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Practice your typing skills with this free typing tutor.

Practice isn't just the way to get to Carnegie Hall; it's also the way to become a good typist. KeyBlaze Free Typing Tutor from NCH Software can help you learn touch-typing or practice your skills. It offers basic lessons, drills, and speed tests suitable for typists ranging from absolute beginners to keyboard jockeys. It's easy to use and effective, too.

The KeyBlaze installation wizard offers three optional downloads, which we didn't try but thought sounded useful: FastFox, a typing expander that can create and store keyboard shortcuts; TextTally, a word counter; and Express Scribe, which assists voice transcription. We entered a User Name and a words-per-minute target and selected the optional initial skill test in the setup. The main view resembles a typewriter, with a standard keyboard image below a blank entry field. We had selected the initial test, which involved typing in a series of tongue-twisters at normal typing speed. KeyBlaze sounded an alarm whenever we hit the wrong key, and it illuminated our mistakes in red. Clicking the Exercises tab called up the main categories: Basics, Keyboard, Keypad, Practice, and Speed Tests. A prominent Stop button on the toolbar let us stop a test quickly at any stage. Clicking the Results tab displayed our User name and WMP and let us view and manage our Goal WPM, High Score, and Test Results as well as choose the next exercise. The Tools tab let us import exercises, create Reports, and configure Options, the latter selection offering General, Sounds, and Reports tabs. Clicking Basics opened an HTML-based instructional explaining the basic principles of touch-typing.

KeyBlaze is great for beginners, but it has more to offer to those who already know how to type. The lessons are easy to understand, getting progressively more difficult to master, and effective, with immediate feedback that helps users quickly overcome bad habits. Practice makes perfect, or at least an improvement; KeyBlaze is a great place to start.

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