The 10 Best Keyboard Trays
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in August of 2015. Along with giving you additional space and keeping your desk uncluttered, a well-designed keyboard tray or drawer can promote an ergonomic posture, which, in turn, may alleviate certain forms of wrist, back, and arm pain. The models that we have selected are capable of attaching to a broad range of desks, will accommodate a wide variety of needs, and are available to suit most budgets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 18, 2020:
Because we know that keyboard trays are not one-size-fits-all, we've looked for a wide range of options that will pair with different desks and suit various needs. The Stand Up Desk Store Retractable was added thanks to its clamp-on construction, but this feature means that it doesn't feel quite as sturdy as those that mount permanently. For this reason, it can wobble some, especially when used by those who pound the keys. But for those with a relatively light touch, or someone who simply cannot screw a tray into his or her desk, it is one to consider.
But when it comes to options that install permanently, the 3M Knob-Adjust 80LE is still a popular favorite. It's similar to the 3M Knob-Adjust 60LE, but the 80LE has an independently-adjustable mouse platform, whereas the 60LE does not, which helps to account for the discrepancy in price. Two models from Fellowes were included, as well: the Fellowes Professional Series Compact and the Fellowes Office Suites Drawer. Of the two, the former is more feature-heavy, with memory foam supports and the ability to tilt, options the latter does not have.
Finally, we kept the Mount-It! MI-7139 as a good option for those who may not be able to change to a standing desk, but who want the ability to stand up and work from time to time. Its track is on the large side, but it provides plenty of adjustability as well as plenty of room for many types of ergonomic mouse. It pairs well with some standing desk converters, for an instant upgrade to your WFH space.
June 15, 2019:
There is no doubt that sitting and working on a computer all day is not good for our health. While it is important to get up and move periodically throughout the day, it is just as important to set yourself up in an ergonomic working position that can help minimize the chances of experiencing a repetitive strain injury. The majority of the models on our list help with that in one way or another. For example, the 3M AKT80LE, Vivo Mount-KB01, Cartmay Under Desk Platform, and Eureka ERK-AKB-02, along with many others on our list, are both tilt and height adjustable. They also swivel left and right.
The Fellowes Professional 8018001 and Cartmay Under Desk Platform have some of the plushest wrist rests, while the Mount-It! MI-7139 can be raised a few inches above your desk to allow for sitting or standing work. Despite the benefit of tilt adjustments, some people may not want to deal with the hassle of drilling into their desk. For those people we have included the Jungle Stix Clamp-On 1003, which doesn't require any tools for installation, is crafted from beautiful bamboo, and has a full-length wrist rest. Of all the options on our list, the Mount-It! MI-7136 and Jungle Stix Clamp-On 1003 are the least ergonomically friendly, but they are still better than trying to use your keyboard on top of your desk all day. Plus, the Mount-It! MI-7136 is the most affordable and most compact, so those with small desks will still be able to install it.
Ergotron LX Wall Mount System If it's not just a keyboard you need to support, but a whole computer, the Ergotron LX Wall Mount System is just the tool to get the job done. Its secure wall track holds a CPU, monitor, and keyboard, with the latter two on independent arms that can be folded close to the wall when they aren't needed. ergotron.com
AFC Industries Keyboard Shelf The AFC Industries Keyboard Shelf offers a locking lever, so you can adjust the height as needed. It's conveniently available in your choice of three finishes, black, white, or gray, and stores neatly against the wall when not in use. afcindustries.com
Elevon Super-Ergonomic Desk Extension The Elevon Super-Ergonomic Desk Extension isn't for everyone, not only because it's expensive, but also because it was specifically designed for sit-stand or treadmill desks; plus, it's on the large side. On the other hand, it can be installed in a mere 30 seconds and tilts up to 85 degrees, so it's perfect for those who need versatility without a lot of hassles. imovr.com
Choosing The Best Keyboard Tray
A standard tray is convenient enough as it is, but the added features will usually mean the difference between a satisfied purchase and a return.
Buying a keyboard tray seems like an upfront choice, but there are a few things to consider to be sure the tray is a sound investment.
