A World Guide to Keyboarding Tutorials and Software
A Scotsman who tooted bagpipes
Tried to tutor two pipers to type.
Said the two to the tutor,
“Is it harder to toot, or
To tutor two typists to pipe?”
Were your two typing teachers named Mr. Hunt and Miss Peck? Tired of typos? Want to type faster? Did you just get a Dvorak keyboard, or need to type in a new language? Or do you want to help your kids (or your students) learn how to type? If you do serious emailing, writing, blogging, editing, transcription, note-taking, data entry or word processing, you really should learn to type or learn how to type faster.
Here are typing tutors for every person, on the web and off, ranging from venerable older commercial programs that have researched and improved their instruction over decades, to slapped-together typing tests.
Also included below is a unique collection of resources for one-handed typists. Before you go through the list, here are ten criteria you should use to evaluate whether these typing programs can meet your particular needs:
10 Criteria for Judging Typing Tutors
- Typing tests are not all equal. Some use random text strings, other real words; some add punctuation and even numbers which can slow your speed. Some allow you to import texts from sites like Project Gutenberg or news sites. Don’t rely on just one test.
- See if the tutorials are age specific. A few programs teach as young as five-year-olds how to type (presumably before they start serious reading).
- Do you prefer gaming? Some have interesting and fun games.
- Or you prefer the Joe Friday approach, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” (There’s a Boomer age-typecasting reference for ya!) Forget the frills, just teach me how.
- Are there ideas on how to type safely? (The three occupations where you are most likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome are typing, playing musical instruments, and meatpacking. I haven’t done meatpacking yet.)
- What keyboards are supported? If you use anything but an English-language QWERTY keyboard, look to see if yours is supported. Any keyboard will work for most speed tests, though.
- Is your language included? Many of these programs support different languages. (Also do a Google or Bing search in your native language for resources.)
- Is there instruction on using numbers, punctuation and the 10-key keypad?
- Are there alternative techniques. For example, Stamina Typing Tutor teaches an alternate hand position (rather than the usual home row technique), which might be good for people with repetitive motion injuries. We’ve also included an entire section for one-handed typing.
- Do you teach typing? There are sites and programs with specific tools for teaching and recording students’ progress.
Online Typing Tutors and Tests
Some of these programs may require special software, such as Flash, Shockwave or Java, or might not work equally well in all browsers..
Online Instruction for Children
The BBC offers Dance Mat Typing for ages 7-11 – which is an attractive site with different animal characters teaching different rows and key characters. It also offers downloadable worksheets for off-line practice. Makes me want to be a kid again! Requires Flash.
Also for younger learners, e-Learning for Kids has several tutorials for kids for learning keyboarding basics, plus lots of other courses on math, science and language arts.
Glencoe’s Online Keyboarding by textbook publisher McGraw-Hill also offers lessons for students – including a certificate for each level you can turn in to a teacher. It requires that Shockwave Player from Adobe be installed.
Learn 2 Type has typing tests and tutorials, all free, for ages five to adult. Includes discussion boards, Facebook announcements, ten key number tests, a variety of keyboard patterns, and school and teacher tools.
Typing Adventure includes tutorials and games to engage students with its online tools. Parents can also try a 30-day trial. School students can log in from home to play and learn, too.
Alfa Typing offers free typing instruction for grades K-12 for QWERTY keyboards only. It has teacher resources, too. Users can log-in with their Facebook ID. The site has two videos describing the program.
Typequick is an Australian-based online typing tutor with programs for adults and students, in Australian-British English, US English, Chinese and Japanese. It’s available through subscription at AUS$30 for six months.
ABCYa offers a Keyboarding Zoo gaming software to teach kids, Grades K-5, letters and the keyboard. They also offer a variety of other educational games.
BigBrownBear is a British site offering elementary key identification and typing for kids.
Learning Games for Kids offers a variety of elementary typing games for children. It also has links to other educational and homeschooling resources.
Homegrown Learners offers TypeKids, with 30 lessons for about ten weeks of instruction on typing for grade school students. The site also has lots of other Christian-oriented homeschooling resources.
Typing Club offers totally free typing training for individuals and schools. Register (for free) and the program will keep track of your progress. The site will also start offering some fee-based services for schools, but individuals are guaranteed free and ad-free access.
Typing Web also offers free lessons for individuals and schools (and home schooling, apparently). It does have ads. The screen shots look very attractive. There are some premium services for teachers. It is available for English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and, apparently, Chinese.
