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How to use ThubmsUp! keyboard: Navigation/Text Editing Layers

In the previous post the QWERTY layers were covered. This post explains how to navigate and edit the text with ThumbsUp! keyboards.

The default layout of ThumbsUp! keyboards allows switching between the typing and navigation without moving the hands off their "home" position.

I favor moving the text cursor with my right hand, and to operate the mouse with my left hand. To do that I need to hold the corner key (marked as CURSOR R in red in the diagram below) with my right thumb.

With this layer activated the cursor control block appears on the right side, under index, middle and ring finger. Other navigational keys Home/End/Page Up/Page Down are close enough.

Mouse is controlled by the left hand in the same manner: up/down/left/rigth block plus the scrolling wheel under index, middle and right fingers. Mouse buttons are pressed with the right hand though, the reason is when the left hand is busy with mouse moves it is much easier to push the mouse buttons with the right one. That is most noticeable when those mouse keys are used to drag something on the screen, then holding the mouse button with the left hand would be very uncomfortable. Using both hands for that is simply easier.

Text manipulations require usage of Shift in combination with cursor movements. With this layer I hold Shift with the left thumb, hold Cursor R with the right thumb, and move the cursor with the index/middle/ring fingers.

Sometimes the text navigation has to be done with the left hand. For instance when scrolling though an Excel table and taking notes or checking something off with a pen in the right hand. (I am right handed, but try to involve my left hand as much as possible.) For that a symmetrical navigation layer is created.

This layer is activated by holding the corner thumb key (marked with CURSOR L in the diagram below). The navigation blocks change places - cursor controlled with the left hand and mouse with the right. Mouse buttons also on the same side as cursor, on the left side:

I use these layers interchangeably. As a right-handed person I prefer to use my right hand mostly. That means when I need to move the mouse or scroll the wheel it is easier for me to switch to the latter layer with my left thumb, and use my right hand for the mouse keys. And when I need text cursor to move - I hold CURSOR R with my right thumb and use the remaining right fingers for the cursor moves.

I already mentioned text selection with Shift+Cursor Arrows, these two layers got keys which are constantly used for the text editing:

There are keys for the standard Cut, Copy, Paste, Select All operations. While they do the same as Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, etc. it is much easier to keep holding CURSOR R or CURSOR L and hit familiar X, C, V, A than lift the thumb and press Ctrl.

Notice the Delete in top right corner. In QWERTY layer that key works as Backspace. In these navigation layers it changes to Delete. The reason is in QWERTY data entry/typing "mode" the just entered text needs to be removed, the Backspace is the best key for that.

In the "editing" layers the usual way of action is to bring the cursor to the beginning of the word and then use Delete key.

So the key behavior changes to what is most convenient in each operation "mode".

Similarly the Tab key in these two layers acts as Enter. That relieves the right hand a lot, for example when going through the file tree in FAR Manager (or a similar tool, or any other tree-like structure). Then the right hand is used to move up and down, and left pinkie hits Tab (in that case Enter) without releasing the right thumb. (That may seem to be an little thing, but that small jerk of the right palm to hit Enter put a significant strain on the joints involved. So using the left hand helps to distribute the workload and hopefully avoid the RSI.)

In the next post I will describe the Numbers layer.

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