Suggestions for quiet keyboards?
February 13, 2018 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Someone who sits near me at work just told me my loud typing is making it hard for her to concentrate. I'm not even conscious of typing loudly, but other people have mentioned this in the past and I believe her! Can anyone recommend a keyboard or accessory that will preserve my colleagues' sanity? I work in local government, so really high cost is probably not going to fly. Thank you!
posted by centrifugal to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have the same keyboard as others around you? I wonder if putting something under your keyboard would help.
posted by advicepig at 10:51 AM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

When my boyfriend is typing quickly, it LEGITIMATELY sounds like each keystroke is generated by a baseball he's hurled at the keyboard at 100 mph. Are you a fast, energetic typist? Could you slow down?
posted by kate blank at 10:58 AM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You might try a silicone keyboard cover. There are also soft keyboards out there - searching for “courtroom keyboard” or “soft keyboard” would turn them up.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

What kind of keyboard do you have right now? I've found that chiclet style keyboards (e.g. - not an endorsement, just one of the first listings on amazon for me) are generally a bit quieter than the.. other kind (not necessarily mechanical but with buttons that look like the ones on a mechanical keyboard? I don't know if they have a specific name)
posted by btfreek at 11:02 AM on February 13, 2018

I personally detest loud keyboards and in my last job I about lost my damn mind because the lady sitting next to me sounded like a brigade of tap dancers when she typed.

Go to MicroCenter or Best Buy and try out a few keyboards, Dell and Logitech both have some pretty quiet keyboards for cheap and it can help a whole lot. Additionally, try putting a mouse pad or two under your keyboard to reduce the hard surface it sits on. That really made a difference for me.
posted by teleri025 at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can you adjust the key-click? A co-worker was able to quiet his keyboard when asked to.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2018

I had a silicone keyboard cover and it made my laptop keys almost completely silent, but was pretty fragile--cat walked across the keys and ripped it!

Right now at work I use a Kensington Slim Type Keyboard and it's very quiet. I type 110 WPM and strike the keys pretty hard and it's nicely muffled. I've also used this wireless Logitech keyboard and it's basically silent. I think this is the type of keys btfreek is talking about above, "slim" or "ultra slim" keyboard tend to have this kind of keys.
posted by assenav at 11:17 AM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Check out one of the Goldtouch Ergonomic Keyboards. Not only are they quiet, but for around $100, they'll help prevent bad typing habits. If the sound isn't a result of a key-click preference, chances are you're pressing way too hard, and this can injure the fingers and hands, which you don't want to do if you need to type for a living.
posted by Violet Blue at 11:33 AM on February 13, 2018

I type fast on a fairly noisy wireless Apple keyboard and also have very long fingernails (so, basically you can hear me type in the next town over). I bought a silicone keyboard cover for about $8 on Amazon and I can barely hear my keystrokes now.

(You're very kind for taking this seriously. Typing noise drives me up a wall, too.)
posted by _Mona_ at 11:37 AM on February 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Keyboards that use dome switches are much quieter than keyboards with buckling spring or leaf spring mechanisms, with the drawback that they will bottom out more. Dome switches themselves don't make a lot of noise, but bottoming out will cause a bit of a thud that may be amplified by the structure of the keyboard and/or desk. Apple's keyboards are pretty quiet, making a faint, high-pitched ticking sound and not really resonating. My Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard is also pretty quiet, but the hollow under it causes it to resonate more than my Apple keyboards do. That causes more of the "thud" to be audible away from my desk. It might be possible to fill the air gap under it (with some sort of fabric) and reduce that effect, but I've never tried it. Keyboards that are taller bodies of plastic with more air in them will also resonate more.

Buckling spring keyboards (like the vaunted IBM Model M) make a whole lot of noise, both because the springs themselves are loud and because there's a solid metal plate under them that really resonates. Those both clatter and have a high pitched ring, and I would not recommend them at all for an open office. If you don't already know for sure that you have a buckling spring keyboard (because you bought it for that reason) you probably don't.

Leaf spring keyboards give tactile feedback that can prevent a good typist from bottoming out (you feel the "bump" when the switch activates and you can train yourself to stop at that point) but they are less noisy than buckling spring keyboards. They still feel a bit like old school keyboards or typewriters. Some spring keyswitches are made to be "loud" on purpose (because some people like the sound) and it's possible you ended up with one of those without intending to. If you need the "feel" of a clicky keyboard but want a quieter one for an office you may be happy with a Matias Quiet Pro.

(Typed on a $329 Keyboardio with Matias quiet switches. It's the loudest keyboard I own, but my wife hasn't complained about it if I'm typing in the next room).
posted by fedward at 11:41 AM on February 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use a mechanical keyboard at work (with Cherry MX Red switches) and every now and then will ask if anyone's bothered by my typing. I could get some O-rings to install for a few bucks and would be happy to do so. So far nobody's said they found the noise obtrusive, but perhaps I should install them preemptively?
posted by asperity at 12:16 PM on February 13, 2018

Just for reference, can you tell us what kind of keyboard you have now?

(Flips over work keyboard, tells Metafilter it’s a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 3000 v2.0)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:02 PM on February 13, 2018

Just a piece of information: I have the wireless Logitech keyboard mentioned above, and one time I was taking notes in a meeting, and every attendee asked that I stop typing because it was too loud. It's not loud when you're typing slowly, but if you get going, it does pick up quite a bit of sound. I still like it a lot, and sound aside, I recommend it to almost everyone.

That said, I agree that one of those silicone covers would probably dull the sound enough for everybody to be happy.
posted by General Malaise at 2:40 PM on February 13, 2018

Get some stiff foam, like the kind used for a yoga mat. Hardware stores sell it as floor padding in big interlocking squares, or use a yoga mat. Cut to fit. It should help some. Can you add plants, framed pictures, or other barriers that will help stop sound from traveling? Hard surfaces reflect sound, soft surfaces absorb sound, up to a point. Can you or your co-worker play a radio or white noise softly?
posted by theora55 at 7:03 PM on February 13, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I'm not in my office right now, but what I have is a super basic Dell wired keyboard, and it's legitimately loud and not helped by my fast and emphatic typing. I work in cubicle-land and already have plants and things in my little office. I'm going to try to order a silicone cover to see if it helps and will replace the keyboard if not. (Two other people in the office sheepishly asked for the same thing after hearing me ask, so maybe our whole workplace will become more livable now?)
posted by centrifugal at 8:37 PM on February 13, 2018

Heh! I dug around for an answer to this problem a few years ago when my cubicle neighbor's typing had become unbearably loud, and found this one. It was a win for everybody.
It might be out of your preferred price range, but it's such a pleasantly quiet keyboard and the keystrokes feel great. Major bonus - it's washable!
posted by blueberrypuffin at 11:40 AM on February 14, 2018

Response by poster: Resolution: the silicone cover worked, peace was made without spending too much money, everyone wins. Thank you!
posted by centrifugal at 6:28 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

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