Online Tutorials for Older Typists (and Kids, too)
Keybr.com offers tutorials and a speed test. Its use of unreal (English-like or other language) words annoys me because I keep having to double-check the correct spelling before typing. But it does force you to really read the text to type it.
PowerTyping free online typing tutor offers tutorials for QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards, with games and speed tests. Tutorials include typing random lists of characters, depending on the lesson. It includes a music player for typing to rhythms and five typing games for kids. I found the number row exercises to be fairly grueling! Good for adults if you’re disciplined enough to go through the tests.
Sense-lang.org offers individual tutorials, classroom instruction, games, premium courses (not free), and a wide selection of languages and keyboards to work with.
Peter’s Online Typing Course appears to offer some logical lessons, including Principles of Effective Learning, and Typing Ergonomics – which many trainers ignore.
GoodTyping offers 27 lessons in English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian using 18 different keyboard layouts, all free, all online. The typing test offers real text, not just random words.
TypeOnline.co.UK No frills and some confusing features, but good basic training.
Touch Typing Technology offers an online collection of 20 lessons which avoid games, but add rhythmic exercises to the teaching mix, for schools and companies as well as individuals. It apparently offers courses in English, Arabic, German, Spanish and Hebrew. (I suspect English isn’t the first language for the website’s designers.) You can take a typing test and try a demo for free before signing up for the online classes.
Online Typewriter offers very basic, free tutorials for beginning typists. Apparently ported from German, the site looks a bit dated, but it should work. (Note to the owners: most kids today have never seen a typewriter!)
Touch Typing Study doesn’t look like a lot, but it has a series of 15 lesson, each with its own drills, tests, plus a few games. And it’s free.
ARTypist has free online tutorials, a speed test, and games.
GoodTyping offers 27 guided lessons, for 23 keyboard layouts, all free on the web for English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Register to measure your progress. Donations accepted.
Your Typing Tutor has tools for learning QWERTY, but it specializes in US Dvorak, Programmer Dvorak, UK Dvorak, German Dvorak II and Colemak keyboards. You can also add your own layout. Some aspects of the site look like a beta test project, but if you need Dvorak or Colemak keyboard support, check this out!
Type Scout is a Chrome-based typing tutorial featuring games.
Type Fu Typing training is a typing program for Chrome, Chrome OS, and Mac OSX. It has exercises for letters, numbers and words and features quotes and proverbs. It has options for various keyboards: QWERTY, Qwertz, Azerty, Dvorak, Colemak, and Workman. It’s available on the Mac App Store and the Chrome Web Store.
NetType offers a variety of lessons and games. There is a free online demo version, a 3-month free Lite subscription, and paid Standard and Premium versons. There is live support available (presumably during business hours.) When I tried the demo, it seemed to get confused about which language I wanted to use, so try before you buy.
Max Type LITE Typing Tutor supports Qwerty, Dvorak, Azerty and Russian keyboard layouts.
Touch Typing Study offers 15 free online typing tutorials in a wide range of languages, including (if I can read them correctly) English, Afrikaans, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Catalan, Danish, German, Greek, Spanish, Estonian, Finnish, French, Gaelic, Hungarian, Indonesian, Icelandic, Italian, Javanese, Latvian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Slovak, Swedish, Filipino, Turkish, Vietnamese and several other languages I can’t even recognize. It’s unclear if the instruction uses only the QWERTY keyboard or localized keyboards for the different languages.
The adult education site Alison.com offers a Touch Type Training module which appears to be a no-nonsense, no-games approach to typing.
Free Typing Tests and Timers
Most typing sites and programs have speed tests already, but here are a couple more options.
10FastFingers offers a simple typing test of random words (no numbers) for timing. It tells you number of strokes, correct words, errors, and rates you with other typists in the past 24 hours. Not a full tutor, but an OK timer. (I got a personal best of 77 wpm!)
Many of the online typing resources are terrific, but some of these installable programs offer more features and options. Plus, of course, you can use them without Internet access on a secure computer.
The Rapid Typing Zone offers free, downloadable software (for Windows or emulators), online games and tutorials, versions for more keyboards than I knew existed (QWERTY, Dvorak, Dvorak for left or right hand, BEPO, Colemak, QWERTZ, AZERTY, ABNT2 and others). The interface is colorful and approachable for both students and adults, and is available in 25 languages! There’s also a version to install on a USB portable drive if you use a variety of computers (say, in a library). If you don’t like what it offers, the site also offers a page with links to other online and downloadable typing tutors and games.
