Use the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) to type

There are several different kinds of keyboards for PCs. The most common type is a physical, external keyboard that plugs into your PC. But Windows has a built-in Ease of Access tool called the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) that can be used instead of a physical keyboard.

You don’t need a touchscreen to use the OSK. It displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys, so you can use your mouse or another pointing device to select keys, or use a physical single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

Note: A PC with a touchscreen also has a touch keyboard. The touch keyboard will appear when you tap inside a text box when your PC is in tablet mode.

To open the On-Screen Keyboard

Go to Start , then select Settings  > Ease of Access  > Keyboard, and turn on the toggle under Use the On-Screen Keyboard. A keyboard that can be used to move around the screen and enter text will appear on the screen. The keyboard will remain on the screen until you close it.

Note: To open the OSK from the sign-in screen, select the Ease of Access  button in the lower-right corner of the sign-in screen, and then select On-Screen Keyboard.

To change how info is entered into the On-Screen Keyboard

With the OSK open, select the Options key, and choose the options you want:

  • Use click sound. Use this option if you want to hear a sound when you press a key.

  • Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen. Use this option if you want the keys to light up as you type.

  • Turn on numeric keypad. Use this option to expand the OSK to show a numeric keypad.

  • Click on keys. Use this mode if you prefer to click or tap the on-screen keys to enter text.

  • Hover over keys. Use this mode if you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key. The characters you point to are entered automatically when you point to them for a specified time.

  • Scan through keys. Use this mode if you want the OSK to continually scan the keyboard. Scan mode highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.

  • Use Text Prediction. Use this option if you want the OSK to suggest words for you as you type so you don't need to type each complete word.

Notes: 

  • Text Prediction is available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. If you want to use one of these languages and it isn't installed, install the language files for that language.

  • If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidently minimize the OSK, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).

  • If you minimize the OSK and switch to tablet mode, use the Task view button to get back to the OSK.

There are a few different kinds of keyboards. The most common is a physical, external keyboard that you plug into your PC.

Windows also has the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK), an Ease of Access tool. Use the OSK instead of a physical keyboard to move around your PC and enter text. You don’t need a touchscreen to use the OSK. The OSK displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. Select keys using the mouse or another pointing device, or use a physical single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

Note

A PC with a touchscreen also has a touch keyboard. When you’re using a Windows PC with a touchscreen, tap in a text field or other area where you can type and the touch keyboard appears. For more info about the touch keyboard, see How to use the touch keyboard.

To open the On-Screen Keyboard

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter On-Screen Keyboard in the search box, and then tap or click On-Screen Keyboard.

    A keyboard appears on the screen that can be used to move around your PC and enter text. The keyboard will remain on the screen until you close it.

Note

To open the OSK from the sign-in screen, tap or click the Ease of Access  Ease of Access button  button  in the lower-left corner of the sign-in screen, and then tap or click On-Screen Keyboard.

To change how info is entered into the On-Screen Keyboard

With the OSK open, tap or click the OSK Options key, and then select the options you want:

  • Use click sound. Use this option if you want to hear a sound when you press a key.

  • Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen. Use this option if you want the keys to light up as you type.

  • Turn on numeric keypad. Use this option to expand the OSK to show a numeric keypad.

  • Click on keys. Use this mode if you prefer to click or tap the on-screen keys to enter text.

  • Hover over keys. Use this mode if you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key. The characters you point to are entered automatically when you point to them for a specified time.

  • Scan through keys. Use this mode if you want the OSK to continually scan the keyboard. Scan mode highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.

  • Use Text Prediction. Use this option if you want the OSK to suggest words for you as you type so you don't need to type each complete word.

Notes

Text Prediction is available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. If you want to use one of these languages and it isn't installed, install the language files for that language.

If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidently minimize the OSK, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).

If you minimize the OSK and switch to the Start screen or a full-screen app, you won't be able to get to the OSK. Open the OSK first, and then go to the Start screen or app.

Instead of relying on the physical keyboard to type and enter data, you can use On-Screen Keyboard. On-Screen Keyboard displays a visual keyboard with all the standard keys. You can select keys using the mouse or another pointing device, or you can use a single key or group of keys to cycle through the keys on the screen.

Watch this video to learn how to type without using the keyboard (1:21)

 

To type without using the keyboard

Open On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking On-Screen Keyboard.

  1. Open On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking On-Screen Keyboard.

  2. Click Options, and then, under To use the On-Screen Keyboard, select the mode you want:

Typing mode

Description

Click on keys

In clicking mode, you click the on-screen keys to type text.

Hover over keys

In hovering mode, you use a mouse or joystick to point to a key for a predefined period of time, and the selected character is typed automatically.

Scan through keys

In scanning mode, On-Screen Keyboard continually scans the keyboard and highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut, using a switch input device, or using a device that simulates a mouse click.

Notes: 

  • If you're using either hovering mode or scanning mode and accidently minimize On-Screen Keyboard, you can restore it by pointing to it in the taskbar (for hovering mode) or by pressing the scan key (for scanning mode).

  • If you're using a mouse click to select a key in the Scan through keys mode, the mouse pointer must be located over On-Screen Keyboard.

  • The keyboard layout changes in On-Screen Keyboard depending on the language displayed in the active program.

You can have On-Screen Keyboard make an audible click when a key is pressed.

  1. Open On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking On-Screen Keyboard.

  2. Click Options, select the Use click sound check box, and then click OK.

You can use a numeric key pad to enter numbers with On-Screen Keyboard.

  1. Open On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking On-Screen Keyboard.

  2. Click Options, select the Turn on numeric key pad check box, and then click OK.

When text prediction is enabled, as you type, On-Screen Keyboard displays a list of words that you might be typing.

  1. Open On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking On-Screen Keyboard.

  2. Click Options, select the Use Text Prediction check box, and then click OK.

    If you don't want to automatically add a space after you insert a word using text prediction, clear the Insert space after predicted words check box, and then click OK.

Notes: 

  • Text prediction is only available in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. To enable text prediction in a specific language, you must first install additional language files for that language. 
     

  • Text prediction isn't included in Windows 7 Home Basic.


 

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