Using an On-Screen Keyboard

by Barry Dysert
(last updated March 2, 2020)

The on-screen keyboard helps those who are somehow challenged when using a traditional mechanical keyboard. The on-screen keyboard lets you use the mouse or some other pointing device to do your typing.

The on-screen keyboard isn't just for those who have problems with traditional keyboards, though. It can also be used to enhance security, for the over-cautious crowd. (If you use a public computer, it may have a keystroke logging program installed on it to record all the keystrokes on the computer. "Keystrokes" on an on-screen keyboard cannot be logged, thereby keeping sensitive information safer.)

To enable the on-screen keyboard, just use Windows' searching capabilities to search for "On-Screen Keyboard." Before you even type the word "Keyboard," you should see a search result for "On-Screen Keyboard," which you should select. This causes a keyboard to be displayed on the screen. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The on-screen keyboard.

The on-screen keyboard looks a bit different from one version of Windows to another. It can be resized by clicking and dragging its edges or corners. You use the keyboard almost like a mechanical keyboard, but you type characters by clicking them. If you need to enter a multi-key sequence (e.g., Ctrl + C to copy selected text to the clipboard), click the modifier key first (i.e., Ctrl) and then click the second one (i.e., C).

The on-screen keyboard has some options that you may find useful, too. Click the "Options" key in the lower right corner of the keyboard. Windows then displays the Options dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The on-screen keyboard's Options dialog box.

The first checkbox allows you to manage the click sound for whenever you click a key. The third checkbox controls whether the keyboard includes a numeric keypad or not. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The on-screen keyboard with the numeric keypad.

Going back to the Options dialog box, you can determine how a "keystroke" is executed, i.e., by clicking the key or by simply hovering over the key. The "Scan Through Keys" option takes a bit of getting used to. By enabling it, when you click the Space Bar, each row of keys is temporarily highlighted; click the Space Bar while a row is highlighted, and it highlights the first few letters of that row; click the Space Bar again, and it selects a key from what's highlighted. (Use of the Space Bar is, of course, configurable.)

Finally, the "Text Prediction" option works like it does when texting on a cell phone. When you start selecting keys, the top of the keyboard starts showing word predictions. You can then select a predicted word instead of finishing typing your word a character at a time.

You exit the on-screen keyboard by clicking the "X" (close) button in the upper-right corner of the keyboard.

 This tip (11563) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Understanding Windows Firewall

There are a lot of malicious users on the Internet who are trying to break into other people's systems. One way to ...

Discover More

Making the Mouse Pointer More Visible

Windows has a lot of features designed to make your computing experience easy on the eyes. Some of these features have to ...

Discover More

Removing Spyware with Windows Defender

Despite your best efforts, it's possible that your system might still get afflicted with spyware. If that happens, you ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Applying Color Filters

Windows 10 Ease of Access settings offer a wide range of settings that are aimed at helping users of all types use their ...

Discover More

Using Toggle Keys

Toggle Keys is an accessibility feature that can help you realize when you've pressed one of the "lock" keys on your ...

Discover More

Using the Narrator

The Narrator is an accessibility feature designed for people who have trouble reading text that's on the screen. Turning ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.