What Keyboards Do Programmers Use?

Programmers typically prefer to use full-size keyboards and models or brands that use Cherry mechanical switches.

Does that include every single programmer on the planet?

Nope, but that’s the short answer to the question – a more complete answer is way more nuanced.

So let’s take a look at what types of keyboards programmers prefer and why.

And even though I hate myself for saying this…the answers will probably surprise you.

Do programmers use a special keyboard?

Do you mean something like the Koolertron split keyboard?

I actually like the look of the Kooletron keyboard itself, but it does look like something that would have looked right at home in the absolutely hilariously bad movie Hackers?

That somehow having a split keyboard somehow makes you a better hacker or coder because it looks leet

So the answer to this question is that no, programmers do not use one special type of keyboard, but they all have their own preferences, including the types of keyboards they use when they’ve overworked. 

What type of keyboards do programmers prefer?

Even though you’ll see a lot of stock images of programmers typing on laptop or tiny chiclet keyboards, that’s not their preference when they’re really writing code.

In fact, a laptop keyboard is pretty much the worst thing in the world for writing code with. Or even English in many cases. 

Programmers prefer full size keyboards purely for the comfort factor and being able to type fluidly, while also limiting the number of mistakes made

Function keys (F1 – F12) are another “must have” for programmer keyboards, but a numeric keypad is not.

It’s basically a big lump of keyboard real estate they have no use for.

That’s why you’ll find a lot of programmers use tenkeyless or 75% keyboards because they offer them all the functionality they need but with a much smaller footprint.

Why do programmers love mechanical keyboards?

Programmers generally seem to love a mechanical keyboard as it allows them to feel and hear the keys being pressed so they don’t have to double-check that an input is registered.

Which basically means they’re popular because they’re loud, clicky and means the programmer is less likely to make typos. 

You just get a lot more bio-feedback from a mechanical keyboard. 

Mechanical keyboards are also massively customizable, allowing programmers to swap out the case, switches and keycaps for a keyboard, making it unique to them. 

That’s why mechanical keyboards are the “go to” for most programmers and coders but capacitive keyboards are also gaining in popularity.

What is a capacitive keyboard?

A capacitive keyboard is basically a rubber dome keyboard but one that uses a change in electrical charge between the key and contact to register the input, instead of the physical switch in a mechanical keyboard- very similar to how a smartphone screen works.

What’s the point of using a capacitive keyboard?

Apparently, programmers prefer the softer action, especially if they’ve been typing for hours on end. 

And they’re also a whole lot quieter than the vast majority of mechanical keyboards.

Do programmers use membrane keyboards?

Oddly enough, the Logitech MX, K and G ranges are popular with a lot of programmers, coders and dev types. These are membrane/rubber dome keyboards but they’re also very quiet and very easy to type on. 

I’ve used each of them and they are excellent but the lettering wore off the A,S,L,O and Shift keys on every single one of them after between 6 and 12 months. 

That’s why I only use backlit keyboards these days – it’s not snobbery, I just hate having to bin a perfectly good keyboard every 12 months because of faded key etching or lettering. 

Is a wired or wireless keyboard better for programming?

This is purely a personal preference thing. 

The latency (lag) that gamers complain about when using wireless keyboards is simply not an issue for coders.
Neat freaks are going to prefer the cable-free layout that a wireless keyboard offers, but luddites like me will go for a wired keyboard and mouse every single time.

Are ergonomic keyboards good for programming?

There are two schools of thought here.

The first is that anyone spending long hours using a keyboard should use an ergonomic keyboard to prevent repetitive strain injuries.

The other school of thought advises that you should exercise to build the muscles in your forearms to prevent fatigue and injury.

Some programmers insist on using ergonomic keyboards, and some don’t – it’s very much down to personal preference.

Do all programmers type fast?

The programmer stereotype you’ve all seen is of somebody furiously typing information into a computer. 

Or in some cases, two people furiously typing information into a single keyboard. Like these two legit infosec experts:

This is not how things work in real life though. Actually, this video made me laugh so hard I think I may have caused myself permanent damage.

In fact, most of your time as a programmer is spent staring at a screen, weeping softly as you try to find that tiny bit of code that’s causing your 2nd nervous breakdown this week.

So you can be a programmer if you type slowly, because the truth is that most programmers type in bursts and then stop to evaluate their work/debug.

Can a programmer use a 60% keyboard?

Not only can a programmer use a 60% keyboard but many programmers prefer them. 

They’re smaller, neater, have a tiny physical footprint and the high-end 60% keyboards tend to be very customizable.

Do all coders touch type?

Experienced coders will touch type but also use macros and shortcuts to increase their productivity and streamline how they work.

But touch typing implies that speed is a factor in being able to code well, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Touch typing when coding simply means you don’t have to look away from your screen so you don’t get distracted by the squirrel sitting outside in the tree.

Or whatever else is going on around you.

Which keyboard is best for coding and programming?

There is no “best” keyboard for programming, because as I’ve explained above, programmers use everything from highly-personalised mechanical keyboards to out-of-the-box Logitech membrane keyboards.

Programmers prefer keyboards that offer long-term service i.e. can sustain up to 100 million clicks and ideally comes with some form of backlighting. 

Here are some of the keyboards preferred by a random selection of programmers:

  1. Corsair K95 Keyboard. This keyboard achieved the number one spot for its responsive mechanical switches.  The keyboard features backlighting and there is an ergonomic wrist rest. The keyboard is full-sized and its features make it the top choice for a programmer, but is also designed for use as a gaming keyboard. 
  1. Razer BlackWidow Elite Keyboard. This keyboard has membrane switches and features an integrated wrist rest. It has programmable multimedia and function keys which are easy to change. This keyboard is almost silent so it is only a great choice if you do not need to hear the sounds of your keystrokes.
  1. Logitech G915 LightSpeed Keyboard. This keyboard features as the best for portable design. Mechanical, wireless with tactile keys, this keyboard also boasts the ability to pair up to three devices. Sturdy and durable it works over both Bluetooth or USB.
  1. Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard. This keyboard was featured as a bargain-priced, ergonomic, wireless keyboard. The unit comes complete with numeric pad and features a palm rest for comfort. 
  1. Apple Magic Keyboard. Full-sized with a keypad, this keyboard is a great choice for those preferring to use a Mac. While you can use a PC this keyboard can also be used with a Mac, to brain full functionality, it is best to use the Apple keyboard. The wider style layout with full-sized arrow keys will appeal to most programmers.
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