Touch typing

I’ve decided to learn to touch type. I think it’s an essential skill that a writer must posses. When you’ve internalized touch typing you can you use it without thinking, and enjoy it just like a piano player enjoys playing the piano. Recently I’ve switched to Mac from Windows and the only application I really miss is a game called Typer Shark. Windows has good apps for learning touch typing but as far as I have looked there are no good ones on Mac. Ten Thumbs was the only decent one I’ve found, but I don’t want drills. I want to learn by playing a game. Typer Shark is a fun one (and previously I used a pilot game but it doesn’t seem to be available any longer).

I’ve installed BootCamp and the only app I have there is Typer Shark. (I’ve first tried parallels but it activates the fan all the time which irritates me so I’ve thrown it out and installed BootCamp). But BootCamp forces me to restart which is annoying. So I would appreciate if someone could point me to a fun game for touch typing on Mac OS X.

Mavis Beacon software is one of the heavyweights of the ‘learn to type’ world, and it’s available for Mac and WIN. My daughter and I both used it and found it effective and fun. Recommended.

Mavis Beacon online store.

(Edited by Amber: Shortened the link)

I taught myself to touch type without a learn-to-type program. I used a story I had handwritten - I would read one sentence, close my eyes and type it, open my eyes and correct any errors, then move on to the next sentence.

Worked for me…

I find TypeTrainer4Mac very nice and useful, with its difficulty progression:


I learned touch typing in high school. The class was recommended if you anticipated having to type papers and reports later on in college.

The only thing I remember about the class is that the female teacher led us in finger exercises at the beginning of the class for the first two weeks. We sat behind rows of typewriters, hands up, palms facing in, making a fist, and then lifting each finger one by one in sequence, flexing the finger several times before going to the next. You could feel the electricity in the air when we got to the middle finger. Yes, that’s right, we got to flip off the teacher and the entire class for the first two weeks. (I remember a tide of nervous snickers at that moment.)

I know, it’s sad that the memory of finger exercises is so prominently etched in my brain, actually one of the few remaining impressions from that period in my life. Sad, yes, but that’s the way it is.

The class turned out to be one of the most useful I’ve ever taken.


I taught myself to touch-type by having a poster up with the fingers in their ‘home’ positions then forcing myself to look at that poster instead of the real keyboard when typing (e.g. this one in Japanese). I would do a complete session before going back to fix typos. At first I was much slower than the ol’ two finger typing, but in the end it paid off as I am quite happy with my typing speed now.

If I do not find a decent software I might just make my own, as a test project for learning how to program in Mac OS X :slight_smile:. Here are few thoughts about such an app.

  • It must be a fun game
  • No drills!
  • It must only practice real words (I hate practicing jkjlhlk)
  • It must practice according to the word frequency tables ( so will use a lot of the, and I, …)
  • It must practice Cmd, Ctrl, Alt, Fn and so on. It irritates me that none of the typing software on Windows ever practise these keys, after all the keys are there and computer users actually have to hit them occasionally.

Ah, but jkjlhlk are the scales of the touch typing world: and if you don’t practice your scales then you never get the most beautiful music (as I regularly tell no. 2 son).

Although, smashing my own metaphor :blush:, I haven’t typed those patterns for years.

I learnt to touch type on a portable manual typewriter following a book; that was over twenty years ago. The hour a day for three weeks was one of the best time investments I ever made.

What I know is this: I “taught myself to type” as a kid, and I got pretty good at it too. I could type around forty words per minute, which was more than any of my friends could type. Then I had a take a typing class. At first I thought it was the dumbest thing, sitting in that room of thundering manuals. I could already type fast enough; waste of time! My typing teacher was ruthless. He broke all of my habits, and yes, I had to type endless rows of a;sldkfj and whatnot. What MrGruff says is right, they are the scales of piano lessons. They build brain to nerve reflexes so that letter positions become second nature. When I left that class I could type 90 words per minute with nearly flawless accuracy. Years after, with my new skills applied to a computer keyboard, I reached about 140 wpm.

Now clearly, I’m not saying that anyone that takes a class is going to hit 90, let alone 140. The point is, there is a lot of technique to be learned, and going about it intuitively rarely is going to suffice. If you have the self-discipline to be ruthless with yourself, then using a program like Mavis Beacon could probably suffice. In fact, times have changed, Mavis has grown her hair out (and doesn’t look as though she has aged a day), and chances are if you take a class you’ll be sitting in front of Mavis Beacon anyway.

I think touch typing is a great skill to learn. I used Mavis Beacon V 3.0 to learn it as soon as I graduated university. I did not think it would have added greatly to my writing as I could type fairly quickly (40 WPM) by glancing at the keyboard. I was wrong – you are able to devote a great deal more attention to thinking and writing rather that finger placement, increasing the coherence from one sentence to the next.

Since you are just starting to learn touch typing, it may be worthwhile to check out the DVORAK keyboard layout. This works especially well if you usually type on one machine and do not have to worry about who else has to use it, albeit it does not take long to change the keyboard layout. I did try this at work, but I often forgot to change the layout back to QWERTY - all sorts of “hilarity” ensued.

The dvorak layout is more logical. The vowels are in the middle row of the left hand, the most frequently used consonants are on the middle row of the right hand. The second most frequently used letters are on the top row and the least frequently letters are on the bottom hand. I am not sure that working on the DVORAK layout changes the top typing speed, but hands do not dance all around the keyboard when I am typing, letting me type in comfort for longer. Unfortunately, Mavis no longer has any support for the DVORAK layout in any recent versions. There is lots of information/tutorials available :

You have to “groove” your strokes.

Dang it, Bob, it’s not supposed to be fun! (Channeled voice of a long ago typing teacher…)

I sympathize with your search for a fun program. I never did it that way, having been schooled with the proper hand positions at nine and then a formal class of “grooves” in junior high. When computers came out, I jumped up to 100 wpm. Not using your pinky to lift the whole typewriter carriage? That sped me up.

Of course, now I have these overdeveloped pinkies…

Oh! I hear you. I have an ancient Underwood 1926 portable that actually has three shift positions. Lifting that carriage up all the way is quite a task. And I still find myself subconsciously thinking about hammer positions when I’m typing on a computer too. Trying to calculate which hammer is up so that I don’t create a huge mangle of metal with a burst of colliding letters!

Hi Bob,

I don’t do proper typing at all. I only use the first three fingers of each hand (and the left little finger for shift). But I don’t need to look at the keyboard, and can churn out a reasonably flawless 80-100wpm. That’s about as fast as I can think these days, so I don’t really need to go any faster.

So, if you’re already reasonably proficient with your own style, don’t get too hung up trying to relearn a ‘correct method’. I would reccommend carrying on with the skills you’ve got, the best way to improve being to practice.

If you keep your eyes away from the keyboard as much as possible, your fingers will start to find their own ways, even if they don’t do it quite ‘right’. An increase in speed with come with time.

All the same, typing-games sound fun so, if you find a good one, let me know. I’m always looking for reasons to procrastinate. :wink:

Regards, Leigh

Two other suggestions: Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor and Master Key .

Ten Thumbs is good if you want to learn Dvorak, too.

My Lady Amber,
My sense of inadequacy overwhelms me.
140 WPM!! I cant think, talk, walk or run that fast ! In fact, I dont think I can even drive that fast!

Your feeble feeling slave.

May I humbly commend Qwerty Warrior 1 and Qwerty Warrior 2?

Dashed good way to learn to type pretty fast.

Really quite satisfying, and a good way to get the fingers moving on the keyboard or blow off some steam.

Oops, sorry, here’s part 2