If you were a chef, wouldn't you invest in a premium chef knife?
Well, as someone who types literally millions of keystrokes a year for my profession, I decided to invest in a premium keyboard by combining Karabiner-Elements with a customized WASD Keyboard.
WASD Keyboards creates customized mechanical keyboards. I decided to go with a V2 87 key layout board with Cherry Brown switches, but with virtually limitless options for further customization, I started exploring how else I could extend the functionality of my keyboard.
Karabiner-Elements (formerly just "Karabiner", and before that "KeyRemap4MacBook") is a keyboard customization software for macOS that can change any key or combination of keys on the keyboard to do just about anything. I use Karabiner-Elements for all sorts of keyboard modifications, including:
- Use J / I / K / L as arrow keys for navigating the cursor and selecting text.
- Create more convenient and comfortable shortcuts for common commands, like cut, copy, paste, delete, backspace, undo, redo, find, and escape.
- Launch applications like Google Chrome or Terminal with a single hotkey.
- Open Google Chrome to a webpage (e.g. gmail) with a single hotkey.
- Type my usual email send off ("Cheers, John") with a single hotkey.
After I settled on a particular configuration, I customized my WASD keyboard design to align with the expanded functionality provided by Karabiner-Elements. The result is a beautiful and efficient typing experience on a one-of-a-kind keyboard.
Of course I also regularly use my Macbook laptop, which has a standard Apple keyboard. No worries - I have the same Karabiner-Elements configuration on my Macbook keyboard (minus a few specific keys that only exist on the WASD keyboard).
You can find my Karabiner-Elements settings as well as the Adobe Illustrator files to create my WASD keyboard on my github page: