Typing all day can really take its toll on your wrists. You’ll see why if you look at the way your wrists naturally fall on the desk, and compare it to how most keyboards force you to hold your hands.
An ergonomic keyboard is designed to complement your body, not fight against it. Here are six of the best ergonomic keyboards—from traditional to split and everything in-between.
Microsoft has a history of making quality keyboards. It was one of the first companies to bring ergonomic typing to the mainstream, and the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop is the latest full-sized iteration of that design.
The use of a “Natural Arc” key layout is designed to mimic the shape of your fingertips, with an extended palm rest to take the strain off your wrists. It’s an investment in comfort at a reasonable price point, with a few additional features like media keys and 128-bit AES encryption of your keystrokes to boot.
The wireless design works with Windows 8 and above (though it’ll work on your Mac too) via a USB dongle, and uses two AAA batteries for power. You also get a separate flat-design number pad, which you can position anywhere on your desk.
The Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue is the wireless version of the Freestyle2, and it’s available in both Windows and Mac versions. While the keyboard communicates with your computer wirelessly, the two split sections are joined by wire in the middle and available in 9-inch and 20-inch versions.
The Freestyle2 uses low-force responsive keys, and the traditional design and layout removes the requirement for an adjustment period. Add the optional VIP3 or V3 lifters and Kinesis Palm Support for an even more comfortable typing experience (sold separately).
One handy feature allows you to sync the keyboard to three separate devices at a time, and switch between them with a button press. The rechargeable lithium polymer battery provides a six-month battery life, and you can use the keyboard while charging too.
An ergonomic keyboard that uses a split design and mechanical switches, Mistel’s Barocco is a pricey but high-quality offering for gamers and serious typists. Of note is your choice of Cherry MX Black, Blue, Brown, Clear, Red, Silver, and Nature White switches, for the ultimate personalized feel.
You can program the entire keyboard, from the layouts (such as the productivity-boosting Colemak layout) to key bindings, macros, and media keys. Per-key RGB backlighting adds a premium look, with several modes available depending on your mood.
For low latency response time, the Barocco uses a wired design rather than Bluetooth. Thus it requires no batteries or charging.
Built around the same design as Microsoft’s full-sized Sculpt keyboard, the Surface Ergonomic is a lightweight and compact ergonomic design that works with Surface devices and Windows 10. It uses a similar “Natural Arc” design, with a cushioned palm rest to help reduce wrist strain.
The chiclet design is whisper-quiet and you can expect 12-month wireless battery life from two AAA batteries. There’s a set of media keys on top, and the number pad is integrated into the main design unlike the Sculpt Ergonomic featured earlier.
Unfortunately, some users of older Macs may have issues getting their devices to recognize the Surface Ergonomic as a keyboard. It’s not compatible with older Bluetooth 3.0 devices, and you’ll need to sacrifice a USB port for the wireless dongle too.
The Kinesis Advantage2 uses a patented contoured design designed to minimize hand and finger extension. With a built-in palm rest, and thumb keys for Enter, Space, and more, the Advantage2 is a wired keyboard for desktop use that’s certainly going to take some getting used to.
Features include compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux out of the box, a vertical key layout, and an optional electronic click to optimize your typing. The whole keyboard is programmable, so you can change keys around as you see fit.
The Advantage2 comes with mechanical Cherry MX Brown low-force switches, perfect for typing and coding at speed. You’ll also find palm pads in the box for added comfort where required. The biggest drawback is the price, since this is the most expensive keyboard on our list.
6. ErgoDox EZ
A split-design wired keyboard, the ErgoDox EZ is a pricey yet highly customizable input device that’s fully adjustable to your typing needs. Not only can you adjust the position of the EZ for maximum comfort, you can replace the keycaps and switches too.
When you purchase the kit from ErgoDox, you can choose from printed, blank, or no keycaps. You pick from a full rainbow of Cherry MX switches (with the quiet Brown being the most popular), as well as a selection of Kalih switches.
Based on an open source design, the kit comes with the Wing (a custom wrist rest) and a tilt kit. You can purchase all these accessories separately too (including keycaps and switches). And take a look at building your own firmware for the keyboard if you have skills in that area.
It’s expensive, but incredibly popular for such an unorthodox design.
Using Windows Keyboards on a Mac
Not all of these keyboard come with Mac layouts or express support for macOS. Most of them, however, will work with macOS just fine. You can reprogram any issues you encounter with incorrect key mapping (mostly for Cmd, Option, and Control) with apps like Karabiner-Elements and Keyboard Maestro.
To learn more, check out our full guide to using a third-party keyboard with macOS.
Other Ergonomic Computer Improvements
While you’re trying to save your wrists, spare a thought for the rest of your body. A laptop stand will elevate your display to a position that is less likely to cause stiffness and damage to your neck. Investing in an ergonomic mouse as well is a good idea.
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