Does being Left handed make it harder to be a graphic designer?


My mum has told me this many times, so I’ve come to accept that I was a slightly strange different child. Fact.

Like the fact that I grew up on a farm means I can still recognise and name any tractor I see, but couldn’t tell if the car in front of me is a Jaguar or a Skoda!! I also have 0 interest in cars, be they fast or otherwise, which I’m told makes me very different from the average male!

I could list a thousand other things that made/still make me different from the average person but this entry is about one thing in particular…I’m a lefty.

Left Handed in the Simpsons

Yes I’m a left handed graphic designer and I would say 99.9% of my work has been done using computer programs which is all likelihood have been designed and developed by teams of mostly right-handed people, which has led me to wonder if being left handed puts me at any disadvantage.

Traditionally Left-handed people have/are many a times at a disadvantage using tools designed for the right-handed.
(I remember writing in school using a fountain pen and always smudging the ink as my left hand would rub against it as I worked across the page).Well why this was true, today, there are a whole range of tools and equipment being designed for left-handed people, such as left handed pens and scissors. However these are all traditional tools and not the ones I spend most of my days using. So I thought I’d list the things that I use on an average day in the design studio and evaluate how well they are designed for the left handed folk such as myself!

• Mac Mouse
• Mac keyboard
• Mac operating system and the programs I use most often – particularly Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver plus coding programs such as Coda and TextMate.

Apple wireless bluetooth mighty mouse

So first off – Apples wireless mighty mouse:
This mouse is no stranger to anybody, especially if they use a Mac. It’s a very simple mouse, that is identical on both the left and right sides giving it equal usability for both the left and right hands. The scroller ball in the centre is also positioned so that either the left or right hand can use it equally. What about the left and right click buttons I hear you ask? Well the beautiful thing about this mouse is that all the buttons can be customised to do what you want them to do. E.g the traditional left click action can be assigned to the right button and visa versa.
So in summery this mouse gives no advantages to either left or right handed users.

Apple keyboard

Next up is – Apple Mac Keyboard: Full sized with number on the right. Not the mini version:
This is very much a traditional keyboard. Full QWERTY layout with an additional set of numbers on the right hand side. I don’t think that the keyboard can be classed as bias to either the left or right handed as I (and I assume most people) use both hands when typing. In all honesty the numbers are the only thing I can think may be slightly favouring right handed people because while I use both hands to type I defiantly have a preferred side so having the additional set of numbers on me left would of felt more natural but overall its pretty even!

Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Ok that’s the small things out of the way. Lets move onto the bigger stuff: The Mac Operating System:
Traditionally the dock is positioned centralised at the bottom of the screen but can be changed to both the left or right sides and the programs appearing in it can be re-ordered into any configuration that you like.
When using the finder to navigate the sidebars are shown on the left side of the screen but the search bar appears on the top right. The programs menu bars start from the left side of the screen and work right. As I’ve previously mentioned, working from left to right when writing can be an issue for some left handed people but I can’t see any such problems when working on a computer as function appear on all sides of the screen.

It’s a similar story with the programs that I use as well. All of them utilise all areas and side of the screen and have no obvious favouring towards either left or right handed people. It would be interesting if I could reverse the menu items to start from the right and work left though as it would be interesting to see if that had any effects on my work productivity.

So in conclusion left handed people do not seem to be at any disadvantage when using a computer meaning I will have to put any plans of claiming some disability benefits/compensation on hold…for now at least!


Well, I doubt that MacOS with single only “Cmd+V” shortcut for Paste is more left-hander-oriented than WIndows with its additional “Shift+Ins”.

I can’t really comment as I don’t regularly use a Windows OS, which is why I focused solely on testing the MacOS. However you make a valid point although I will point out that the MacOS lets you create your own shortcuts for complete customisation:

I always thought it sucks to be a lefty for graphic design. Shortcuts for the the programs like photoshop and illustrator are all right handed. What kind of solution did you have for this problem as a fellow graphic designer?

I’ve never noticed that the shortcuts in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator are aimed at right-handed people, as if it’s keyboard shortcuts then they can be reassigned to suit individual preferences and the layout of all the panels can be re-positioned, or am I misinterpreting you?

I’m also a left handed graphic designer. I guess it never bothered me much that certain devices were primarily designed for righty’s…I just had to get use to them.

If Hendrix was able to play guitar like he did in a right handed guitar world, I suppose I can learn how to use the tools I need for design. Thanks for the article.

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