Stack OverflowIs it practical to program with your feet?
[+24] [9] bmm
[2009-04-17 20:16:55]
[ keyboard-shortcuts ergonomics health rsi ]

Has anyone tried using foot pedals in addition to the traditional keyboard and mouse combo to improve your effectiveness in the editor? Any actual experiences out there? Does it work, or is it just for carpal tunnel relief?

I found one blog entry from a programmer who actually tried it [1]:

So now I can type using my feet for most of the modifier keys. I am using the pedals as I type this. I am still getting used to them, but the burning in my left wrist has definitely reduced. I think I can also type a little faster, but I am too lazy to do the speed tests with and without the pedals to verify this. On the negative side:

  • Working out where to put your feet when you aren’t typing can be a little awkward.
  • The pedals tend to move around the carpet, despite being metal and quite heavy. Some small spikes might have helped.
  • Although the travel on the pedals is small, they are surprisingly stiff.

Another programmer's experience [2]:

Anybody with hand pain must get foot pedals, since they can remove a tremendous load from your hands. I have two foot pedals, and use one for the SHIFT key, and the other for the CONTROL key. (I still type META by hand.) I have found that in the process of using the Emacs [3] text editor to compose computer programs, I tend to use the SHIFT, CONTROL and META keys constantly, and it is easy to remove most of this load from one's hands.

Some foot switch products:

Savant Elite Triple Foot Switch [4]

FragPedal [5]

Bilbo Step On It! [6]

[+8] [2009-04-20 11:35:53] vartec

If you're programming one of functional languages, the answer is pretty obvious:

  • left pedal — «(»
  • right pedal — «)»


Actually, that would also be pretty handy for a C-like language. { and } are two of the slowest keys to type for me. - Michael Myers
(2) For python, tab - Stefano Borini
[+5] [2009-08-05 15:52:14] Kelly French

This is definitely a programming related questions. My wife worked with a programmer that was a paraplegic; hooks for both hands. He moused with his foot. He produced lots of code and could program pretty complex stuff but was more limited by his tools than by his disability. He would have jumped at these foot pedals.

(8) "Jumped"? Ah, the treacherous linguistic waters we tread... - Carl Manaster
(2) +1 for "jumped" - JoshJordan
[+5] [2010-04-07 17:09:26] jsight

Also, there's a Toe Mouse [1]. alt text


[+2] [2009-08-05 15:28:57] Lars Haugseth

I'm considering getting a food pedal myself, but haven't decided which yet.

Here's another product I found that hasn't been mentioned:

X-keys Foot Pedal [1]

X-keys Foot Pedal

This one looks like it can work well as a foot rest as well.


(1) Does this mean the guy that, on a good day, smells like limburger cheese now has to remove his shoes, too? Sounds like a lovely experience for the cubicle pod. - DenaliHardtail
In my experience those guys already have their shoes off anyway (or are wearing open toed sandals) - therefromhere
@Scott: Yeah, and he should remove his socks as well, so he can use a pair of these: - Lars Haugseth
[+1] [2011-05-23 17:32:32] Locutus

I recommend the FragPedal system that the OP linked to. Their new model, the FragPedal Quad, is a big improvement over the original. Each pedal (there are two) looks like this: [1]The FragPedal Quad The FragPedal is driver-less and any key can emulate any standard HID input (keyboard, mouse, special keys, etc), so there's little compatibility issues. It supports toggle switches and timed-release functions, so that the same key can execute one function on a short press and another on a longer hold. This has been handy for me to fit a bunch of different text strings on each pedal, so that 4 buttons can serve you 8 text strings rather easily.

Definitely recommend it if you are looking for something to help w/ programming.


[+1] [2009-05-29 17:43:50] Matthew Whited

Maybe it is the fact I never paid attention in my touch typing classes and don't keep my fingers on the home row. But I don't seems to have these problems. I just use which ever finger hits the button I need. Also years of tech support and over the phone coding have taught me how to use the enire keyboard while typing with one hand. So maybe this is a user problem and not the point of intergration.

Amazing what will happen when you use your index and thumb for "{" and "}" instead of pinky and ring fingers. (Also being that I an a huge nerd that can't spell for crap I have a bigger problem of knowing which letter to hit more than the location of that letter on the keyboard)

Cool... I love when people disagree but are too scared or shy to say why. - Matthew Whited
+1 for not 'touch typing' correctly, but still knowing where you put your fingers to 'touch type' incorrectly (that is, without looking at the keys). - Blair McMillan
[0] [2010-03-26 00:51:04] Stephen Kellett

Andy Brice [1] has somethings to say on the topic of programming with your feet.


[0] [2010-04-07 17:15:26] Martin Beckett

In the unlikely event that anybody is looking at this seriously - because they have disabled - there is a very clever interface for people with limited mobility called DASHER [1] which is worth checking out.

And a google talk [2] on it if you can't be bothered reading.


[0] [2010-06-06 17:01:17] Peter S Magnusson

carpal tunnel is just one aspect of RSI. i started suffering RSI in 1995 and the solution i settled on was kinesis with three foot pedals. plus a number of other things of course, but i'll focus on that since it's the question.

so, i have 15 years of experience with that setup, though i have not been programming as much since 1995 as i did before. and the short answer is: yes, it works, and i recommend it heartily to any serious programmer BEFORE they get RSI.

i also plan to try datahand, we'll see how that goes.

What do you have the pedals bound to? - Blair McMillan