I do a bit of Objective-C, Matlab and Python, and start to get tired of the keyboard I use (AZERTY). It is far from being optimal as one need to press ALT+SHIFT+( to get [ for example. I think of buying a new keyboard for programming and QWERTY keyboards seem to be an obvious choice (my guess is that these language/environment were developed with such keyboards).

Which keyboard/keyboard layout allow a direct access to programming keys, such as [, { or | for example?

  • 1
    Which keyboards will let you type [] and other common symbols used in programming with the less effort than French/Belgian Azerty seems more like a question of fact rather than opinion, so perhaps the hold is not needed. Oct 15, 2014 at 23:47
  • @Tom Gewecke - couldn't write a better comment than yours - and can't see how to formulate a more factual question (will try though). but it seems that my three-finger combos are an opinion!
    – marsei
    Oct 16, 2014 at 8:51
  • Related question on programmers.stackexchange about specific keyboards (web)
    – marsei
    Oct 16, 2014 at 12:25
  • Use Ukelele to remap the numeric row with characters you use the most such as { [ ( < ! - / without pressing shift, then assign the numbers to the shift layer, or if you don't mind, just use the numeric keypad. Dvorak favors hand alternation, so frequent typed pairs are positioned in different hands. Other layouts such as arensito favor finger rolling, so frequent pairs use the same hand in an inward motion. Feb 12, 2021 at 22:13

3 Answers 3


Most people use QWERTY, just because it is the most popular, but if you’re learning a new layout anyway you might want to try Dvorak.

If you don’t want to learn another alphabetic layout, you can use a tool like Ukelele to make a better programming layout for the special characters while still keeping AZERTY for the rest of the keys.

  • Dvorak indeed (wikipedia). There is even a French speaking group promoting a keyboard dedicated to both writing/programming (called BEPO). Thanks!
    – marsei
    Oct 16, 2014 at 12:23

I made a custom azerty keyboard layout for this: https://github.com/r03/azerty/

The layout is a combination of the normal Belgian azerty and the Apple azerty. I also mapped the {} keys to an easier location next to the enter key.

Keyboard Layout


You can try Colemak.

It is less different from QWERTY and AZERTY then Dvorak so you will have the most used keyboard shortcuts +X, +C, +V in same place and +Q, +W, +A, +Z on the left side identical to QWERTY (though not AZERTY).

[, ], {, } and | are at the same places as in QWERTY.

Also check typing effort comparison of QWERTY, Dvorak and Colemak.

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