One handed control

I’ve been playing around with different layouts for special uses. Haven’t necessarily decided the “ideal” solutions, but the basic concepts themselves are worth considering.

There are plenty of times I’m not typing, but I am working on the computer - probably mostly using the mouse. But I may need to do something on the keyboard quickly. I don’t want to grab the keyboard (on it’s little lapdesk) and use two hands to do some things. I want to be able to just reach out with one hand and get the job done.

One approach is to use the function layers. Depending on how you set them up, I could activate a layer (holding K and L), while using my index finger to hit U (volume up). So only one hand needed. But you are limited in how many keys you can hit with one hand. And, of course, if you are using a lot of the function keys anyway, some of those spaces aren’t available.

But recently another Treg tester - sorry, I forget who - suggested I look at the emoji layer.

You see, besides the chords for command, control, option/alt (duplicated on each side of the keyboard), you can also set up “hot corners”. That makes the left corner of the space blade a “command” key and the right corner of the space blade an “alt” or option key. But if you chose the emoji layout option, that right corner instead activates the emoji layer.

As it happens, I’ve never used the “alt” option on the spaceblade so I decided to switch to the emoji layout. Had to change a lot since it is based on qwerty and I needed it to be dvorak. But once that was done, I selected just a handful of emojis (I rarely use them and, if I do, I don’t need more than a small number). That left me with lots of room on both space blades for other things.

All my emoji are on the left side so would take both hands to access (usually). But that’s fine since I’m only using them when typing normally. The ones on the right side can be controlled with one hand.

So instead of putting things in the function layer, I put them on the emoji layer for one handed use. Some spots are easier to hit than others so that’s where you have to decide what is best for you.

Things I’m looking at now include:

The three volume controls items (up, down, mute)
Screen brightness (brighter, dimmer)
Bigger text / smaller text
Close active tab
Show desktop, show all windows, show windows for active app
Copy screen to clipboard, copy screen to desktop
Copy a marked section of the screen to clipboard or desktop
Play/pause button
Turn off the TextBlade

I’m not planning on making all these one handed operations, but some will be. Some, such as turning off the TextBlade, I’ll want to require two hands.

There are also sometimes a need for a one-hand “undo” - like when you play a game and want to undo a move. Also one handed paste. I’ve found that sometimes using the mouse doesn’t always paste exactly where I want it, but the keyboard will (after placing the cursor with the mouse).

Near as I can figure, combining the emoji with the two function key layers, there are 33 places just on the right blade where you could put controls without having to resort to the “sticky” for the function chords. That’s a lot of one handed capability.

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I’m still periodically experimenting with different layouts. I have moved many things from my previously customize Function layer to the Emoji layer. Right now it looks like this:image

With other changes I’ve made, this seemed the most convenient place for me to put ESC. Likewise the key to turn off the TextBlade. Can’t change shift, at least not yet. So the “Restart TB” is presently to the right of “Off”.

I’m still working on icons for some things. So you see two spots for “scn”. This is for copying the full screen - first one to the clipboard and the other one to the desktop.

I found a decent icon for copying a window. The letter inside refers to “Clipboard” and “Desktop” respectively. Not pretty, but functional.

On the right blade I put some stuff for when I’m just letting the TB sit on my desk and I want to reach out to do something quickly with one hand. So across the bottom I have paste (a glue bottle), undo, and redo. Also above that options to increase or decrease volume.

I can edit the delete and Enter keys and since my normal usage of the emoji layer probably won’t need them, I may relocate some items into those slots for easier hand position. The volume controls may be great there.

Basically I’m turning the emoji layer into something for things I need to be able to do, but I often just don’t recall quickly where they are on other layers or that I want to do with one hand. And setting them up my way tends to help me remember the structure.

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I’m hoping that I’ll be able to map my various keyboards similarly, and this looks very promising, because I think it will map really well to the Kinesis & Keymouse keyboards that I’m currently using in the office. For programming work, I think I’ll need at least 3 layers, but it’s all going to depend on how well the modifier key combos work (various combinations of Shift, Control, Alt, and Command – sometimes all four at once!)

Current layer experiment:

The white and blue layouts are almost identical to the Kinesis layout that I use, so switching back and forth isn’t too hard. The biggest challenge is that I’m still only able to hit about 50% of my Kinesis speed. I assume I’ll have a bit of a learning curve on the TextBlade as well, but probably less because it’s a keyboard only.

(In case you’re curious as to why I am still trying to find the perfect keyboard, it’s because I’ve had some serious repetitive stress injuries in the past. Being able to take it on the go, position the TextBlade independently of the screen, and being able to type without hand repositioning will be a big win!)

