Recently I wrote a review of a typing trainer for Linux called Klavaro. Klavaro is an excellent program, available for both Linux and Windows, but not for Mac. Because of this I decided to see what options are available for OS X users. But then I forgot all about doing that. However, today as I was browsing software listings, I saw a listing for aTypeTrainer4Mac, a free typing tutor, and decided to take it for a spin.
Using aTypeTrainer4Mac isn’t difficult at all. Simply start it up and it’s ready to go. Just start typing what you see in front of you. As you type you’ll see the keys you hit highlighted on the small virtual keyboard. At the same time, you’ll hear the sound of a metronome (set by default to beat 60 times per minute, or once per second). When you get to the end of each line you’ll be shown your stats – how many characters and how many words you would type per minute, based on the one-line sample. To continue, hit the space bar. A new line of text will pop up and you simply start typing again. As you progress, the key combinations get more and more difficult.
One thing I immediately noticed about aTypeTrainer4Mac (in addition to the really bright window color!) was that it only shows randomly generated text. Unlike Klavaro, sad to say, which in addition to providing common finger grouping practice, also includes text made up of real words and sentences. In my mind, the way Klavaro has gone is much better. There aren’t too many times when I’m forced to type the following “sentence”:
;dka;d; la jaja;f alajd;a alsl
However, that was one of the “sentences” provided for me to type with aTypeTrainer4Mac.
On the plus side, aTypeTrainer4Mac does have one big advantage over Klavaro, and that is its ability to not only import text from a Rich Text File (.rtf), but to import text from a website as well. Safari, Firefox, SeaMonkey, Opera, Netscape, Flock and Camino are all supported, so unless you’re one of the few Mac users running iCab as your web browser, you should be well supported there.
Another nice feature offered by aTypeTrainer4Mac is its output logs. Each time aTypeTrainer4Mac is run, it produced two output logs, one in RTFD and one in HTML. This allows you or a teacher to follow along with the actual progress being made
Finally, if you aren’t an English speaker, have no worries. In addition to supporting many non-system keyboard layouts, such as Dvorak, Colemak or layouts being built by Ukelele, all system keyboard layouts are supported. So no matter where you live, aTypeTrainer4Mac can work for you.
As mentioned at the start of this article, I’d kind of forgotten I was going to search for a good typing instruction program for Mac and sort of stumbled on aTypeTrainer4Mac by accident. Still, it would be an effective program for beginners. Whether there are better, free, programs out there I couldn’t say. But if you’re looking for something to help you type faster and with more accuracy, aTypeTrainer4Mac isn’t a bad place to start your search.