There is a fair share of people out there, particularly ladies, who love keeping long nails as part of their style. However, keeping up with this trend often becomes a nuisance if you are someone who types a lot.
A bad physical keyboard design can not only cause straining of nails, but it may also make your fingers slip amid the keys and thus hindering your typing accuracy and speed.
While there aren’t any particular set of keyboards dedicated or marketed for long nails, there are certain feature sets instead that you can look into that can help you.
In this article, we will review some of the best keyboards for long nails taking into consideration their features, value, and reviews. We also look at some of the important characteristics you should consider in them.
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What to Look For in the Best Keyboards for Long Nails?
There are a few chief aspects you should consider when purchasing a keyboard so that typing and long nails can go together.
Low Actuation Force and Shorter Travel Distance are Paramount
The two most important parameters when choosing a keyboard suitable for long nails are that it should have as low actuation force as possible and should have a shorter travel distance.
Key travel distance (before it actuates) can reach 4mm or beyond. We want them to be at around 2mm or lower. The shorter the key travel distance, the more responsive they will feel for your long nails.
Secondly, the force required to actuate should not exceed 65gf. Of course, the lower the better.
Preferred Keyboard Types
When choosing a keyboard that specifically suits typing with long nails, two types are preferred:
1. Low Profile / Scissor Switch Membrane Keyboard (Chiclet)
This type of keyboard is indicated by low-profile, rectangular keys resembling chiclets chewing gum. The keys have some spacing between them.
These are generally MOST preferred by those with long nails because they have the shortest height from the base and also the shortest actuation point. On top of that, a quality keyboard with scissor switches requires minimal force to actuate.
Hence what you get is an experience that is fast, comfortable, and puts less strain on your fingernails.
The issue with the alternate option i.e the Dome shaped keys, is that the long nails can sometimes slip into the crevices and can thus prove to be annoying.
With low-profile chiclet keyboards, your finger can literally fly across the keys particularly if you have a quality keyboard with soft keys.
2. Low-Profile Mechanical Keyboard
Mechanical keyboards are generally not preferred due to their significant size and height from the base making them difficult to actuate with long nails.
HOWEVER, mechanical keyboards having low-profile switches, albeit rare, can certainly be preferred for typing with long nails, particularly by gamers. Again, these keyboards are rare, but if you look hard enough you can find them.
Mechanical keyboards are often liked over regular membrane-based keyboards because they generally have a responsive and tactile typing experience.
They have good feedback which makes them great for touch typing and you get to choose what kind of switch you want i,e hard or light.
Mechanical Keyboards Are Generally Costlier
In general, membrane-based keyboards cost less than mechanical keyboards. However, a good low-profile scissor-switch membrane keyboard can cost more than an average mechanical keyboard.
This is because a good scissor-switch membrane keyboard is a masterpiece for typists. These are perhaps the fastest keyboards around.
If you have ever used a good quality keyboard on a laptop, then you will have a good idea about the general typing experience on scissor switches.
However, you can opt for a quality mechanical keyboard with low-profile switches that is actually cost-saving.
Slim with Large Surface Area Preferred
For working with long nails, compactness is not what we are after. Instead, slim keyboards with a large surface area are preferred. This would make sure that the keys are easily reachable and allow accurate typing.
The metal construction of keyboards such as aluminum is also an aspect that you can consider. It would make the device sturdier and further adds to its durability – albeit this is not an absolute necessity in this case.
Keyboard Options for Long Nails
Again, membrane-based scissor keys chiclet-style keyboards are highly recommended for long nails. However, not all chiclet-style keyboards are made the same.
Some can actually have a very hard actuation force requirement which would beat the purpose of having the shallow keys.
Hence, always look for quality and trusted keyboards. Also, it may help to have the keys that are dished to match the contours of the fingertips for better accuracy.
Low Profile | Chiclet/Scissor | Dished Keys | Tactile | Illuminated | Wireless
61gf operating force (light)
1.3mm / 1.9mm Pre-Travel / Total Distance (short)
Not only is the keyboard chassis thin and slim, but the keys are also shallow scissor switches thus making them easier to press if you have long nails.
Again, to clarify, as per the standard set by Rtings.com,
- 45 gf or lower force is very light
- 45-65 gf force is light
- 65 gf of force or higher is heavy
The 1.3mm pre-travel distance and 1.9mm total distance (the key travels) is considered a very short distance.
However, quality demands a high budget and not everyone has top dollar to dish out for a keyboard. As such Logitech MX Keys may not be for everyone.
Hence when sticking with the budget price tag, you can keep the same principles of shallow, low-height keys in mind, but of course, you will not find the lightest keys or the shortest travel distance in the budget category.
Low Profile | Chiclet/Scissor | Wireless
68gf operating force (slightly heavy)
1.8mm / 2.4mm Pre-Travel / Total Distance (long)
Low Profile | Chiclet/Scissor | Wireless
And finally, there are also the rare mechanical keyboard options with shallow and slim keys, albeit they are super expensive in comparison.
Low Profile | Mechanical | Wireless
54gf operating force (light)
1.6mm / 2.7mm Pre-Travel / Total Distance (Medium)
Low Profile | Mechanical | Wireless
Not only are low-profile mechanical keyboards with shallow keys rarer, but to find one with a low actuation force and key travel distance is golden.
Note, operating force and travel distance parameters taken from Rtings.com
How to Type Effectively with Long Nails on a Keyboard?
Whether you actually have long nails or are using fake nails, there are some techniques and tips that you should keep in mind to type effectively.
1. Typing with Finger Pads over Finger Tips is Preferred
Generally typing with finger pads is more preferred over typing with the tip of the nail. The finger pad is the underside of the end of the finger.
For starters, this saves your nails from damage that may occur from repetitive key presses.
Secondly, a finger pad can give you a better grip and thus improve your accuracy over time.
In contrast to the finger pads, a nail has short contact with the keys and also has lower friction which can harm accuracy.
This is even more pronounced depending on the shape of your nail. For instance, a pointy fingernail shape has the least contact surface area with the key.
However, on the flip side, for many, typing with the finger pads can actually be hard depending upon the size of the nails.
In that case, you can type with your fingernails but just make sure you have a keyboard with soft shallow keys with low actuation points.
2. Posture and Position Matters
You may have to adjust your wrist position and the angle at which your fingers actuate the keys. You may also have to adjust the position and angle of your keyboard.
Instead of having to press directly down, you may have to adapt a posture whereby your hands are relaxed straight on the keyboard and your fingers more or less pointing straight.
Think how you would press a key on a Piano, that is more or less the posture that you may have to adapt particularly if you type with your finger pads instead of your nails.
3. Practice is the Only Way
If you had been typing your whole life with short fingernails and if you suddenly switch to wearing fake acrylic nails to type with then, well, you need to practice of course.
You need to condition yourself to the new wrist position and posture of your hands.
To practice, accuracy should be the primary focus. You must first type accurately and as you practice, the speed will also improve.