Onscreen Keyboard

What Does Onscreen Keyboard Mean?

An onscreen keyboard is a software-based keyboard that is available in most operating systems, especially Microsoft Windows, and in other applications. An onscreen keyboard allows users to type text using a joystick or a pointing device. Apart from improving input options for users who are physically challenged, it also serves as an alternative to a physical keyboard.

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Onscreen keyboards are also known as software keyboards or soft keyboards.

Techopedia Explains Onscreen Keyboard

An onscreen keyboard displays a virtual keyboard on the screen for users to enter input. It can be operated with the help of any pointing device such as a mouse, pen, joystick, etc. The keyboard is often resizable and customizable, allowing the typing mode, font, etc., to be changed as needed. In certain onscreen keyboards, especially those from Windows 7 and later versions, they are equipped with a predictive text engine, which helps in predicting the words the users may type.

There are several ways an onscreen keyboard can come in handy. It is useful, for example, for physically challenged users who have difficulty using a physical keyboard. It can also be used as an alternative or a temporary keyboard in case the physical keyboard becomes defective. Using an onscreen keyboard also prevents keystrokes from being captured by certain spyware programs such as keyloggers.

However, as typing on an onscreen keyboard is slower and more difficult than on a physical keyboard, most onscreen keyboards feature predictive text input.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.