Accessing and Customizing the Windows On-Screen Keyboard

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The On-Screen Keyboard (OSK or osk.exe) in Windows is a versatile and customizable tool that offers an alternative to the physical keyboard, particularly useful for users with mobility or vision impairments, or in scenarios where a physical keyboard is not available or practical. Here’s an updated guide on how to use and customize the OSK in Windows.

Windows on-screen keyboard

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Accessing the On-Screen Keyboard

The On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) in Windows can be accessed in several ways, depending on the version of Windows you are using:

  • Windows 11 and Windows 10:
    • Go to the Start menu.
    • Select Settings.
    • Navigate to Accessibility (Ease of Access in Windows 10).
    • Choose Keyboard and turn on the On-Screen Keyboard toggle.
  • Windows 8.1:
    • Access via Charms.
    • Go to PC Settings.
    • Select the Ease of Access panel.
    • Move the slider to turn on the On-Screen Keyboard.
  • Shortcut Method:Press Win + Ctrl + O to open the OSK in both Windows 11 and 10.
  • Sign-In Screen:
    • Click the Ease of Access button on the sign-in screen.
    • Select On-Screen Keyboard.

Customizing the On-Screen Keyboard

The OSK offers various customization options to enhance your experience:

  • Open the On-Screen Keyboard.
  • Select the Options key.
  • Choose from the following options:
    • Use click sound: Hear a sound when you press a key.
    • Show keys to make it easier to move around the screen: Enables keys for repositioning the OSK.
    • Turn on numeric keypad: Expands the OSK to show a numeric keypad.
    • Click on keys: Click or tap the on-screen keys to enter text.
    • Hover over keys: Use a mouse or joystick to point at keys for automatic entry.
    • Scan through keys: Allows the OSK to scan the keyboard for character entry using various input methods.
    • Use Text Prediction: Suggests words as you type. Available in multiple languages.

Troubleshooting and Tips

  • Restoring Minimized OSK: If minimized in hover or scanning mode, point to it in the taskbar or press the scan key.
  • Auto Start at Login:
    • Open Control Panel.
    • Navigate to Ease of Access Center.
    • Select Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard.
    • Check the Use On-screen keyboard box for the OSK to start automatically at sign-in.
  • Disabling Auto Popup: Uncheck the Use On-screen keyboard box in the Ease of Access Center to prevent unwanted auto popups.

Additional Features in Windows 11’s Touch Keyboard

Windows 11’s touch keyboard adds some nifty features. For example, it can display recently copied text for easy pasting, supports handwriting input for stylus users, and offers a variety of emojis and GIFs.

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