis-elbow, accidents, Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI), broken arm, peripheral neuropathy, Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI), Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, broken or sprained fingers, among others.

one-handed chorded keyboard
Typing using single hand on one-handed chorded keyboard: Source by Flickr

However, some people have the functionality of both arms but still use the one-handed keyboards. This could be a matter of preference or when the other hand is fully occupied. Besides, the one-handed keyboards have proven to be the best in number work and gaming.

Wireless one-handed keyboards

With the advancement of technology, many computer users are moving away from the wired keyboards. The trouble of dealing with wires on the table and connecting cables between the keyboard and computer physically is harder for one-handed people. Wireless keyboards are thus the ideal solution for those who opt for one-handed types.

A wireless one-handed keyboard connects to computers through radio frequency or Bluetooth while allowing the user to input data using one hand. There is no use of cables, making it easier for one-handed people to connect the keyboards to computers.

Whether to go for a wireless one-handed keyboard depends on your needs. You also need to understand the following advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Wireless one-handed keyboard

  • There is a clutter-free workspace as there is no wires to connect the keyboards to the computer. This is advantageous to people who want to type using one hand, of which clearing the table is a hassle.
  • Easy to set up even if there is a need to switch from one computer to the other. Unlike the wired keyboards that would require help for one-handed people to switch between computers, the wireless does so effortlessly.
  • When using a wireless one-handed keyboard, you get to position yourself comfortably central to the keyboard. This might not be the case with wired that limits you on where to place the keyboard while typing.

Disadvantages of Wireless one-handed keyboard

  • Wireless keyboards require batteries. Besides adding to the cost, it can be challenging for a one-handed person to change them when needed.  
  • There is a high chance of lag and latency. If you are a gamer, the delay in transmission on wireless keyboards can be so annoying, and this might force you to go for their wired counterparts.
  • Wireless one-handed keyboards are generally expensive, and the wireless types can even cost more than the wired ones.

One-handed gaming keyboards

With over 2 billion gamers worldwide, keyboard manufacturers have come up with ways to meet the gamer’s changing needs. One such is the introduction of one-handed gaming keyboards. The devices improve the productivity and overall experience of gamers.

One-handed gaming keyboards are ones designed with programmable keys with all utilized by gamers for a better experience. Unlike the traditional keyboards, the one-handed types get rid of buttons that are not useful to the gamers. Due to the ease of operating the keyboards using one hand gamers find them convenient. This as well makes it possible for one-handed people to play PC games.

It is worth noting that one-handed gaming exists in different types to suit various needs of games. As a gamer, you will have to choose the best one that suits your needs while considering the gaming industry’s dynamics. This is not a mean task. You will have to understand and put into consideration some parameters that affect its performance. Check them below:

What to consider when buying a one-handed gaming keyboard

Mechanical vs. membrane keyboard

One-handed gaming keyboards can either be mechanical or membrane, just like their traditional counterparts. Mechanical one-handed keyboards are very reactive and a switch under the cap activates it. This means that a small push of the keycap sends the command making sensitivity powerful.

Many people prefer mechanical keyboards since they are easy to operate, reliable, and durable. Nonetheless, some users complain of much noise it produces.

Mechanical keyboard
Mechanical keyboard: Source by Flickr

On the other hand, the user can activate the one-handed membrane keyboards by pushing the keycaps far down. The electric current needs to pass through the mushy membrane of the device for it to send commands. This means using more energy to press with the possibility of key ghosting, making the keyboard not a preference to gamers. Nonetheless, some people prefer as they are affordable and don’t produce much noise.

Number of keys

When checking on keys, you need to consider their availability and accessibility. Most one-handed keyboards come with 988 keys. The focus should not be on the number but rather on whether it is convenient to operate the available keys using a single hand.

Note that a keyboard with most keys does not mean a better experience. It might lead to clumsiness that could result in difficult execution due to minimum spacing and small buttons.

Programmable key options

What makes it possible to execute all commands when playing games on PC using a one-handed keyboard are the programmable keys. Though individual needs vary, you should ensure that you can customize the keys for a comfortable gaming experience. The keys should not limit you; instead, they should be programmable to meet your requirements.


When it comes to gaming, illumination is an essential aspect to consider. Die-hard gamers prefer keyboards with an RGB color spectrum. This way, one can customize the lighting to suit their individual needs.

Besides, the RGB makes buttons highly visible for a better gaming experience when playing under low lighting. However, if the illumination is a non-issue to you, one without will work just fine.

One-handed keyboard layouts

There are different layouts on a one-handed keyboard that make typing more comfortable. These include:

Dvorak One-handed layout

Dvorak keyboard layout
Dvorak keyboard layout: Source by Flick

The layout came up as an alternative to QWERTY keyboards to make typing faster with minimum errors.  These types exist for both left- and right-handed users. The layout’s organization is such that the hands rest on one side. This allows the user to reach all keycaps using one hand. There is less hand movement, and two-handed people who want to free the other hand can use Dvorak one-handed keyboards.

Chorded keyboard layout

Chorded keyboard
Chorded keyboard:Source by Flickr

These types of keyboards feature a few keys such that each finger rests on one. This allows the user type without moving the fingers. To send keystrokes, you need to push a combination of buttons as you would in a musical instrument. Though silent, the chorded keyboards have a tactile indication to let the user know when the command has been registered.

Half-qwerty one-handed keyboard layout

Half-qwerty keyboard
Half-qwerty keyboard: Source by Flickr

The half-qwerty one-handed keyboard borrows a lot from standard QWERTY keyboards.  As the name suggests, the keyboard is half the usual size and consists of the keys usually typed by one hand. If left-handed, the keys will be those on the standard keyboard’s left side and vice versa.

The remaining characters are mirrored to the existing keys and activated by depressing the space bar. There are sticky keys that support the modifier keys (such as capital, shift, control) to allow one finger to send various commands.

Maltron one-hand keyboard layout

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Matron one-handed keyboard layout is more conventional in its operation as it requires you to press a physical key to generate a single character or letter. The difference is in the keyboard layout and physical appearance.

The keyboard letter block is curved similar to a ski jump. The placing and spacing of keys are also done to match natural finger movement and length. A large palm rest makes it easy to position the hand to reach all frequently used letters without straining.


Indeed, the one-handed keyboards have made it easier for one-handed individuals to key information to the PC. Two-handed persons also get to take advantage of technology when one hand is fully occupied. Nonetheless, the one you choose depends on your needs and the layout you find easy to learn.

Eli Civil

A software engineer, entrepreneur, and keyboards enthusiast. I spend my time click-clacking on keyboards. About Eli Civil

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