Did you know that blank keycaps exist for mechanical keyboards? They’re keycaps with no lettering on them whatsoever. They come in all kinds of colors to fit your personal tastes, too. (The pastel color options actually remind me of the marshmallows in a kid’s cereal.) While it looks cool on a purely aesthetic level, personally, blank keycaps would make me want to scream.
An opinion piece about unlabeled keycaps over at PC Gamer reignited my feelings on the matter and inspired me to write this article. Yes, there are some valid reasons you might be interested in using them, but sorry, Internet: Blank keycaps are pretty silly.
Why I’m salty
Okay, fine, blank keycaps might a good option if you’re looking to become a better touch typist. That’s the practice of using the keys without looking at them. There’s no point in looking down at a keyboard if there are no printed labels, right? It’s kind of like typing on hard mode.
But why put yourself through that hassle? If you’re a beginner typist, going from a regular keyboard with printed labels to blank keycaps would be both disorienting and frustrating. Personally, I’ve been typing on a keyboard for so long that it’s like second nature to me. Role-playing in AIM chatrooms as a kid taught me to be quick and accurate with my typing. When it comes to the letter keys, I don’t really need printed labels per se. It’s all muscle memory at this point. I prefer them because I don’t know where the heck the special keys are without them, however.
Ampersand? Who is she? More importantly, where is she? If I’m typing on a keyboard with blank keycaps, I don’t want to deal with the unnecessary guesswork or trial-and-error. It’s just going to put me in a sour mood, especially where I spend my days writing and editing and communicating with coworkers over text. I’m not looking to invest in anything that complicates that. It’d just take unnecessary time out of my day. I don’t want to spend the additional time trying to figure out where obscure keys like the pound sign (aka the hashtag for you younger folks) are, and it’d be even more disorienting for people who aren’t veteran touch typists. With printed keys, I can see exactly where I need to press.
The only thing I can sort of understand about blank keycaps is the visual aspect. From custom clay shapes to pastel pinks and blues, there are some really awesome designs out there. If you check out the Twitter thread below, you’ll see some truly beautiful keyboard setups with blank caps. Currently, I use a mechanical keyboard with RGB lighting. It’s not as pretty as those custom configurations, sure, but it’s functional and I like the clackety sounds it makes. While I deeply appreciate the artistry that goes into these custom designs, I strongly prefer something that looks a little boring but functions better as a keyboard.
Bottom line? I truly understand why some folks are into blank keyboards—if you’re looking for a stunning minimalist setup, they can’t be beat. Plus, the artistry that goes into clay shapes is impressive. But does that really outweigh the frustrations of deciphering a blank keyboard? Nope. Big nope. I spend all day typing and I want zero guesswork. Pressing a bunch of buttons trying to find the asterisk or carrot keys on the rare occasions I need to use them sounds like a massive pain in the neck. Sorry folks, there’s no converting me.