I have long been using and type blind on the Swiss German keyboard layout. At home I have an MS Sculpt Ergonomic with Swiss German keyboard layout, which I liked so well that I ordered a Sculpt Ergonomic for use at work. Problem is, you can't readily get the Swiss keyboard layout in the Czech Republic, where I am now. “No problem,” I thought, “I’ll just get the CZ version and type blind.” At work (Windows 10) the default system language is set as English using the Swiss German layout, and I can switch to Czech and other languages using Win key + space. This works just fine, and helps a bit with learning to type Czech, except that it turns out an important key is missing:

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Compare to the Swiss keyboard in the inset—you can imagine my consternation every time I am merrily typing away and get nothing or a Y whenever I go to type <, > or \. At the moment, I have three ways of entering a backslash:

  • Reach over to the (Czech) laptop keyboard, which has the missing key, and type AltGr + \.
  • Open Charmap or find the character somewhere else, copy and paste.
  • Switch to another language to input the character (e.g., Russian or use the onscreen keyboard with Czech), then switch back to EN + Swiss German.
  • Use Alt + 92 with the numeric keypad (or equivalent input code)

It’s the same situation for < and >. I asked a technically competent Czech how to type \ on the Czech keyboard, and he uses the latter option! Just imagine typing LaTeX code...

What I would like to figure out is how to type these characters without having to use alt codes or any other cumbersome method. It occurred to me there should be a way to reassign the characters to a less frequently used key. This would be useful for other keys too, like curly quotes and special dashes. A search turned up the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, which was released in 2007. Apparently, it does run in Windows 10, but before I start digging into that old program, I’m hoping: does anybody know a better way?

To think if I had learned Dvorak...

  • I sadly know of no better way if the key is really missing. Only workaround would be binding shortcuts to all special keys you need. I can however at least inform you that the keyboard layout creator to my knowledge indeed is still working fine in windows 10. – Syberdoor Dec 13 '17 at 15:17

AutoHotkey can be used for key reassignments if you have an alternate key or shortcut you'd like to use for the missing keys.

It will also let you use hotstrings for auto replacement instead of just a keyboard shortcut, so typing \gt or \lt to insert greater than or less than (vs. Alt+Z or something)

  • Hey, this looks good, thanks. I will play with it and update with my experience. But \ is not really a great escape character for me when at work! – Mike Chapman Dec 13 '17 at 15:26
  • It totally works. Using AutoHotkey: \ < >. Now I just need to figure out the right key combos and which interfere with existing Windows shortcuts. Thanks again, upvoted. – Mike Chapman Dec 13 '17 at 15:59

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