I've had a Moonlander for a while now, and while it's been great for my hands ergonomically, I didn't feel like I've used it to its full potential.

So I spent a weekend or so finally putting something together that I'm pretty happy with, and I'm gonna talk about it here! ``


The thing I wanted to capitalize on most was using the Moonlander's ability to have multiple Keyboard "layers." If you're unfamiliar, what this basically means is that when you press a key, hold a key, or double tap a key, you can change to a different layer, which then changes some or all of the keys on the keyboard. I have the following layers set up:

  • Layer 0: The Default Keyboard
  • Layer 1: Symbols
  • Layer 2: Media
  • Layer 3: Nav
  • Layer 4: Function
  • Layer 5: Numpad
  • Layer 6: Lighting
  • Layer 7: Colemak
  • Layer 8: GAEMING

After this, I made it so that holding a particular key will activate a particular layer. Further explanation, ho!

If I hold the semi-colon key with my pinky finger, I'll get sent to Layer 3 for navigation.

Holding this key turns the J, K, L and I keys into the arrow keys. The U and O keys turn into the Home and End keys. And if I wanna go really fast, the Y and H keys turn into PgUp and PgDn.

Numpad

On the left-hand side of my keyboard, if I hold down the A key with my pinky finger, the Layer 5 key for the Numpad gets activated.

This turns the right-hand side of my keyboard into an entire numpad like you'd see on a full-size board! Also, I use lighting to show which keys are active.

Function

Holding down the S key turns on the Function keys! They're laid out just like the Numpad to help keep my muscle memory useful.

Mouse & Media

The L key activates the Media layer. When held down, my lefthand keyboard turns into a mouse. The SDFE keys move the mouse left, down, right, and up just as it would a character in a game, while the W and R keys let me wheel scroll up and down. The big keys that my thumb rests on turn into the left, right and middle mouse clicks too. I spend significantly less time and friction reaching for my mouse this way!

The righthand keyboard turns into Media buttons, letting me play, pause, and skip whatever media is currently active: I'm trying to refine this more, as sometimes the media button will start playing some YouTube tab I have paused instead of pausing the music I already have playing - but that's an OS issue, not a keyboard one.

Symbols

Holding down the K key activates the Symbols layer.

This is probably the wonkiest setup but it works for me. It's a cluster. A personal cluster, but a cluster nonetheless. The main thing was putting the brackets next to each other - as someone who does a lot of programming and markdown writing, having them so close to or on the home row has been very helpful. But you could play around with this setup!

GAEMING

This layout so far has been great for "productivity," but what about when it's time to do the most important thing you could do: go gaemer mode? There's a layer for that.

The key at the bottom of my lefthand board turns on GAEMER mode. This mode basically turns off all the held keys on that side of the board, leaving you with a relatively standard WASD + L-Shift + L+Ctrl + Ratio board to work with while you. I dunno. Bang that bear in Baldur's Gate 3 or whatever. Damn I'm dating the hell out of this post but that's fine lol.

Lighting + Etc.

This layer lets you do fancy Moonlander stuff like changing the brightness of your keys, colors, yadda yadda. I don't touch this one often, if ever, so it's relegated to a Toggle key, which I'll talk about in a bit.

Colemak

One time a coworker needed my computer to do something urgent. He was more familiar with Colemak than QWERTY. I dunno, man. Anyways, now I'll never get caught out like that again. This keyboard serves all kinds of nerds. But it does turn off the layer shortcuts. That's what you get for being a turbo nerd.

Toggles

I set the inner keys as buttons that let me permanently activate a particular layer if I don't want to hold a button to turn that layer on: for example, if I'm doing a lot of calculations, I'll just press the "5" to activate Layer 5 without holding the A key down.


So that's my new layout! I actually feel like I'm getting real use out of my Moonlander now. I found a way to use Layers effectively, without increasing my cognitive load too much. It took me about two weeks to get fully used to this setup, but now I'm zippin and zoomin, rarely ever taking my hands off the keyboard, and generally feeling like a cool guy from Hackers.

Thanks for reading this deeply indulgent post! Do you have a Moonlander? What kind of setup do you use? Let me know, here or on cohost!