Log In

How to Turn on and Customize the On-screen

This page explains step-by-step how to turn on and customize the on-screen keyboard in Windows 7. 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: Use the on-screen keyboard now

Open the "Ease of Access Center" window by pressing the Windows key+U, or by clicking the "Start" button, followed by "Control Panel," then "Ease of Access," then "Ease of Access Center."

Under the "Quick access to common tools" header, click "Start On-Screen Keyboard," as shown in fig. 1, or press Alt+K. This will start the on-screen keyboard for current use.

fig. 1

Make your computer easier to use: Start On-Screen Keyboard

Step 2: Set the on-screen keyboard to start every time

Follow these steps to make the on-screen keyboard start automatically when you log in.

Open the "Ease of Access Center" window as in Step 1. Under the "Explore all settings" header, click on "Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard" (fig. 2), or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

fig. 2

Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard

Under the "Type using a pointing device" header, tick the box next to "Use On-Screen Keyboard," as shown in fig. 3, or press Alt+K to tick it. Click the "OK" button, or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to finish.

fig. 3

Use On-Screen Keyboard

Step 3: Select how to use the on-screen keyboard

Once the keyboard is on screen, as shown in fig. 4, you can tailor it to suit your needs. Click the "Options" key on the on-screen keyboard to open the "Options" window (fig. 5).

fig. 4

On-Screen Keyboard

There are several ways you can choose to operate the keyboard, as shown in fig. 5.

fig. 5

Options: Click on keys

Click the radio button next to "Click on keys" to access the keyboard with a mouse or other pointing device by clicking on the cell (on-screen key) you wish to use.

Click the radio button next to "Hover over keys" to access the keyboard with a mouse or other pointing device by "hovering" over the cell to select it. You can choose the length of time that you will be required to hover by dragging the "Hover duration" slider.

Click the radio button next to "Scan through keys" to access the keyboard using a range of access devices, including the spacebar, a switch or a game pad. The scanning speed can be selected by dragging the "Scanning speed" slider.

Step 4: Turn on Text Prediction

In Windows 7, the On-screen Keyboard has an integrated text-prediction tool (shown in the top row in fig. 6), which can speed up typing and help with spelling.

To turn on text prediction, tick the box next to "Use Text Prediction," as shown in fig. 5. By ticking the box below it, you can also choose to add a space after all selected words.

fig. 6

On-Screen Keyboard