Stamina Typing Tutor for Windows sounds like a boot-camp typing program, but it actually offers lots of options for a free program – including the ability to use QWERTY (US, UK), Dvorak, and AZERTY keyboards, plus the option to learn an unique alternative hand position to type that puts less stress on the hands than the usual home row system. It also offers background pictures, background music, and options for 20 languages!
Kiran’s Typing Tutor is also a Windows program, advertising 500 practice lessons and 500 testing lessons. Also a kids’ version for 4- to 8-year-olds with four games, and numeric training.
Amphetype for Linux with versions for Macs and Windows, includes lots of analysis and graphs.
KTouch – Free, open source software, but Linux only.
KeyBlaze Typing Tutor Software (free version) for Windows and Macs. The Plus version sells for $40, but is half-off though July 15, 2013. It’s for younger typists as well as adults.
Tipp 10 is a free typing tutor for Windows, Macs and Linux, plus a newer online version.
Klavaro Touch Typing Tutor is primarily Linux (various flavors) plus a Windows version.
Kids’ Typing Skills for Windows. The company also offers programming, math and other tutorials for students.
Gabe’s Typometer features typing statistics in a speed-dial format.
Max Type Pro Typing Tutor includes games and tutorials in English, French, German and Russian “ЙЦУКЕН” keyboards! It is free for individual use with commercial licenses available for multiple installations.
Cowboy with Keyboard is a free Windows typing game. This is another product that, apparently, once had a website but is now available on several free software sites.
Homemade Typing and Homemade Math have been made free by the author, if you can figure out his instructions for substituting characters in the license code. The author has probably decided to make the software free instead of updating it.
Economical Downloadable Typing Tutorials (mostly Windows)
There are lots of fairly inexpensive programs for teaching software. A few have been around since the 90s and may be a bit dated but functional. Some are shareware (you try it and, if you like it, you pay for it). Others have a trial program you can try and then upgrade. Note that many of the top-line commercial software typing tutors are often sold online at a discount – so if you’re being asked to plunk down more than US$14, you should compare them with the commercial programs, too, listed below.
KP Typing Tutor is shareware.
Type Faster Typing Tutor also supports right-to-left languages, and numeric keypad instruction.
Type Scout appears to be designed mainly for school instruction. Attractively designed, students can log in and teachers can monitor their progress. There are some games and exercises you can try for free and its available for several languages.
Touch Typing offers a free downloadable demo program to try out. If you like it, download Touch Typing Pro for $24.90. (Prices may vary for British and Australian currencies.)
Master Key offers a downloadable tutorial program for Macintosh and Windows computers. $18 for individuals; discounts for multiple installations, including a network version.
Professor PC Typing Tutor is mainly for schools and home instructors, but can be bought for personal use, $9.95. A free trial download is available.
XT Typing Tutor no longer has its own site, but is available as shareware from a variety of software sites (including Softpedia, the link here). It teaches traditional typing technique, but its claim to fame is a classical guitar technique inspiration to teach an alternative technique which also uses thumbs on the keyboard (not just the space bar). $17.95 after a free trial.
Keyboard Master II offers some tutorials and games for learning in structured lessons or just play the games. $29 or 19 Euros. There’s also a server version.
Typing Queen apparently offers 20 typing lessons and several games for school instruction in German and English. You can try the demo for free.
Active Typing advertises “a complete touch typing course with 14 chapters” along with games, a smart review wizard and progress graphs for $9.90. It apparently has not been updated for some time, so I suggest you try the free demo before plunking down any (digital) cash.
Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor offers a free online typing test, but it’s unclear what you pay for and what you get as far as tutorials. (You need a Java plugin in your browser to take the test, though.) Ten Thumbs is probably correct that it’s the only typing tutor that gives you guidance from a (cartoon) Viking. The cost is $29.95 to download the program which works on Windows, Macintosh and Linux. The guided tour suggests the program is for younger typists (and any others who find taking instruction from a cartoon Viking attractive).
Elite Typing is a PC program that appears to be a bit long in the tooth. (The site doesn’t seem to have been updated significantly since 2009.) The site also appears to be a bit grammar-challenged, but they’re selling typing skills, not grammar skills. The graphics seem dated, too, but you can download a trial copy to see if it works and if it is useful.
Letter Chase Typing Tutor is another Windows program that’s been around the block a few times, but it’s been upgraded for Windows 7, at least. Again, there’s a free trial version you can download to try. They also offer Letter Chase Speed Reader. A single user can purchase it for $19.50 and multi-user versions are available for schools and business.
