A tip about tips – literally!

To clarify the heading, the ‘tips’ in question are my fingertips, and the ‘tip’ is something that might save you money.

To show you my tips, here I am, holding a tiny Julius Caesar – I have the complete works of Shakespeare in miniature, each one being the unabridged play. I thought a reference to Shakespeare most suitable for the weekend upon which we mark the 400th anniversary of his death.


You’ll note that my nails are a deep plum shellac. Since I have them done once a month only, you’ll appreciate that they get long, although not talon-long, and that being shellac, they’re hard. The result all too soon, alas, of something as hard as (my) nails hitting the keys with force as I type my novels is a bald computer keyboard, which has to be replaced.

About a month ago, while working on the third – yes, the third – keyboard I’d had since January, I noticed that the letter E had almost vanished, and the O was looking iffy. The erosion had begun again, I realised. It always started with the E, since E is the vowel that appears most frequently in the English language, and O swiftly followed suit. After the E and the O, I’d say goodbye to the T, to the R, to the S, and so on.


I sighed deeply. I’d soon have to buy my fourth keyboard of the year. My frustration was great – there wouldn’t be a thing wrong with the keyboard I’d have to throw out, apart from the lack of the letters I use most frequently. But as I can’t touch type, that ‘apart from’ couldn’t be ignored.


I was sitting back in my chair, staring miserably at my keyboard, when my eyes landed on a bottle of clear nail varnish that was on my desk next to the computer. I’d fixed a nail a few days earlier and hadn’t returned the varnish to its home (A not unusual situation, I’m afraid – it accounts for the mess of things that builds up on my desk).

I sat upright. I wonder, I thought, and I leaned forward, picked up the varnish and painted every key on the keyboard with it. Then, about ten minutes after that, I gave each key another coat of clear nail varnish for luck!

It was an inspired thought, though I say it myself! It’s now a month later, and the remains of the E and O are exactly as they were four weeks ago, and not one of the other letters has started to disappear.

It wasn’t the cost of each keyboard, which is relatively inexpensive, that hurt. It was having to throw away a keyboard that was perfectly good, apart from one thing. It always felt such a waste. But happily, that’s a feeling I won’t have again for a very long time now.

So my tip to you is CLEAR-VARNISH YOUR KEYS!

Spring seems to have arrived at last. Enjoy!


  • Sheila Riley:

    Good tip, Liz, I’ll try that one. In the past I have used inexpensive letters, bought for pence from Amazon, which are peeled off and stuck over the faded letters, just to save chucking a perfect working keyboard.

    • Liz:

      I’ve used those letters, too, Sheila, but I’ve never found they lasted long. I’ve also tried a permanent white marker pen, but the white ink blobbed on most of the keys so I couldn’t make out the different letters, and the ink on the letters I could read flaked off under the relentless pressure of my nails. Thank you for mentioning possible alternatives.

    • Liz:

      No, I hadn’t, Jill. I’ve just had a look at the link, and it seems an excellent idea, and very reasonably priced. It’s certainly worth a try, and I shall get one and see how I do with it. Many thanks for passing that on. 🙂

  • Fantastic tip, thank you. I shall have a manicure tomorrow afternoon after my hair is cut and coloured, and also buy a bottle of clear nail varnish.

    • Liz:

      Good luck, Rosemary! I hope it works as well for you. PS Further tip – make sure it’s clear nail varnish, not deep plum! 🙂

  • I use a mechanical keyboard, which is too expensive to replace regularly. However, you can buy whole sets of “keycaps” to replace your existing keys. Many mechanical keyboards come with keys that have the letter “baked in,” like a stick of seaside rock, so however you wear a key down, the letter is still there. When you buy a mechanical keyboard, you get a thingie that pulls your keycaps off, so you can clean the board better, and the new keycap just clicks on. My current board is this one: http://amzn.to/1YOMhZw

    • Liz:

      How interesting, Lynne. I shall check that out. In the meantime, I’ve just bought the transparent cover which Jill linked to her comment. I’m curious to see how that works. I certainly like the sound of the facility with which you can clean your keyboard, though – mine is done by the time-honoured system of turning it upside down and shaking it! Yours is a much better way. Many thanks for drawing my attention to the mechanical keyboard.

      • Once you’ve used one for a week, you’ll never go back to the squidgy membrane keyboards! The ones with “blue” coded keys are best for typists, but I like the “brown” ones as well. There’s a guide to mechanical keyboards here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M45wB5g3t9Q&spfreload=10 – all I can say is that the mechanical keyboard saved me from a carpal tunnel operation.

        • Liz:

          Your knowledge of keyboards is awe-inspiring, Lynne, as is your knowledge of computers and technology generally. I shall certainly take note of your advice and have a look at them. Many thanks for your help.

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