A paradigm shift.
April 15, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

How to correct a specific bad typing habit?

So I learned touch typing from 6th through 9th grades, using the usual typing tutor software they had back in the mid-nineties. It never occurred to me until very recently that I only ever use the left shift key - which now causes me a good deal of strain during long stretches of typing, from bending my hand all funny to capitalize any key that's right next to the left shift.

I would like to switch over to the 'correct' way in which you shift left for letters on the right side of the keyboard and vice versa.
Is there a typing trainer or other program which can specifically focus in on that without having to go back to the very beginning? I try to focus in on it but I do so much typing in a day it's not really possible to be cognizant of it all the time.
posted by SassHat to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My suggestion (mostly because it would be free) would be to practice typing sentences that begin with letters on the left side of the keyboard (Q, W, E, A, S, D, C, etc.) and include lots of proper names.

As in, "William gave Apple Store gift cards to Esther, David, and Carl." Write up a bunch of those and then practice typing them. Maybe put a piece of tape or sandpaper on the left shift key so that you remember not use it.

Typing is more about muscle memory than anything else, IMO. It would probably only take a couple hours to form a new habit.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:18 PM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding mudpuppie, the habit can be unlearned, the new habit can be learned.

In my typing class, 8th grade, about 50 years ago, I was taught to put two spaces after a sentence-ending period. So I did, ever since. Recently an editor expressed annoyance at having to fix this, since his site style (and I guess everybody in the post-typewriter era) requires two spaces. About a day's worth of concentration and I undid a half-century habit, and I'm a one-space man, now.
posted by beagle at 2:30 PM on April 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

It is good that you are doing this.

I lost the habit when I had to retrain my muscle memory anyway, on switching to a new ergonomic keyboard. Just an idea if you were thinking of doing this anyway.
posted by grouse at 2:31 PM on April 15, 2010

It's very difficult to get in the habit of using the right shift. Why? Because the right shift isn't well-standardized, and ends up in different places on different keyboards. My work keyboard, my coding keyboard, and my laptop keyboard all have the right shift in different places - right below the Enter, next to the right Control, and to the left of the Backslash. Moreover, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that often the Enter key is exactly where one might think the right shift key would be. It's not usually a big deal if you're typing along and you accidentally mash the Caps Lock key when you meant to push the Shift - you can just go back a little and unlock the Caps. But if you accidentally mash the Enter key, you've added a new line, and it's more visually jarring - moreover, if you're on a command line, you might have executed a command on accident, and that's not a good thing.

I imagine you might be able to work on breaking this habit if you tried typing only with your right hand, though. I don't know.
posted by koeselitz at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2010

When I notice myself slacking off of the right-shift, I consciously slow down my typing so that I have time to notice that I'm doing the left-hand spread (or finger-fork, or however you do it) and stop myself. Most of the retraining has actually been in the letter combinations I associated with left-only shifting, and certain three-letter strings get flubbed while I'm transitioning to capitalizing from the right.
posted by rhizome at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2010

(On many layouts, too, the right shift key is farther from the normal right-pinky position than the left shift key is from the normal left-pinky position. 'Nother reason it's a hard habit to break in my experience.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:20 PM on April 15, 2010

I'm seconding mudpuppy. Also, if that doesn't work alone try coupling it with the removal of your left shift key. You have not choice but use the right.
posted by shesaysgo at 7:41 PM on April 15, 2010

requires two spaces

Belated fix: requires one space...
posted by beagle at 7:43 PM on April 15, 2010

Remove the left shift key. Or disable it in software. You'll be forced to use the right. Once you've just started getting comfy with just using the right, add it back.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:16 AM on April 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

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