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How to Turn on and Customize the On-screen

This page explains step-by-step how to turn on and use the on-screen keyboard in Mac OS X. An on-screen keyboard may be the best way to input information if you have a physical condition that makes using a keyboard difficult but you are able to use a mouse or other pointing device.

An on-screen keyboard looks just like a picture of a keyboard on the screen. Letters can be selected from the keyboard using a mouse, a single switch or a joystick.

Step 1: Set up the on-screen keyboard

Make sure you are in "Finder." If necessary, press Apple+Tab to cycle through the open applications until you return to "Finder."

Click on the "Apple" icon on the menu bar or press Ctrl+F2.

Click on "System Preferences," as shown in fig. 1, or press the down arrow key to highlight it and then press Enter.

fig. 1


Click on the "Keyboard" icon, as shown in fig. 2.

fig. 2

System Preferences: Keyboard

In the "Keyboard" window (fig. 3), tick the box next to "Show input menu in menu bar" by clicking on it.

fig. 3

Keyboard Preferences Menu

Click on the "Keyboard" window's red close button or press Apple+W.

Step 2: Turn on the on-screen Keyboard Viewer

To view the keyboard, click on the icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar. Select "Show Keyboard Viewer" from the drop-down menu as shown in fig. 4. (There is no keyboard shortcut for this).

fig. 4


The on-screen keyboard (shown in fig. 5) will appear and float over all applications.

fig. 5


To make the keyboard larger, click on the green "+" symbol on the keyboard.