Purchasing a keyboard tray is a big decision. Keyboard trays can cost a fair amount of money so it is important to get the right keyboard tray the first time. The table below discusses keyboard tray adjustments and some tips for purchasing. Many trays do not have all of the adjustments listed here. It is important to review these options and plan to match the tray to the proper task. As a supplement to the information below, there is further reading available from Ergoweb.

Characteristics Adjustments Explanation
Keyboard Fit Width Keyboard fit is vital in using a keyboard tray.

  • Select a keyboard tray that fits the keyboard you plan to use.
  • Pay attention to the surface material as well. Some trays come with material that provides little or no friction between the tray and the keyboard. This is important when tilting the keyboard so that it doesn’t move or slide off.
  • Some keyboard trays have the capability to remove the wrist rest which allows for “natural keyboards” to fit. Some require tools and others simply pop out.
Depth
Wrist rests
Material
Keyboard Height Keyboard trays offer various means of adjustability. The main adjustments are height, angle, rotation and stability.

  • Several attempts at adjusting the tray may be needed to find the correct placement.
  • Adjust the height and angle (tilt) of the keyboard tray to achieve forearms and wrists parallel to the ground with the forearm and wrist aligned.
  • First start with the height of the tray and lower it to elbow height. Then try to make the keys parallel to the ground or slightly sloping back and away from you. This should allow for straight wrists when typing.
  • The rotation function may be necessary if the track has to be mounted in an awkward position, or the keyboard tray must be rotated to store.
  • Stability of the tray is important so that the keyboard and mouse feel like they are fixed and not moving around on their own. An example of poor stability would be a tray that loses its angle over time.
Angle (tilt)
Rotation
Stability
Mouse Fit Width Mouse fit is vital in using a keyboard tray. Select a keyboard tray that fits the mouse you plan to use.
Depth
Wrist rests
Material
Mouse Height Mouse platforms on keyboard trays offer various means of adjustability. The main adjustments are height, angle, rotation and stability.

  • When tilting the keyboard, will the mouse fall off the back? If so, make sure the tray has some sort of backstop or a way to make the mouse surface parallel to the ground (through independent tilt) to prevent this from happening.
  • If you would like to mouse on the left and right, make sure the product you select can do this.
  • If the number pad is not needed on your keyboard for daily activities, select a keyboard tray that has the “mouse over” feature. The platform rotates over the keyboard.
  • If you are right handed, mousing with the left hand would be beneficial in splitting your work between both hands. In some instances, it may be more efficient (i.e. spreadsheet work entering in data).
Angle (tilt)
Rotation
Stability
Accessories Wrist rests Keyboard tray accessories can make or break a keyboard tray.

  • Do the wrist rests create a sharp edge contact point and are they removable?
  • Is the tray flimsy, difficult to move, easily dirtied, and/or does it have sharp edges?
  • Rounded, padded wrist rests reduce localized pressure on the wrist and forearms as well as provide more comfort while resting.
  • Is there sufficient knee clearance or does your knee hit the mechanism underneath the keyboard platform? The better trays allow for full movement of the legs under the platform.
Material
Knee clearance
Instructions Instructions are very important for keyboard trays. Without them, the user has a hard time figuring out what all the controls do and often the tray is positioned incorrectly.
Impression Safety Safety and the opinions of others are important deciding factors as well.

  • It is also important to consider stability of the keyboard tray. Some people use the wrist rests as an assist when getting up. The rests are not meant to withstand this force but many are designed to accommodate for moderate force in this situation.
  • When considering a new keyboard tray, get opinions from others who have used or are using a certain tray. They may have some insights about the trays. Remember, however, that comfort is a personal thing so a tray that is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for another.
Opinions
Purchasing Advice Vendors listed on the evaluation pages When deciding to purchase a keyboard tray, keep the following in mind:

  • Determine how many trays are needed and decide on what vendor to use based on cost and responsiveness. The installation cost varies by vendor and some vendors have discounts on large quantities.
  • Contact your business manager for assistance with purchasing. If you find that you still have questions (whether about keyboard trays or ergonomics in general) after reading all the content on keyboard trays, contact Ian Bertmaring at 919-843-4642.
  • Have Facilities Services install your tray.