I have just started to use my new Planck keyboard for work for a short, short time each day. It has been rough going so far. I expected to have trouble typing in Colemak-DH because I just started learning that layout. I did not expect to have as much trouble with chording keyboard shortcuts. The problems I am facing are making me doubt whether I really can use a 40% keyboard for work, where it would give me the most benefit.

On my Mac, this is almost never an issue. In general, Mac keyboard shortcuts are easier to enter, and are friendlier to laptop-style keyboards that lack certain control keys.

Conversely, Windows apps like Excel make heavy use of function keys (F1-F12) and operator keys (-, +, *), which, on the Planck, live on a secondary layer that requires a key held down to access. When a Windows shortcut requires a function or operator key plus a modifier key (typically Shift, Alt, or Control, or a combination of them), I find it very challenging to enter it. There are just too many keys to hold down and it gets very awkward.

In Excel, I especially miss a key I never even used until last year: the menu key. I must find a suitable mapping for it, because I have come to rely on it for all sorts of things, primarily special forms of pasting. Furthermore, my Windows file manager of choice, FAR Manager, assigns important functions to keys my keyboard does not even have, like Insert, Right Shift, and Right Control, and makes extensive use of Shift+Function keys for common operations such as renaming a file.

I am slowly figuring out how to map some of the complex key command chords I use to single keys on another layer. That may be the answer for some things, but it doesn’t scale well. I may have to adjust what software I use and how I do certain things.