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.