Carwin Young


Setting Your Input Format To Dvorak

01 May 2013

In the first part of this series I promised this follow-up would have some resources for folks who already use or who might like to start using the fabulous Dvorak keyboard layout.

After amassing a trove of Dvorak resources it became obvious that fitting them all into one post would be... hard to read. Instead, I'll be splitting up the resources into separate posts based on a topic. This one, as the title suggests is all about input formats.

If you have any contributions you'd like to make or questions you'd like to ask, don't hesitate to ping me on Twitter or Freenode IRC (I'm carwin in both places).


These instructions are grouped by most similar, there may be some minor differences.

Snow Leopard / Lion / Mountain Lion

  1. Open System Preferences and click on Language & Text
  2. Choose Input Sources next and enable Dvorak.
  3. You'll likely want to change the keyboard layout for the login screen as well, to do so:
    • System Preferences
    • Accounts
    • Login Options
    • Show input menu in login window
    • After setting that option and changing it once from the login screen you shouldn't have to bother with it again.

Tiger and earlier

  1. Open System Preferences and click on International
  2. Choose Input Menu and enable Dvorak.

Apple provides two different Dvorak options, not including the left/right hand variants. The first is the regular US Dvorak and the second is Dvorak QWERTY, aka: Big Fat Cheater's Dvorak.

BFC Dvorak's defining feature is that your keyboard layout will switch back to QWERTY while you hold the key, in effect keeping your shortcut habits intact. If you're serious about using Dvorak, this input format will only slow you down.

You can leave other input sources available, but for your own sanity, make sure you set the "Use the same one in all documents" option.

I'm missing images of older OS X environments, send me an email if you've got some!

Linux Consoles

The examples below are specifically from Arch Linux, but every flavor will have a keymap file stored somewhere. A typical path is something like this (although Arch is cool and won't make you find it):


On the fly in a TTY

# Replace 'dvorak' with the path to your keymap
> loadkeys dvorak

Permanent solution for console keymap

# /etc/vconsole.conf in Arch Linux

Now when you boot into a TTY you'll be all set, which is pretty handy when it comes time to enter login credentials.

Chrome OS and ChromiumOS

  1. The first time you login to Chrome OS you're given the option to set your keyboard layout before doing anything else. Nice!
  2. If you've already set up Chrome OS with QWERTY or AZERTY, simply navigate to the following URL and choose Dvorak as the input method: chrome://settings/languages
  3. Yet a third way to edit you keyboard layout is to click through the UI of the operating system:
    • Click in the bottom right corner and choose Settings
    • When the resulting window appears, choose Keyboard settings.
    • Finally, select US Dvorak keyboard and click Done.

Visual Walkthrough First time setup: cros1 Navigating the UI: cros2 cros3 cros4

Android (4.x)

This is actually a bit tricky since Android doesn't come with Dvorak enabled although it is available. What you need to do is actually set up a custom keyboard input.

  1. Navigate to Settings and choose Language & Input
  2. Scroll down to Keyboard & Input Methods and click your current keyboard layout. More than likely this is still Default.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and choose Advanced settings.
  4. On the Advanced settings page, choose Custom input styles.
  5. Click Add style at the bottom of the next screen.
  6. A popup box will appear, keep your Language the way it is unless you'd like to change it to something else, but select Dvorak from the Layout dropdown menu and click Add.

Visual Walkthrough android1 android2 android3 android4 android5 android6

That's it! After you click add the system will ask you if you'd like to enable the new input format you created (Protip: you do) and you're off to the races!

Windows XP

  1. Go to the Control Panel
  2. Click Regional and Language Options
  3. Click on the Languages tab
  4. On the Languages tab, click Details...
  5. In the resulting window, choose Add....
  6. Yet another window appears. In this one, check the Keyboard layout/IME: checkbox and select United States-Dvorak from the dropdown menu.
  7. Hit okay and the window will close, bringing you back to the window we saw in step 5. Make sure United States-Dvorak is selected and click Apply.
  8. Finally, select United States-Dvorak from the dropdown above.

Visual Walkthrough xp1 xp2 xp3 xp4 xp5 xp6 xp7 xp8

Interestingly, Microsoft provides directions for changing your keyboard layout without ever touching your mouse: link

Windows Vista

  1. Press the Windows Key + U
  2. Navigate to Explore all Settings and choose Make the keyboard easier to use.
  3. Scroll down to See Also and choose Add a Dvorak keyboard and change other keyboard input settings.
  4. Switch to the Keyboards and Languages tab and choose Change keyboards.
  5. Switch to the General tab and click Add.
  6. Scroll down and expand English (United States) and Keyboard. Click to fill one of the United States-Dvorak layout options.
  7. Finish by clicking OK.

Visual Walkthrough vista1 vista2 vista3 vista4 vista5 vista6 vista7 vista8


Windows 7

  1. From the Start menu click Control Panel.
  2. In the Control Panel folder click the Clock, Language, and Region link
  3. Click the Region and Language control panel
  4. Click the Keyboards and Languages tab.
  5. Click the Change Keyboard... button
  6. On the General tab, press the Add button.
  7. Scroll down to English (United States), expand it then check the box for United States - Dvorak.
  8. Press OK buttons close the dialog boxes to finish.

Visual Walkthrough win71