I am thinking if this is theoretically possible in any OS because I am typing myself Dvorak with the custom configuration: dead keys with scandinavian letters: A with dots, O with dots and A with circle. Alex Eagle's motivation on the topic is described 2009 here. I know no keyboard that has such a USB dongle built in:

An expensive keyboard with a hardware Qwerty/Dvorak switch on it will solve this problem for you, provided you’re happy to carry the darn thing to every computer you use. The QIDO isn’t cheap, but it’s not as expensive as any switchable keyboard I’ve found, and it’s an awful lot more portable.

The only things it won’t Dvorak-ise are computers that can’t accept a USB keyboard for whatever reason, and laptops. But you’ll probably be able to muddle along with operating-system keymap switching then, if you don’t face these situations too often.

I think the keyboard selection should be virtualised or something to make such a change in the operating system settings. Example of other USB dongle features:

  • Make sound of headphones 5 channel with USB dongle, etc HyperX Cloud II package comes with the dongle

There is the following product, QIDO, for the task here, but it is not universal, just one type of Dvorak. I sent email to the manufacturer about how much the device can be extneded for A with dots and O with dots.

QIDO - Qwerty to Dvorak USB Adapter (Qwerty-in > Dvorak-out > Portable USB Adapter)

It would really nice to get reviews of the device such that we can confirm if it can be used in the demanding settings such as hospitals and other places with high privacy concerns. One review here but no safety standards covered:

Since the QIDO can’t change the keycaps, though, I was having some trouble figuring out what real advantage it offers over the free alternative - just changing your operating system’s keymap.

It’s easy to add a Dvorak keymap in Windows - or Mac OS and Linux, for that matter - and then you can switch keymap in a couple of clicks. The QIDO makes switching even faster, but by and large it didn’t seem to me that it does anything that changing the keymap in the OS doesn’t do.


Security of high rank security places will not allow to change keyboard layout. I think the only chance to use the dongle there is to get some proof for its safety in privacy. How? (Question 2 below)

OR I need instructions about what to tell to the officers if I am found with such a dongle in high security places.

Open questions

  1. Will the dongle make changes in the OS keyboard layout? Will the system still show Qwerty when you type Dvorak?

  2. Will the system record and detect that a new USB dongle has been connected to the computer? Is there any standard that can prove that the dongle is safe and will not compromise privacy, for instance in hospitals?

Development threads

OS: Debian 9.1 Linux, Windows, OS X

  • 1
    Keyboard layout is going to be defined by the OS. How you get hardware approved in a secure environment is outside of the scope of Superuser. Most of your security questions are out side of the scope of Superuser, because not only cannot we not answer them because they depend on the environment (the highest secure environments I work with there isn't a process at all), but they that process is defined by the organization so there isn't a universal answer to those types of questions. – Ramhound Sep 14 '17 at 15:40

There are several parts to this question.

1) Can you make some kind of hardware that permutes keys from an USB keyboard as if it were a customized Dvorak keyboard?

Yes, you can. You can use any embedded computer that has both an USB host and a USB client port. However, you will have to write the software for that yourself: It's very unlikely that ready-made software for that exists. The software will have to translate HID events from the physical keyboards to the HID events corresponding to the Dvorak layout, but that is not very difficult.

2) Will you be allowed with your own private keyboard or your own piece of hardware that you can put between an existing USB keyboard and a PC in a high security place?

If the people who are responsible for security are not completely stupid, they will allow no extra hardware at all - no keyboards you carry with you, no commercial "dongles", no custom self-made "dongles". And you'll get on the watch list for even asking.

So if you are asking because you need a Dvorak layout in such a place, this is not a viable solution.


Keyboards dont send "keys" to the computers. They send scan codes (a hexadecimal number), which the OS interprets based on its keyboard layout settings. This scan code is the unique key that is pressed, and has nothing to do with its layout. This is why putting a dongle in the middle would not accomplish anything, as there is nothing to change.

  • You're not technically wrong, but you're thinking about this in a different way such that you believe he is incorrect and what he says is impossible. But that is not so! The point is that the dongle would substitute new scan codes based on the layout of the keys on the Dvorak keyboard. – AuralArch Apr 4 at 23:20
  • For example, let's say he types the key sequence that on a Dvorak keyboard produces "hello". That creates a sequence of scan codes: 0x24 0x20 0x19 0x19 0x1f (make/break/up/down actions ignored for simplicity). But that sequence of scan codes are rendered by the keyboard layout driver as: "jdpps" And we can not change the keyboard layout driver. So the dongle intercepts the scan codes and sends the codes needed to render "hello" with the current keyboard settings, which are 0x23 0x12 0x26 0x26 0x18. – AuralArch Apr 4 at 23:21
  • It IS possible, and it's actually quite simple. But that isn't his problem. He already knows that. – AuralArch Apr 4 at 23:22

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