Keyboard shortcuts and the left hand

Why are all the common keyboard shortcuts are closer to the left-hand side of the keyboard? Here’s seven that I use frequently.

  1. Ctrl+C (Copy in most applcations)
  2. Ctrl+V (Paste in most applcations)
  3. Ctrl+X (Cut in most applcations)
  4. Ctrl+Z (Undo in most Microsoft applcations)
  5. Ctrl+S (Save in most applications)
  6. Alt+Tab (Switch between windows)
  7. Ctrl+F (Find for most applications)

I’m right-handed and I use the mouse with my left-hand but that’s for ergonomic reasons. All these keyboard shortcuts are extremely easy for me to use.

I wonder about left-handed people though. Are keyboards (the normal ones at least) skewed for the right-handed folks? I find it difficult to use keyboard shortcuts that require me to use only my right hand.

My experience is that I use my left hand to hold down the Ctrl key and my right hand for the second key. Case in point: Ctrl+P (print in most applications). Otherwise, I end up extending my left hand (pinky holds the Ctrl key) and pressing the second key required. Case in point: Ctrl+B.

I’d be interested in talking to some left-handers out there, or even hearing from them. Psst! That means you. Comment.


3 thoughts on “Keyboard shortcuts and the left hand

  1. I am not sure if there is a left-handed right-handed bias in these cases. They are probably remnants of an older era without GUI. For example why is the paste operation Ctrl-V? Because Ctrl-P was preempted by Print, I guess. Incidentally if you touch type you’ll figure out that you are expected to hold down the modifier key (shift, usually on touch typing) with the opposite hand to the key itself. For example Ctrl-P would be Left Ctrl, Right P. Ctrl-C would be Right Ctrl, Left C. But with the mouse on the right hand side it is quite convenient to use the left hand for the entire Ctrl-C combibation.


  2. Maybe the layout of the normal keyboard prevents you from using keys that are closer to the right hand. At least, it seems so for me and I am a right hander. I don’t know if there’s a bias, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who’s left-handed about how they feel about the shortcut keys. Shivku, if I remember right, you were right-handed weren’t you?

  3. You remember RIGHT, I am right-handed! I was just making a point about touch typing and that two handed operations are expected when you use any modifier key.


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