DOS/Windows

Keyboard layouts can be changed via software in most Microsoft operating systems, but the button moves around. I have steps and information for the following systems:

You might also want to try Hard-Wired Keyboards.


Windows XP

Added 15 September 2004

  1. Select Start->Control Panel.

  2. If you're viewing by categories (the default), click Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options.

  3. Click Regional and Language Options.

  4. Click the Languages tab

  5. Click the Details button

  6. Click the Add button

  7. Under Keyboard Layout/IME, select United States-Dvorak (or Left- or Right-handed), then click OK.

  8. If you want it to be default, select United States-Dvorak again in the Default input language pull-down

  9. Click OK to close the control panel.


Windows 2000

Added 6 February 2002 (Thanks to Phil Smith)

  1. Select Start->Settings, and then select Control Panel

  2. Open the Regional Options panel.

  3. Select the Input Locales tab.

  4. Under Installed input locales, click the Add button.

  5. Under Keyboard layout/IME, select United States-Dvorak (or Left- or Right-handed); then click OK.


Windows 95, 98, and NT 4.0

Link rot pruned 15 September 2004

Under Start->Settings open Control Panel; then open Keyboard. Click the Languages tab, then your language, then Properties. There's a keyboard layout selection buried in there, and US Dvorak ought to be one of them.

If Dvorak wasn't installed before, the system asks you to feed it one of your Windows installation disks so it can copy the file. The system might give you a choice of using the old Dvorak driver or installing a new one. They should be the same.

If you need a one-handed layout and they aren't listed, or if the layout reverts to QWERTY in your MS-DOS prompt, see Other Windows and MS-DOS Systems.

In Windows NT, if the new layout doesn't carry over to the login window, see this article in the MS Knowledge Base.


Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, or NT 3.x

Link rot pruned 15 September 2004

Dvorak support is built into Windows as a "language." In Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, or NT, open Control Panel; then open International; then select the Keyboard Layout box in the window that opens. There should be a Dvorak selection in there.

If you need a one-handed layout or if you want to use Dvorak in your MS-DOS prompt, see Other Windows Systems and MS-DOS.

In Windows NT, if the new layout doesn't carry over to the login window, see this article in the MS Knowledge Base.


Windows CE

Updated 15 September 2004

A quick Google turned up Pfaadt Software with International keyboard drivers including US-Dvorak for CE.NET 4.2, whatever that means. The links I had here before are dead.


Other Windows Systems and MS-DOS

Link rot pruned 15 September 2004

Microsoft's FTP site (ftp.microsoft.com/softlib) still has a self-extracting archive (mslfiles/ga0650.exe) that contains docs and files for changing to Dvorak layouts in several Windows versions and MS-DOS. This archive includes one-handed layouts for some of the older Windows versions that only had two-handed Dvorak. In case the link doesn't work, I've got a copy in my dos_dvorak.zip archive.

In Windows 95, it saves some agony to create a C:\DOS directory (if it isn't there) before following the included instructions. Otherwise you need to change the KEYB statement when you copy it into your CONFIG.SYS file, and if you slip up it won't work. (For example, if you change the PATH statement instead!)

GA0650.EXE works in MS-DOS versions 5.0 to 6.11. If you prefer something simpler, you can try DVORAK.COM (also in dos_dvorak.zip), a really small terminate-and-stay-resident (TSR) program that Giles Orr gave me in a past century. He had used it on DOS 5 and 6, and in MS-DOS under Windows 95. He thought it might work on even older DOS versions. To use the file, just run it in your MS-DOS session's AUTOEXEC.BAT file. If it doesn't work, remember there's always GA0650.

Finally, dos_dvorak.zip also contains a dvorak10 zip file with Thomas Bridgewater's old Dvorak TSR, which I got off the old Australian alt-keyboards FTP site before it went down. I don't recall having much luck with dvorak10.zip, but it might work for someone.

For real antiquarians, I once heard Keytime used to sell conversion software for pre-5.0 DOS systems. Also, there used to be Dvorak programs and source on various MSDOS file archives that I've lost, but might still exist somewhere.

Back to Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard.


Last update: 15 September 2004
Original page established: 25 February 1996
Marcus Brooks:  HTML Home  Weblog