They tell me touchscreens are taking over the world, and Windows 8 is going to be composed mainly of huge brightly colored tiles, easy to hit with a fat finger (or your nose). Until that happens, I’ll stick to my trusty keyboard (and Colemak, my layout of choice). But having a keyboard (and even a nice layout) is just not going to cut it – if you use a computer for a living, you need to type like a pro.
I’ve collected several gems from around the Web, all free, designed to help you figure out how fast (or slow) you currently type, and of course, get even better at this all-important basic computer skill.
Typing Test – KeyHero
To start things off, let’s find out how fast you type. For that, you can try using KeyHero’s Typing Test. It looks like this:
KeyHero presents you with a ready-made text, which you are to type with impeccable accuracy. If you make a mistake, it is marked, and you need to go back and correct it. The texts tend to be complex, and I even caught one that was missing some words. So my advice would be not to judge yourself after just one test; try several tests with a few different texts, and look at the average of your scores. Speaking of scores, this is what they look like:
That’s for a single session. Results for multiple sessions are shown like this:
The top graph shows WPM, words per minute, so you can see I am getting faster just by playing with KeyHero (started at around 81 WPM in the first test, and the last one was 99.2 WPM). The bottom graph shows common types of typing mistakes, so you can analyze your typing habits. I definitely have a case of bad ordering in these three tests – you can see how this type of error just gets worse and worse with each passing test.
Type Fu is another free utility, but it tries to do a bit more than just gauge your current performance. The main screen looks like this:
It’s a tiny screenshot but you can see the general layout. At the top of the screen is a bar showing the current lesson, as well as several buttons leading to different stats. In the middle there’s a phrase you’re supposed to type, and at the bottom there’s a keyboard (multiple layouts supported, including Dvorak and Colemak), as well as a hand diagram showing what finger you’re supposed to be using.
Once you start a lesson, the display looks like this:
You can see your errors in red, as well as your current progress through the lesson. Since I love graphs, here’s what the speed chart looks like:
The whole thing feels somewhat like a desktop app, and there are also cool typewriter-like sound effects played while you type. Lots of fun to use.
This next one is actually a Chrome add-on. If you like retro-style “aliens falling from the sky” games, you might enjoy typing game. Here’s what a session in progress looks like:
There’s not much to it, really. Aliens fall down from the sky, each marked with a short word. Type the word, and then alien explodes. But type it too slow, and then alien drops a bomb (as you can see above under “own”) and starts burning up your city. Once enough fires are lit, you lose. This one starts out very easy, but it does get challenging after a while. No graphs here, though.
Typing Club is, I think, the coolest one of this bunch, so I left it to the end. This is a well-structured array of lessons gradually taking you from novice all the way to typing ninja, with lots of stats along the way, and no ads in sight. It’s really pretty amazing. And if you’re already a ninja, you can always skip ahead in the lessons. Here’s why a typical lesson looks like:
I can’t really convey this in a screenshot, but Typing Club is gorgeous. As you type, the letters fade in beautifully, and the whole thing just feels very slick and well-polished. Once you finish a lesson, you get a score:
You also get a report for each character used in the lesson:
And your performance is recorded in the lesson plan, Angry Birds style:
All in all, Typing Club is superbly executed. If you care about your typing, you should definitely check it out.
What’s your favorite free online typing test? Let me know in the comments!
Image Credit : ShutterStock