Can’t wait to try the TextBlade! I’m certain it’s not going to be a long wait now :smiley:

I would agree that the app layer has a lot of functions that I use quite a bit in everyday usage on my mac. I like the idea of creating a layer all around document review or email triage. Latching into edit mode is moderately helpful, but I’m also often jumping around into different tabs and apps when doing this kind of work. So needed to latch and unlatch all the time is adding to the cognitive load of the task.

This isn’t about one-handed control, but still related to layouts. Specifically about icons. It can really get confusing, especially if you don’t use something regularly and want to put it on a chart like I have installed within my lap desk. Part of the problem is that I want to pretty much have everything listed on that chart, but that’s a LOT of layouts, such as:

Alpha, Alpha shift, Green, Green shift, Numbers, Numbers Green, Edit, Edit Green, Functions 1, Functions 2, Media, Apps, Emoji. Try to fit all that, plus other notes, on one 8.5x11 inch piece of paper! I can combines some, like Alpha and Alpha shift since most changes are just upper and lower case so I only put one in the chart. The things that change to an entirely different character aren’t an issue either since, for example, it is easy to fit “; :” into one cell. But with many of these things, you can’t do it with individual characters. You need a description (for example, “cpy” for “copy” (so I can make the characters a bit bigger in the cell. Or an icon which, of course, takes up more space than a character.

I figure some of this is going to be unavoidable, but I want to avoid as much as I can. So…

Consider anything involving a right arrow of some sort. In the TB app, there are 14 symbols involving that concept. Sometimes a “>” type symbol, other times a solid triangle shape pointing right. Might have a double symbol. Or might be combined with something else, something like “>||”. Some are pretty ingrained. Like my example which would be “play/pause”. That goes back decades on tape recorders. But other things are less clear. WT does have some with enough other info to make it clear. Like an arrow with “app” written above it for next app. But not all.

So, in my search for other ideas, I considered “Find” combined with “Find next” and “Find previous”. As expected, WT has the standard magnifying glass for “Find”, but the other two just use “>” and “<”.

So my idea was to use the same basic symbol for all three, but with an adjustment as below:


The vertical one is “Find”. The one tilted to the left is for “previous” and the one tilted right is for “next”. Another option would be to use one icon for all 3, but under the previous and next ones, include an arrow pointing the appropriate direction. The thing is, you could tell at a glance that all three are about searching.

Still working on other options, but I’m no artist so even when I have an idea, I’m not one to created it.

For example, consider Page Up and Page Down. I could see having a page icon, but with an arrow in each, stretching from near the bottom to the top (or vice-versa) to show page up or down.

Maybe a “document beginning” and “document end” could do the same, but instead of having a one page icon, show two vertical pages with the arrow passing through both to symbol you’ll be going beyond a single page jump.

Paragraphs are still a mystery to me as to how to make a clear icon without getting crowded. Same applies to a number of others.

I’m in the process of getting my layouts more precise. For example, I used to set up a layout and use it for mac and iOS, even though some things wouldn’t work with both. With all the options, I may not have gotten everything right yet or I may want to make more changes, but here is what I have so far. First for Mac:

And this is the iOS version (the emoji layer being the one with the most obvious differences):

WayTools - if you’re listening :slight_smile: one of the things that is useful with layers is some way to show the keyboard on the screen. For example, if there’s a key press that activates a layer, and someone presses that key normally, they press it and then another key. But what if they’re not sure what they’re looking for? Well, then when they press that layer activation key, and hold it, it’s a clue (to the UI on the computer, for example) that they’d like to see what the layer is configured as, so (as unobtrusively as possible, but obviously visible) pop up the lay-out of the layer on the screen so that they can see it until they press (or release) a key. (Possibly: A configurable delay after key is depressed and before the pop-up appears, and obviously configurable to be able to turn the “pop up” off altogether.)

dabi - how do you do F keys (F1, F2, …)? I couldn’t tell from your layouts?

Cameron - yes, that’s already built in to the keyboard extension.

It shows the active layer in real time, and confirms all key entries and shifts on a visual map on screen.

It can be brought up or put away at will, with a gesture. It’s also designed to be very low profile, at just 1/3 the height of the standard iOS glass keyboard.

Accesible from any app on the device, just like the iOS virtual keyboard.

Function keys F1-F20 all fully supported, and visible on screen.

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Still working on the different way things work (or do nothing) on iOS vs macOS, so I’ve removed some stuff from the iOS layout completely. But it can get pretty complicated since what something does may differ based on the app you are in.

