Get to Work: Switch To A Mechanical Keyboard And Make Your Fingers Happy

Much to annoyance of my spouse and coworkers, I have an obsession with mechanical keyboards. It started with a keyboard I found in the supply closet at work—a left-handed keyboard, no less. My choice was motivated by making my desk as unappealing to squatters as possible. I think this is the keyboard.

The thing is that once you type on a mechanical keyboard, especially if you’re a hard typer, you never go back to a dome switch or scissor-switch keyboard. I often bottom out keys as I type, which leads to sore fingers. However, the force required to press down the physical switch on a mechanical keyboard provides plenty of resistance—which prevents bottoming out—and that same switch also gives the keyboards their satisfying click.

I still use my laptop keyboards on the road, and occasionally the default Apple keyboard with my iPad, but if I have a lot of writing to do, I prefer to do it with one of my mechanical keyboards.

I held out some love for the Apple Pro keyboard at first, but I went to the clicky side completely when I found the Matias Tactile Pro. The Tactile Pro is a re-creation of the mechanical-switch Apple Extended Keyboard, and it’s a workhorse. I bought it six years ago and use it constantly when I bring my work laptop home, and yet it barely looks used. If you’re looking for a tank, that’s it.

I replaced the Tactile Pro with the Matias Tactile One, which has Bluetooth so you can toggle between using it with your iPad and with the computer it’s plugged into. I would say that I used that feature a lot less than I thought I would, but occasionally it comes in handy. The Tactile One also features quieter switches, which may be the reason it remains my main keyboard.

In my office, I have the Das Keyboard Professional Model S: I use a PC version, but it’s a really nice keyboard. It’s not as tactile as the Alps switches on the Matias keyboards, but it’s still good. (Note: The above link is for the Mac version of the model I have. Das Keyboard sells a newer model for the PC, but it doesn’t plan to update the Mac version to match the new designs.)

I really like the Alps switches of the Matias keyboards, but I can understand that you may not like the design. Luckily for you, several kinds of Cherry MX switches are nearly as good. Look for these inside your next keyboard:

  • Cherry MX Blue – These are in my Das Keyboard. These are the loudest and most clicky style.
  • Cherry MX Green – I had a Ducky keyboard that didn’t last too long with these (I broke the USB port when I packed up my desk.) These are pretty close to the blue switches, but are easier to quickly double press a key.
  • Cherry MX Brown – Still tactile, but much quieter.

You can see an entire guide to the types of switches and which keyboards have them over at Lifehacker.

Mac geek? Gamer? Why not both? Mike is a writer from Wisconsin who enjoys wasting immense amounts of time on the Internet. You can follow him on Twitter.