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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 Accessibility 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  > Accessibility > Keyboard, and turn on the On-Screen Keyboard toggle. 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 Accessibility 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 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.

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