Use the On-Screen Keyboard

Published: September 7, 2006

Microsoft Windows XP includes the On-Screen Keyboard for those who prefer using a mouse or other pointing device (rather than a physical keyboard) to enter text. Different typing modes allow you to select a key by clicking, hovering over a key for a specific number of seconds, or using a joystick. You can start the On-Screen Keyboard using the Start menu. If you use the On-Screen Keyboard regularly, add a shortcut to your desktop to make it easier to open.

Start the On-Screen Keyboard using the Start menu

To launch the On-Screen Keyboard


Click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Accessibility, and then On-Screen Keyboard.

Start menu, All Programs menu, and submenus expanded to access the On-Screen Keyboard


The On-Screen Keyboard and On-Screen Keyboard dialog box appear. Click OK.

The On-Screen Keyboard dialog box with OK button selected

You can now use the On-Screen Keyboard by clicking the buttons with your mouse. To hold down the SHIFT, CTRL, or ALT keys, just click them once, and the keys will stay pressed until you click the next key.

Typing in Notepad using the On-Screen Keyboard

Create a desktop shortcut for the On-Screen Keyboard

To make a shortcut on your desktop to launch the On-Screen Keyboard


Right-click your desktop, point to New, and click Shortcut.

The desktop right-click menu with Shortcut selected


In the location field, type osk. Then click Next.

The Create Shortcut dialog box


Type On-Screen Keyboard. Then, click Finish.

The Select a Title for the Program dialog box

That's it! The shortcut to the On-Screen Keyboard utility is on your desktop.

How to change the typing mode

On-Screen Keyboard has three different modes:

Clicking mode. This is the default mode in which you use a mouse or other pointing device to click keys.

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.

Scanning mode. On-Screen Keyboard continually scans the keyboard and highlights areas where you can type keyboard characters by pressing a keyboard shortcut or by using a switch-input device.

To change typing mode


Click the Settings menu, and then click Typing Mode.

The On-Screen Keyboard Settings menu with Typing Mode selected


In the Typing Mode dialog box, click your preferred method of selecting keys. Then, click OK.

The Typing Mode dialog box

The On-Screen Keyboard simplifies text entry for users who prefer using a pointing device. For more information about Windows XP accessibility features, read Set up accessibility features.


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