Photo Credit: Windows Report
The use of number pads dates back to the days of large desktop calculators. You might be better off without one, or without one that is affixed to your keyboard permanently.
Countless keyboards have built-in number pads, and your own may even have one at this very moment. They have a grid layout for quickly entering numbers, which made the switch from desktop computers to calculators less difficult. Even though many people only use the number row, it has remained a constant in PC keyboards over the years.
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Number pads are undoubtedly beneficial for many individuals, especially those who work with Excel or play PC games with custom bindings and macros, so I’m not suggesting they’re evil or shouldn’t exist. However, there is typically a cost associated with them: ergonomics.
There are a few simple things you can do to make working at a computer more comfortable and less physically taxing, such as sitting up straight in your chair, avoiding sitting too near to the monitor, keeping your hands at or below elbow level, etc. According to the Mayo Clinic, “proper office ergonomics — including correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing, and good desk posture — can help you and your joints stay comfortable at work.”
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Additionally, pay attention to where your arms are placed. They should ideally be directly in front of you, but using a full-sized keyboard with number pads can make that much more challenging. The home cluster and number pad take up space on your right hand’s mouse when you utilize it. That either entails moving the mouse further to the right or pushing the keyboard further to the left. Both alternatives cause your arms to rest at an awkward position as you use your computer, which might get painful after a while.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for getting rid of or relocating the number pad. Many desktop keyboards—often referred to as 80% size, “Tenkeyless,” or TKL—retain a spacious layout but do without the number pad. Even more compact versions are also popular because not everyone requires the function row, home cluster, or even separated arrow keys. Since I don’t do a lot of math, I don’t really miss the number pad on my smaller MX Keys Mini.
Additionally, you can purchase a dedicated number pad that can be kept on the opposite side of the keyboard from your mouse or stored away when not in use. A simple solution that connects is the Microsoft Number Pad.