The first thing to consider is how the tray will be affixed to the desk. They are attached in many different ways, often using permanent options like screws or semi-permanent methods like clamps. In a desk that belongs to the office rather than the individual, screws may not be permitted. For more permanent desks like those found in a home office, screws can be more desirable. Once the tray is set in place, it can be seen as a permanent addition to the desk.
Of course the tray should be big enough to fit the keyboard it will support, but another thing to consider is its size when compared to the desk. Some desks do not provide much in the way of leg clearance, and adding a keyboard tray to the mix is only going to make the problem worse. Luckily there are many models that bring the tray even with the desk itself, and even those that allow the user to extend them above the desk for workers looking to reduce their sitting time throughout the day. For trays that store under the desk and slide out, it will also be important that the desk is both deep enough and wide enough to comfortably fit the tray when it is not in use.
Having the ability to adjust the height and angle of the keyboard tray is also an important factor for many people. As the average worker's seated position can change throughout the day, the ideal height of the keyboard and mouse shift along with them.
The deciding factor for many people are the features their tray has. A standard tray is convenient enough as it is, but the added features will usually mean the difference between a satisfied purchase and a return. For instance, trays which offer integrated mouse support pads are better for the wrists, especially for people using an ergonomic mouse to keep the wrists healthy and relaxed. Certain units also offer resting pads for the wrists and separate trays for both the keyboard and mouse to reach the user's desired heights.
Health Benefits Of Keyboard Trays
Keyboard trays actually provide many health benefits to the body when in use. For many workers, this revolves around the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Carpal tunnel syndrome is also known as a repetitive stress injury. It is a fault in the transmission of the nerve signal of the wrist to the brain, which is caused by a repetitive action done in an ergonomically incorrect way, such as typing or using a mouse for hours a day. This causes the tissues around the median nerve in the hand to swell and press down on it.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually progress over time, becoming worse as months or years of the same motion go on.
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome usually progress over time, becoming worse as months or years of the same motion go on. Luckily, in the early stages, the process is reversible by changing the way the habit is carried out. For office workers, this usually means switching to an ergonomic mouse and keyboard, and placing them in a better position using a keyboard tray.
The same applies for cubital tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is well known, but cubital tunnel syndrome affects many of the same workers without their awareness. The cubital tunnel is the tube containing the ulnar nerve, which runs from the shoulder to the wrist but is most delicate near the elbow. Cubital tunnel is often caused by leaning on the elbows for long periods of time, or bending the elbow back and forth repeatedly. These are both movements done often while sitting at the computer. Reaching for the mouse or keyboard repeatedly can influence cubital tunnel syndrome. The symptoms can often be eased and the damage reversed by switching to a keyboard tray to keep the elbows and shoulders in a neutral position while typing.
A properly placed keyboard tray can also help the user correct their posture. Constantly leaning forward or reaching for regularly used items on the desk can promote a hunched back. This forward slump begins in high school students, and if left uncorrected causes back pain and sometimes even nerve damage. Over time this position promotes lazy back muscles, meaning it is difficult and even painful for the body to sit correctly. Using a keyboard tray can be seen as a small step towards correct seated posture and spinal health.
Who Are Keyboard Trays Designed For?
The use of trays for keyboards is most obviously geared towards office workers and computer typists. These are people who use keyboards so often, studies have been designed to accurately determine aspects of their personalities based on their keyboard and mouse use. It is obvious that they would be the primary targets of keyboard trays. The trays keep a typist's elbows from stretching unnecessarily throughout a full day of typing reports. They also support an upright, relaxed posture that is necessary to keep the workplace stress of an office job from becoming too much on the body.
Trays designed for keyboards create a small, clutter-free work space that is perfect for all types of users. For people who prefer to write with a pen and paper, this provides a great platform to do so that can help prevent hunching over the desk. This is great for writing memos, adding notes to the calendar, or even supporting a book to read during free time. This is also a great space for artists who feel inspired to doodle at their desk to make use of while also supporting a healthy posture.
The extra surface area of a keyboard tray is also perfect for anyone with a small desk space who needs to clear their area in order to work properly. Moving the keyboard and mouse to a tray frees up a lot of otherwise unused space.