FasType Typing Tutorial. When the latest version of Windows that a program is optimized for is XP, you know you’re looking at an older program! Same if the program’s original web link gets only an error message, but it’s listed in the major free and shareware software distributors. In spite of this FasType Typing Tutorial asks for $25 for the program – which might make sense if you’re using an older computer with XP or earlier Windows.
Animated Beginning Typing is for children pre-K to 3rd grade on Windows computers. It offers drills and games and various levels. The publisher also offers many other educational packages, so parents might find it worth a look, but the programs might be a bit dated compared to their iOS and Android and online competitors.
Captain Keyboard 3 suffers from a conundrum. If you are old enough to remember the video game Space Invaders, you might want to try this similar typing game just for fun; if you are too young to remember Space Invaders (and probably most people born in the past 45 years are), you probably won’t be impressed by this game or pay $19.95 for it.
Commercial Typing Tutors
These programs should offer complete typing lessons and analysis. Prices below are list prices, but you may find reduced prices on Amazon and many other online retailers.
UltraKey 6, by Bytes of Learning, eschews games, but has versions for individuals, families, teachers, adults, college students, and technologists. (Technologists don’t fit in the other categories?) For Macs and PC users, it also has cloud student management for teachers and employers and offers teachers posters, keyboard covers (so students can’t peek), and more. Prices start at $39.95.
Ultimate Typing 2013 offers tutorials, exercises, instructional videos, and 16 games and activities, and a money-back guarantee with an extra $50 on top of that! (Typing beginners are guaranteed to triple their speed, experienced typists to increase their speed by 35%.) It costs $29.95.
Typing Instructor offers both Windows and Mac versions and also web browser-based programs for adults and children, that you can buy for a week, a month, 3 months, or a year (starting at $3.95 for a week, going to $29.95 for a year). The series covers over 20 typing courses, multi-level games, tutorials with voice-over instructions, and more. The downloadable software comes in a range of packages for kids, adults, schools and businesses. The site advertizes a free typing webinar, but the last one was scheduled for 2011! Also, the last press release available on the site dates from 2009. The website doesn’t appear to have been updated recently, so one wonders about the software, too.
Mavis Beacon Typing seems to have been around nearly back to the invention of the typewriter. It reportedly has the largest number of typing exercises but no video or online tutorials, although it does offer a free online typing game on Facebook. PC and Mac versions cost $29.99. Their website also offers typing trivia. (Did you know stewardesses is the longest word you can type with just the left hand, and lollipop with only the right?) For children from 7 to tweens, Mavis Beacon for Kidz is available for $19.99. You also have to like the fact that it’s probably the only software named after a woman named Mavis.
Typing Quick and Easy 17 for Windows is also a venerable, if less full-featured program. I was not able to find an owner’s web site for the software, but it is available through many retailers. Amazon, for example, sells it for considerably less than its $19.99 list price ($13.95), and you can find free demo versions if you search. (You can download a 7-day trial from cnet.com here.) It has over 50 lessons plus tutorials, timed and untimed tests, feedback and analysis, progress reports that even report on accuracy for each finger, and eight games.
Typing Master offers a free typing test with some free tutorials. The system includes drills, tutorials, reports, and games. You can then choose whether to purchase the Typing Master Pro for $39.90. There are services for schools and businesses, too. There’s also a Typing Master Lite option for free for using Trial Pay. In general, it appears to be a good no-frills typing tutor. It’s most unique feature is the additional Satellite software which analyzes your typing outside the program and then makes suggestions on how to improve your typing. At least one review says that, although the software works well, it looks antiquated and needs a make-over. Since it costs only five cents less than the most expensive program in this category, its pricing seems uncompetitive.
One-Handed Typing Resources
Whether you have only one hand, or you are developing repetitive stress injury in one hand, or you simply want to type one-handed, I’ve discovered there is a growing list of resources for one-handed typing.
Frogpad is an impressive collection of hardware and software tools for one-handed typists. It has special keyboards (for righties and lefties, and is taking orders for a new Bluetooth model), and software to type one-handed on QWERTY keyboards, 10-key pads, iPads and iPhones and Apple Magic Trackpads. It has an online video, a tutorial, plus manuals in English, French, and German.
Lily Walter’s One-Hand Typing is Windows software to teach users to type one-handed. It has modules for practice, standard exercises, statistical reports, including which keys are more difficult for you, and five games. It’s a PC alternative to some of Frogpad’s Apple-based resources.
