Mac OS X

Mac OS X has the two-handed Dvorak layout built in. Left and right one-handed layouts are easy to add to your system.

Selecting Layouts

Use the following steps to enable and select a Dvorak layout in Mac OS X:

  1. Select System Preferences in the Apple menu.

  2. Click the International icon.

  3. Click the Input Menu tab.

  4. In the list, check the check box next to the Dvorak keyboard that you want to add to the Input menu. The Input menu is visible as a flag icon in the right-hand part of the menu bar.

  5. Use the Input menu to select the active keyboard layout.

Apple provides two Dvorak layouts. The plain Dvorak layout is the same whether or not the command key is pressed. The "Dvorak QWERTY <command>" layout has command-keys in QWERTY.

For details about setting keyboard shortcuts and other input options, click the help icon (question mark) in the International preference panel.

Left- and Right-Hand Only Layouts

After World War II, Dr. Dvorak was asked to create one-handed layouts to be used by injured veterans. Apple did not include one-handed layouts in Mac OS, but a set of one-handed layouts was created in 1995 by Steve Ingram (of the now defunct Dvorak International). Use the following steps to add these layouts to your Mac OS X system:

  1. Download this file:

    DI Dvorak layouts 1.0.1.zip (9.9 KB)

  2. If the file is not extracted automatically to a folder, double click the zip file to extract it.

  3. In the Finder, open the DI Dvorak layouts 1.0.1 folder.

  4. Drag the DI one-hand ".rsrc" files into your Macintosh HD/Library/Keyboard Layouts folder.

  5. If System Preferences is open, close and re-open it.

  6. Select and use the new layout as described in "Selecting Layouts," above.

Note that the layout files in the above .zip archive have been renamed with a ".rsrc" extension for use in Mac OS X. (File extensions might be hidden.)

Thanks to Audra Morrison and Krishna Sethuraman for contributing to this section.


Mac OS 9 and Earlier

MacOS 8.5 and up have Dvorak layouts built in. Use the Keyboard control panel to select a layout. If you select more than one layout in the control panel, the selected layouts are listed in a menu on the right end of the menu bar. You can also enable a keyboard shortcut to switch between selected layouts.

For older Mac systems, a number of alternative Dvorak keymaps are available. I found most of the ones on this page at an old Info-Mac ftp mirror.

For System 7 and above, most keymaps can be installed by dropping the keymap icon onto the System folder. To switch keymaps, use the Keyboard control panel. Systems prior to MacOS 8.0 don't have a keyboard menu option (except via a ResEdit hack that I've forgotten), but System 7 does let you enable a keyboard shortcut to rotate through the installed keyboards. The catch is you have to copy your system file and pull out all the layouts you don't need. Some older Dvorak utilities provide other keyboard shortcuts for switching layouts.

The following archive files are meant for extraction with Stuffit Extractor or BinHex 4.0 on an older Mac system. I haven't tried all these. I mostly used the Dvorak International (DI) version. These layouts will not work in Mac OS X as provided.

di-dvorak-layouts-101.hqx (15 KB)
Dvorak International layouts for System 7 and up. The docs claim it is ANSI standard, but it actually has improved bracket placement. It includes Dvorak layouts for both hands and versions for left or right hand only.

dvorak-keyboard-de.hqx (14 KB)
German Dvorak layout. The description is also in German!

dvorak-keyboard.hqx (41 KB)
Electric Dvorak. Layouts with installer and FKEY switcher for older Mac systems. Also works for System 7. The docs have an old address for Dvorak International (now defunct).

q-dvorak-keyboard.hqx (9 KB)
QDvorak by Quinn. System 7 layout with some enhancements, especially for folks who want command-keys in QWERTY.

In the old days, if you were brave and you wanted to roll your own keymap arrangement, you could use Apple's ResEdit program to open a copy of your System file and modify the KCHR resource. Later versions of ResEdit had a neat interface for this, but don't ask me how to use it! (I'm a hex-dump kind of guy.) I don't know how it's done in Mac OS X.

Back to Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard.


Last update: July 30, 2009
Original page established: 25 February 1996
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