This is starting to interfere with my work
June 26, 2012 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I need a web-based typing tutor that is aimed at adults who still hunt and peck, not at children who can't type at all.

So, embarrassingly, I have reached my mid-20s and still type with two fingers. And I look at the keyboard, although I generally know where all the keys are. It is time to fix this.

The problem is, I'm overwhelmed when I search for online typing programs- there are hundreds, and there's no way to tell which ones are any good. Also, they mostly seem to be aimed at kids.

I'd really prefer not to pay for a program, but if it's the best option, I will. I don't want to have to install anything, though, because I plan to work on this both at work and at home. It would be nice to have some sort of progress tracker (I plan to work on this for about a half hour each day).

Any ideas?

(Also, if you successfully transitioned from a two-finger typer into a Grown-Ass Adult Typer via some other method, how did you do it? How long did it take you? Currently I type 50 wpm, which sucks, but when I try to type 'right' I'm much, much slower...)
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I have transitioned from a 2-finger typist at about 35 WPM to touch typing at about 120 WPM within several weeks, but (and this may show my age) it was not with an online program. It was Mavis Beacon. Very corny, very cheap, very effective.
posted by Houstonian at 12:04 PM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

I did two finger hunt and peck for over 20 years and then one day in my mid thirties I said "fuck this" and decided to switch. I gave it no thought, just decided to do it one day. I don't remember which program I used but I only really used it for maybe 10 minutes, enough to learn which fingers are used on which keys.

Then, the real thing that helped is I just decided to start using those fingers and not looking. No matter how slowly I typed, I kept at it. I made a lot of mistakes, but I kept at it. Every email, every chat session, every Word document, I typed with the correct fingers without looking. The only exception I made was when typing passwords, as I ran the risk of getting my account locked if I screwed that up.

For about a week it was painfully slow. On the second week it was tolerable. By the third week I was flying and now a few years later I'm typing this without looking at the screen as naturally as if I've always done it this way.

Like any bad habit, the key is to decide not to go back, even though it might be easier in the short term.

I've never timed my WPM, I don't think I'm exceptionally fast, but I'm way faster than I ever was with H&P and I don't have to look at the keys.
posted by bondcliff at 12:15 PM on June 26, 2012

Also, if you successfully transitioned from a two-finger typer into a Grown-Ass Adult Typer via some other method, how did you do it? How long did it take you?

My high school had a required typing class; it was about 16 hours of class time over 8 weeks. I had been two-finger typing for a few years before that.

The way we learned was finger by finger, key by key. We would all sit there at the keyboard, the typing teacher called out instructions, and we followed them. So she would call out, for example. "W. W. W, S, W." And then, "E. E. E, D, E."

So it wasn't a situation where my typing, overall, was slowly getting better and better. We practiced each part of the keyboard separately. Over, and over, and over. (Imagine listening to the typing teacher drone out those letters for an hour at a stretch, nonstop, that's what it was.)

So, at the end of that class, I would be better at using my 3rd and 4th fingers on the left hand, but that's it. You basically had to wait until you practiced all the parts separately, then put them together, before really seeing your new skill.

However, I think doing it that way was EXTREMELY effective. Everyone who took that class thinks it is way easier for them to type super fast and accurately than it is for most people. And, I couldn't even remember how I used to type, afterwards.
posted by cairdeas at 12:16 PM on June 26, 2012

I've had success in teaching folks I work with to (touch) type using Typing Web's free online tutor. It requires a free account to save your progress through different lessons, which go finger-by-finger and gradually progress to full hands. (That previous sentence looks really strange, but I couldn't figure out a better way to word it.) No installation required, although I've noticed that it doesn't work well in older versions of IE. So if your work computer only has IE 6, you'll need to use a different browser.
posted by brackish.line at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I learned how to touch type while playing a MUD one summer. If you're a gaming type, it might work for you. You generally have to type fast while looking at the screen to keep up with what's happening, so it's a good incentive.

May or may not work from your workplace; all you need is a telnet client, but your office might block non-website traffic going out of your network.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:42 PM on June 26, 2012

The two free typing websites I recommend are Typing Club and Typing Web.

For fun interludes, there's Tontie (number pad) and Type Racer.
posted by zamboni at 12:48 PM on June 26, 2012

Letter Invaders was a great game back in the day, bundled in with Typing Tutor. Some of these are fairly similar (in particular keyboard revolution) and should be be helpful for memorizing key locations without having to look.
posted by samsara at 12:56 PM on June 26, 2012

If you need help with motivation, there's Safety Instructions.
posted by zamboni at 1:03 PM on June 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

I taught myself during a long stretch of unemployment using Ten Thumbs. There's a free trial version, too.
posted by vickyverky at 1:56 PM on June 26, 2012

I learned with Ten Thumbs, which isn't web-based. It has a cartoon Viking on various pages, but I don't think it would be suitable for kids -- even though the typing games look juvenile. When I used it, some words had the British spelling, but I didn't care about that.

I made some progress with it and then stalled -- until I heeded the advice given repeatedly throughout the program: forget about speed; concentrate on eliminating mistakes and your speed will keep increasing. I think this approach would work with any typing tutor you'd use.
posted by wryly at 2:23 PM on June 26, 2012

Nthing Mavis Beacon - get an old one, it'll be cheap and just as good as a new one.

In addition to Mavis, I did online crosswords, which made the lessons that much more practical.

Finally, don't look at the keyboard when you type. Mavis shows the keyboard onscreen, which somehow makes a difference in familiarizing yourself with the layout.
posted by DandyRandy at 3:06 PM on June 26, 2012

I popped in to read the answers and find out whether Mavis Beacon still exists, having come across her in about 1995.

But while I'm here, one tip I got from typing classes was to tape a sheet of paper to the top of the keyboard so it covers your hands and you can't cheat and look down at your fingers, even out of the corner of your eye. Makes a huge difference. Mind you, this was pre-Mavis and done when I originally learned to type on manual typewriters, I don't know if flat computer keyboards lend themselves to that quite as well, but worth a try.
posted by penguin pie at 3:44 PM on June 26, 2012

I covered all the keys with black duct tape (except the f and the j) and stuck a picture of the keyboard on the screen, colour coded for which finger to use. I'm much faster now and no longer look at the keyboard.

I find I've memorised how to type whole words or parts of words, not where the exact letters are. I still mix up 'g' and 'h' and 'i' and 'o' if I have to think about it. Also, IT hates using my keyboard when they need to do work on my computer.
posted by kjs4 at 4:53 PM on June 26, 2012

Play any typing game that demands speed. If you want to win, you'll learn to use all your fingers.

Try playing starcraft, too, and forcing yourself to use hot keys. You'll at least learn the left hand pretty quickly.
posted by empath at 5:48 PM on June 26, 2012

The Typing of the Dead.

That is all.
posted by schroedinger at 8:28 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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