Right now it looks like several different commands that vary their effect on the Mac may not do different things on iOS. I haven’t removed the “extra” ones yet because I need to check if they will act differently on different apps on my iPad. Right now this is mainly media stuff. “Rewind” or “beginning of track” or “previous track” may be the same on iOS in some cases at least. Can get pretty involved - how many different apps do I need to check before deciding one may always be exactly the same as another in the iOS environment. And then you have the question for some folks on Windows, etc! I can’t check that, but it gives an idea of how challenging it will be to make a list of how everything works on different systems.

That. Is. So. Cool.

DBK: Great thread and info here. Makes me much more excited to get a TextBlade! I somehow had missed this thread completely on my earlier perusal of the forums (before I was able to actually log in - I had a problem that prevented that, for MONTHS!).

Waytools - I agree with Cameron - THAT. IS. SO. COOL. :slight_smile:



The customization is great. I actually just made a recent change to the number pad layer. I was typing something to a friend that was just going to be a series of numbers so I decided to switch to number pad layer. But I was doing numbers like this:

26, 32, 100, etc

The problems were, on Dvorak using normal numbers, the comma is on the qwerty W key. So to access numbers that way, I had to keep releasing the green layer to get the comma.

But the way I had set up the number pad and using it locked, the numbers were on the main layer but to get the comma I had to switch to green. So I found it better to move the equal sign to the right pinky (where I had put the question mark) and put the comma on the main num pad layer where I had put the equal sign before.

One of the hard things when customizing is deciding how to best group things logically!

You sound a LOT like me on how you do things.

AGES ago, in a time probably none of you know, there was a Compaq iPaq PDA. I got one free at work to test for work use, and they bought all kinds of cool accessories, including a little “snap on” keyboard that went on the end of the iPaq.

This isn’t the particular snap on keyboard I had, but you get the idea - you had the device itself, then you’d slide this keyboard thingy on the end of it. But the keyboard had HORRIBLE compromises. At the time, I was running Linux on my Compaq iPaq, and writing code on it every day, so I needed the full breadth of programming characters available. The device was presented to the OS as a hardware keyboard, and had a driver, but I didn’t know yet how to filter the keys properly system wide. In other words, I could adjust them one way at the command prompt, but then I’d have to adjust differently in Xwindow for X apps, etc. So I decided to remap the keys in the driver itself. It was the wrong solution to be sure, but it worked to QUICKLY give me all the configurability I wanted and it worked system wide. :slight_smile: I had to make EXACTLY the kinds of decisions you are talking about. Ok, so I need the be able to type a vertical bar “|”, but I don’t want to have to hold three keys down to do it. I’ll give up the quick access to the ` character because I personally don’t type that one very often (just when I’m writing shell scripts that want to run a command and return the output). Stuff like that.

I look forward to one day having to make those decisions with my TextBlade. :slight_smile:


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That was my second pda … first was compaq aero

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What program do you use to create your keyboard layout diagrams?
They seem like they are really useful in learning each layout.

I just use Pages on the Mac.

This is my latest Mac version (Dvorak layout and using the Emoji hot corner option. I made another change to the Numpad layer, putting the math keys and period and comma also on the left side (mirror image) because this lets me avoid the green layer if I’m using both hands instead of one. And I wasn’t using those spots anyway.

A lot of my Emoji layer is designed for one handed operations on the right side - volume control, screen brightness, paste, undo, redo, etc. Actually, some of these things I do so rarely I can’t remember which keys to use - but that’s where the chart comes in handy!

I’m headed out to play catch with my kids right now and will be playing two softball games tonight in our local league, so it will be a bit before I can respond. I HAVE MANY QUESTIONS ON THIS!!! :slight_smile:


I have questions about it too! Have you any idea how hard it is to find icons that are clear in their meaning? In some cases, I can’t even imagine what some could be.

I do like my “solution” for “find”, “find previous”, “find next”. I just use the traditional magnifying glass and change the tilt to fit (vertical, tilt left, tilt right).

I also think good uses of arrows can be handy, even if I may not be sure what the basic icon should look like. Things like moving forward or back by word (or paragraph, page, etc). Figure out the basic icon and and an arrow under it for direction. I wish I was a graphics artist and could create these things.

Some of the icons I adopted in my charts are not ideal. And some I use so seldom, I’d have to look the keys up in the TB app to remind myself what they actually do!

I’ve got a background in graphic design. I’m actually truthfully not any good at starting from scratch but any good base template and I’m good to go.