No more "Hunt n' Peck"! How you can learn to type without looking at the keyboard

↓ Summary     → En español

You know? Since I had my first computer in the Windows 98 era, up until the year 2009, I always typed using a technique called "Hunt and peck". This way of typing is called like that because you get both index fingers ready, then you look at the keyboard directly, hunt for the key you need, and then Bam!, you peck it. This way of typing is precise, but slooooooow.

One day on 2009 I went to a friend's house to visit him, and he had his Facebook open on his computer. Inside of Facebook a game I've never seen before was open, and it caught my attention: Typing Maniac, a game where you have to type words that are falling from the roof to stop them from "piling up" on the floor, and where you can obtain power-ups like "fire", "ice", "wind" and "slow" to help you deal with all those words that start falling more and more as you pass each level.

If I remember correctly, he played a couple of times and showed me how the game worked. As he played, my friend's eyes never went off the screen, and he never looked at the keyboard to see what was the next key he needed to press. My friend did everything without looking at his keyboard.

Then I sat down in front of the computer and tried to play using my amazing hunt 'n peck skills... and it's not news that having your eyes fixed on the keyboard to search for keys while words are falling on the screen is a recipe for disaster. I couldn't get pass level 1.

The day after that interesting experience I had a moment more or less like this:

Keyboards are designed to be used "by touch" and using the five fingers of each hand, so why not learn to type correctly and make the most out of my keyboard? On that moment I decided that I would no longer depend on my eyes and just my two index fingers to type. I decided I wanted to be able to type with my eyes closed or in a room without light, and that I wanted to type much faster. Thus I decided to learn how to touch-type. Woooo!

Ohh, and I also wanted to beat my friend at Typing Maniac. At that time I used to use Facebook, and as you know, if you install an application that your contacts / friends / lovers / stalkers / whoever also use, you can check their high scores. So, a little something else that pushed me to learn to touch-type was beating my friend's high score :D


How I learned to touch-type


When I decided to start my typing choco-adventure I searched and searched on the Internet for resources and information on how to learn to touch-type really well. Most websites that I found about touch-typing had ugly and old interfaces, like from the 90's, and I didn't like them. Other sites offered paid software to teach you how to touch-type.

Fortunately, after searching for half an hour or so I managed to find a website that I think (both then and nowadays) is the best site in the entire Internet to learn how to touch-type. That site is none other than Typing.com.

At the time the site was called TypingWeb.com, and the features that made it a great site back then still make it a great site nowadays. Typing.com uses a clean and pleasant interface, it's free to use, and offers a wide variety exercises (or lessons) to practice your touch-typing (which are divided by courses).

At Typing.com you will find a beginners course, a course for intermediate typers, one for advanced users, and a couple of extra courses you can take to practice your typing skills even more (one of these courses includes training for the numerical keyboard). The site also has an exam option, which you can use to evaluate how are your typing skills improving. You can compare how are your skills growing by taking the exam once a month, or once every two months, or whenever you want.

When I first found TypingWeb, the first thing I did was to take the test using my hunt and peck skills to see how I would do. I got a speed of 9 WPM (i.e. 9 words per minute... LOOOOOL). Then I decided to invest... I believe 15 minutes in the afternoons, and 15 minutes at night to practice. At the beginning, as expected, the process was sloooooooow. I've never typed without looking at the keyboard, and I made a lot of mistakes.

I remember one time, I think it was one months after I started, that I reached a lesson where you had to type all that was on the screen before a time limit. And I tried to type as fast as I could... but I couldn't finish before the time limit! And I tried, and tried and couldn't, and couldn't! That was an interesting experience, and a bit frustrating... but I didn't let myself get defeated. I kept trying, kept practicing (I think I did some extra drills), and a couple of days later I managed to complete that lesson (yay me! :D)

After a year of practicing for 15-30 minutes each day I managed to reach a speed of 90 WPM, with 98% accuracy, all without looking at the keyboard. Nowadays I no longer use Typing.com, and I admit that I sometimes have issues with the number keys above the letters and some punctuation signs, but I've kept my speed and the skill of typing without looking at the keys thanks to... well, doing it. I've maintained my skill thanks to touch-typing everything I've written (and keep writing) in the last 5 years.

Ohhh, and I also started playing Typing Maniac when I reached that typing speed. And after many tries I completed my mission. I had finally beaten my friend's high score at Typing Maniac. After my typing odyssey, I had finally beaten him :D


Typing games


If you don't know how to touch-type, and you decide to use Typing.com to learn how to do it, I suggest that you complement your training at Typing.com with some cool typing games that you can find on the web. You have fun for a bit, and you practice your touch-typing! Win – Win.

There's a game section in Typing.com you can check out. My favorite games there are Tommy Q (similar to Plants vs Zombies, but typing... and without plants), and Nitro Type, which consists on typing as fast as you can to beat other people who are playing the game at the same time as you. Another typing game I played a lot in its time was TypeRacer, which is the same as Nitro Type, but with more simple graphics and interface.

And of course, there's Typing Maniac. I recently played again and reached level 19, with 371.821 points. Can you beat my record? :D You can play this game on your Facebook account or through the link I just shared with you.


Being able to touch-type is a very useful skill: You can train yourself to type much faster, and you can type even if you are in a dark room and you cannot see the keyboard. You could even type with your eyes closed! If you have to write things as part of your studies or job (and who doesn't?), touch-typing will allow you to put your ideas on (virtual) paper much faster.

Moreover, some jobs require that you type quickly. For instance, in 2014 I managed to get a job at a bilingual Call Center thanks to my typing skills (and because my English speaking is good, of course). But if my typing speed was too low... I don't think they would've hired me, as you need to type notes at lightning-speed for that kind of job.

Well, the fact is that knowing how to touch-type is a cool skill, and it's much better than typing using the hunt 'n peck technique. If you are interested in developing this skill, you now know what to do!

I wish you success in your typing adventure! :D


Summary


Typing.com, 15-30 minutes a day.


Last updated: June 12 of 2015

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