How to use the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10

If you need to type without a keyboard, the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows might be helpful. It allows you to type by using a mouse. You can even set up and use this function without having a keyboard connected to your computer, which can be useful if your keyboard is unavailable. This article explains how to access the On-Screen Keyboard, how to operate it, how to use it to log on to a password-protected user account without using a physical keyboard, and how to use several of its options, including the predictive text function.

How to open the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10

The fastest way to open the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10 is to use a physical keyboard. 🙂 Simultaneously press the Ctrl + Win + O keys, and the virtual keyboard shows up on your Windows 10 screen.

The On-Screen Keyboard from Windows 10

Alternatively, you can also use the search field on your taskbar to look for the On-Screen Keyboard.

Searching for the virtual keyboard in Windows 10

You can also access the On-Screen Keyboard from the Start Menu. Scroll until you get to the Windows Ease of Access folder and click On-Screen Keyboard.

The On-Screen Keyboard shortcut from the Start Menu

Another relatively fast way of accessing the On-Screen Keyboard from Windows 10 is to run the osk command. You can do it from the Run window (Win + R), Command Prompt, PowerShell, or even File Explorer.

Running the osk command opens On-Screen Keyboard

Finally, a slower yet reliable method to open the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10 is also made available by the Settings app. Open Settings, navigate to Ease of Access, select Keyboard on the left sidebar, and turn on the “Use the On-Screen Keyboard” switch.

Use the On-Screen Keyboard

How to open the On-Screen Keyboard from the sign-in screen of Windows 10

If you need to use the On-Screen Keyboard to log in to Windows 10, select the user you want to log in with, and then press the Ease of Access logo from the bottom-right corner of the screen. A menu is shown with several options: select On-Screen Keyboard.

Access On-Screen Keyboard on the Windows 10 sign-in screen

Then you can use the On-Screen Keyboard.

How to use the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10

The On-Screen Keyboard is used by first opening the app or window you wish to type in. For example, you might open Notepad or your web browser of choice. Then, select with the mouse where you want to type, just like you normally would if you were to use a physical keyboard. Make sure the blinking line or cursor that usually indicates where you will be typing in a given window is in place.

Selecting where to type

Then, simply maneuver the cursor over the On-Screen Keyboard’s keys and click them with the mouse. In the example below, the user would move the cursor with the mouse to click the letters on the On-Screen Keyboard, replicating the line above it.

Typing on the Windows 10 virtual keyboard

There are also options that allow you to press the keys by hovering over them with the cursor: we will discuss how to turn this on later in the tutorial. Several options can be accessed by clicking on the Options key on the virtual keyboard interface. This key is indicated in the screenshot below.

On-Screen Keyboard Options

How to configure the On-Screen Keyboard

When you click the Options key on the virtual keyboard interface, a panel pops up with several options to customize the On-Screen Keyboard for your personal use.

If you check the box for “Use click sound” at the top of the Options panel, you should hear an audible clicking noise through your speakers when you click keys on the On-Screen Keyboard.

The settings available for the Windows 10 On-Screen Keyboard

The next setting – “Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen” – shows a series of additional keys on the virtual keyboard that can be useful in certain situations. Near the two columns with special buttons like Home or PgUp, you get a third column with the following controls:

  • Nav – minimizes the keyboard and displays one row with keys used to navigate the operating system: Tab, Enter, Space, Up, Down, etc.
  • Mv Up – moves the On-Screen Keyboard to the top side of the screen.
  • Mv Dn – moves the On-Screen Keyboard to the bottom side of the screen.
  • Dock – docks the On-Screen Keyboard to the bottom side of the screen.
  • Fade – makes the On-Screen Keyboard transparent. However, it remains in the background, and you can still use it.

The “Turn on numeric key pad” box adds a data-entry style number pad to the right side of the virtual keyboard. This appears, as shown below.

Special buttons on the Windows 10 virtual keyboard

For the numeric keypad to actually display numbers, you must click the NumLock key as indicated in the example below.

Numerical keys on the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10

The default method for operating the On-Screen Keyboard is the “Click on keys” option. However, you can instead select “Hover over keys” if you’d prefer to operate the keyboard by having the cursor hover over the keys you wish to click. The “Scan through keys” option allows you to select letters by hitting a button of your choice as the computer scans through the available keys, row by row, and then key by key. Both of these alternatives have scroll-bars that allow you to customize how long you need to hover over a key or how quickly you scan through the keys.

Options for how to type using On-Screen Keyboard

If you plan to use the On-Screen Keyboard often, you can set your computer to start-up with the On-Screen Keyboard already activated once you log on. This can be set up by clicking on the “Control whether the On-Screen Keyboard starts when I sign in” link at the bottom of the Options panel.

Control whether the On-Screen Keyboard starts when I sign in

This brings up a panel, at the top of which there’s a box that says “Use On-Screen Keyboard,” as indicated below. Check this box, and your computer will start with the On-Screen Keyboard already opened for you.

Use On-Screen Keyboard

How to use the text prediction with the On-Screen Keyboard

The predictive text function works a lot like similar functions featured on smartphones. Check the “Use Text Prediction” setting in the options panel to activate it. Note that this feature works only for English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish languages.

Text prediction for On-Screen Keyboard in Windows 10

It is recommended that you also check the “Insert space after predicted words” option. It saves you additional time by automatically hitting the spacebar for you after a word is predicted.

As you type, the function suggests words that you might be typing at the top of the On-Screen Keyboard. If you see the word you are attempting to type, click it, and the program instantly completes the word for you. This can help you type words faster. For example, if you were typing the word “lazy,” the predictive text function might catch on to this and provide the word at the top of the On-Screen Keyboard as indicated below. Then, simply click on the word, and it automatically completes it for you.

How text prediction works for On-Screen Keyboard

Do you use the Windows 10 virtual keyboard?

The On-Screen Keyboard is an alternative to using a physical keyboard to type on a computer. If a user suffers from wrist problems or other factors that keep him or her from typing normally, this may be an answer to be able to continue typing. It is also a good fix if you do not have a functional keyboard hooked up to your machine. For other tutorials about tools that ease access to your Windows 10 computer, check the recommendations below.