If you were to look at your keyboard and told to point out the most pointless and redundant section of it, you would most likely point to the Numpad. Hardly anyone uses it.
Nowadays, we have calculators on hand every moment of our lives. Doubly so when we are at our computer. So, why does it still exist and why is the Numpad on the right side of the keyboard every time?
This article answers all of that and more.
Why is the Numpad on the right?
The Numpad is always found on the right-hand side of the keyboard because most people are right-handed. The Numpad is regularly used independently from the regular keyboard.
If you are doing calculations on excel or a digital calculator, you are probably using the one hand. If you are in the majority of the population who is right-handed, you will use your right hand.
By positioning it comfortably near to where your right-hand wrests, normally it is easy and convenient to use. If it were on the left-hand side, it would be inconvenient for the majority.
You would still likely want to use it with your right hand forcing you to type with your hands crossed. Which, you don’t need to try to realize it isn’t easy.
Note: some argue that it’s more efficient to have the Numpad on the left. I will leave that one up for you to decide.
What do left-handed people do?
Unfortunately, for left-handed people, you are left with essentially just two options. One, learn to use your right hand for this function. It will be tricky at first, but over time will become easier and easier. Or, you could shell out for a lefthanded keyboard.
You can find some that are repositioned to make it easier for those who favor their left. But that doesn’t help you all that much when it comes to laptops. Unless you plan on buying a custom laptop, you are pretty much stuck with the standard keyboard. Unless you buy a separate USB Numpad that can be positioned wherever you like.
This is interestingly recommended for people who suffer from carpal tunnel, as allowing yourself some freedom with positioning can relieve stress and tension in the hands/wrists. You could simply use the numbers along the top, as you would when you are regularly typing.
Originally, the Numpad was designed to mirror that of a calculator to make typing quickly easier. Since we are all pretty good typers anyway, at least compared to when keyboards were first designed, the drop off won’t be too steep. Whether you are left-handed or right-handed.
Why are there also numbers along the top?
The numbers along the top of your keyboard are your primary keys for typing numerics. If you are typing a word document, and you need to include a number such as, “27,312 cows”, it is faster to simply type those numbers as you would normally.
It is only when doing lots of numeric equations that you might want to use the Numpad. Additionally, by having number keys along the top you can double up on functions. More keys are always better, all secondary keys (non-letters) should have double purposes for efficiency.
Touch typing is the act of typing without looking at what you are doing, at least, doing it less so. Having the numbers positioned in the same segment as the letters greatly increase the speed with which you can get work done. Plus, it’s helpful for games. If you play something like WOW, CSGO or League of legends, you very likely have those keys bound to some kind of ability/command. They serve a lot of functions in all sorts of tasks.
Do people even use Numpad regularly?
Most people don’t get much use out of the Numpad at all. Most of us aren’t accountants, running lots of functions in excel and doing huge calculations. For many of us, the Numpad is more of an inconvenience than anything else.
Wouldnt you much rather have hand wrest along the side of the keyboard for taking small breaks when typing? Especially on a laptop where extra space is invaluable? Perhaps. The Numpad can be incredibly useful if you learn to use it properly. We have a quarter of our keyboard that just never sees much use.
By including it into our regular work life, you could argue that we increase our productivity and functionality. You could also argue that we have phones so let’s just use those instead.
What is NumLock and how can it be used?
NumLock is almost as useless as Numpad, for most people. But it shouldn’t be. NumLock transforms those pesky number keys into a programmable set of functions. We can have them bound to various macros to make our lives that much easier. These functions could be to help us automate our workday, or give us an edge in online games.
Macros can be used to make your computer work for you, with very little input from you after the initial setup period. By toggling NumLock on and off you can rotate between having a workable number pad and your little array of brand new buttons. The simplest and easiest macros are often the best.
Here is an example for you. You work from home, but, your company monitors mouse movement to ensure you are still working. If the mouse stops moving for 5-10 minutes, your employer is notified and will likely email you to see why you aren’t working.
Now, what if you bound one of your new keys to artificially move your mouse from side to side every few seconds to emulate you being at your computer. When you are at your PC, turn it off, when you get up to go do something simply turn it back on again. This is just a simple suggestion, the possibilities are endless.
Note: I don’t recommend doing this unless you are just going away for a quick break. If you are gone for more than 10 minutes you should be honest and not try to pretend to be working when you aren’t!
Hopefully, you now know everything you need to know about the Numpad. Why you may or may not care for having one and also why is the Numpad on the right.
You can get a lot of functionality out of using your Numpad combined with Numlock. Or, you could ignore it altogether.
If you do feel like you would get a lot of use out of it, but you are left-handed, buying a separate USB Numpad is a great idea. They only cost about $25-$50 so its affordable for just about everyone.