About One Hand Typing is a collection of resources for one-handed typists, including printed books, CD-based books, software and smaller QWERTY-style keyboards for children or adults (one-handed or two).
Free Typing Tutorials and more has a written tutorial on the basics of typing one-handed on a QWERTY keyboard as well as written tutorials for two-handed typists, discussions on ergonomics, assistive technologies, and speech recognition, plus links to other specialty resources for typists.
Five Finger Typist offers a software tutor for typing on a QWERTY keyboard with one hand for Windows and Macintosh.
The Matias Corporation offers specialty keyboards of all kinds, including a Dvorak keyboard, quiet keyboards, a small keyboard, a one-hand keyboard, a one- or two-handed keyboard, and many other hardware products. Some are expensive, though.
One Hand Typing Options is a short YouTube video discussing one-handed typing options, including speech recognition.
Both one-handed and two-handed Android users can also download and try Swype, which is an alternate keyboard for Android phone and tablet users that uses the movement between keys (with one finger), rather than tapping, to spell words. It learns as you use it and can be quite effective. Apple’s refusal to allow Swype keyboards for iPads and iPhones is inexplicable and disappointing.
Dragon Naturally Speaking is another great resource for non-typists that should be considered.
A quick Google or Bing search for “one-handed typing” will turn up more resources, too.
Other Special and Unique Resources
Better Typing offers software to create an online keyboard, with colored rows for the appropriate fingers, to see your keyboard on screen. It includes a spelling checker. It is an old program, though, so try before you buy. The site also offers a similar tool for one-handed typists who use the traditional QWERTY keyboard or the Frogpad one-handed keyboard (see above).
Chester Creek offers a full color-coded keyboard, with keypad, to help typists learn touch typing (for those who prefer to peek at the keys). At $25.95, it’s reasonably priced, too. The site also offers child-sized keyboards and software (including pre-school tools), senior tools, large-key assistive tools, and much more.
The site The Typing Playground offers links to typing games (for adults and children), speed tests, tutors, and a Keyboarding Directory of written resources, hardware, and teaching resources (but not all the links worked when I tried).
TypingSoft.com offers what appears to be a comprehensive list of typing tutors, speed tests, games, for free and shareware (but not commercial) programs.
Youtube is also a good resource for videos on many aspects of typing, using alternate keyboards, and much more. Good if you want an overview or a quick tutorial without the drills, games and reports found in typing tutors.
The PDF ebook Typing Without Repetitive Strain is available from http://www.rsifree.com/.
The SuperKids website offers comparisons of some software for teaching typing to children.
The Hosting Reviews website offers a page of information and links Learn to Type on the Web: A Review for Students and Professionals.
Ask A Tech Teacher offers a list of 18 Online Keyboard Sites for Kids. A quick glance shows that most of them are listed above, but there may be a few others.
What typing instructors or resources have you used? Add to the list in the comments!
Many of the resources here were taken from http://typingsoft.com/all_typing_tutors.htm#Miracle Type. Also http://typingsoft.com/all_typing_tutors.htm#Stamina.
GCF Learn Free – 5 Free Sites for Learning How to Type
10TopTenReviews of commercial typing software.
Educational Freeware reviewed its top five typing software picks.
Photos and Illustrations:
Opening hand position diagram is from Free Typing Tutorials.
“George Weinmann, sitting and working on a trypewriter at a desk,” for the Chicago Daily News, Inc. No date or photographer listed. From the Chicago History Museum via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
Tutorial screen shot from e-Learning for Kids.
“Chimpanzee seated at a typewriter,” photographer unknown, May 19, 1906. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
“Instructions on how to use The Blickensderfer Typewriters” from documentation by the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company. This typewriter was invented by George Canfield Blickensderfer, and used a rotating type cylinder, similar to the later IBM Selectrics. He also invented an electric typewriter in 1902. If these typewriters had been even more successful, we’d be typing on DHIATENSOR keyboards instead of QWERTY keyboards.
Screenshot from Max Type Pro.
“Woman seated with Underwood typewriter,” 1918, photographer unknown. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
“Classroom session with typewriters Washington School for Secretaries,” photographed by Theodor Horydczak (1890-1971).
“Miss Remington,” Copyright 1908 by The Remington Typewriter Company.
Keyboard illustration for the Magic Frogpad System (one-handed digital keyboard).
“First typewriter,” from the Bain News Service, ca. 1890s. It’s not clear who’s first typewriter it is, though.