Using the writing pad and touch keyboard in Tablet PC Input Panel

One of the great features of a Tablet PC is the ability to write directly on your computer. But what happens if the program that you're using doesn't recognize your handwriting? With Tablet PC Input Panel, you can use the writing pad to convert your handwriting into typed text, or use the touch keyboard to enter characters.

Picture of Tablet PC Input Panel
Tablet PC Input Panel

Entering text

You can use handwriting recognition or the touch keyboard to enter text. The following table describes these two options.

Handwriting recognition
Picture of the Writing Pad button

The writing pad and character pad convert handwriting into typed text.

The writing pad is the standard way to enter text with Input Panel. You can write continuously on the writing pad, like writing on a piece of lined paper. Most people experience better handwriting recognition accuracy with the writing pad.

Use the character pad to enter one character at a time. The character pad converts your handwriting to typed text, one letter, number, or symbol at a time, but doesn't take the context of the full word into account and doesn't take advantage of the handwriting dictionary. To switch to the character pad in Input Panel, tap Tools, and then tap Write character by character.

Touch keyboard
Picture of the Touch Keyboard button

The touch keyboard is like a standard keyboard, but you enter text by tapping the keys with your tablet pen (or your fingers, if touch input is available on your computer).

The writing pad and character pad have a number pad, a symbol pad, and web quick keys to help you quickly and accurately enter these types of text. The quick keys are hidden when you start to write, but appear after you insert or delete your writing.


  • By default, Input Panel automatically switches to the touch keyboard when you place the insertion point in a box for entering a password.

Correcting text

Input Panel provides several ways to correct the text that you enter.

  • Use scratch-out or the back-of-pen erase to erase a word or character, and then start over.

  • Use the split gesture to add a space in the middle of a word. Use the join gesture to remove a space between two words.

  • In the writing pad (Write in freehand style) for Western languages, use the correction area to fix incorrectly recognized text. To access the correction area, tap the recognized text for the word that you want to correct. To correct text, you can either select the suggested alternate word or rewrite letters.

  • In the character pad (Write character by character), write over an incorrectly recognized character or select an alternate character from the drop-down list.

  • In the writing pad (Write in freehand style), tap a word to correct it. Because the correction takes the whole word into account, the word might change as you correct individual characters.

  • In the writing pad (Write in freehand style), if you start to write in the space between two words, Input Panel automatically creates more space for your writing.

  • If you've already inserted text in a program, you can correct it by selecting the text, and then either selecting a suggested alternate word or using the correction area.

AutoComplete and text prediction

The AutoComplete and text prediction features in Input Panel work just like they do in some web browsers, e‑mail programs, and mobile phones.

AutoComplete provides suggestions in Input Panel, such as e‑mail addresses, URLs, and file names, to help you enter text quickly. When you use the touch keyboard, or when Input Panel recognizes your handwriting, AutoComplete displays a list of possible matches near the writing area.

To use a suggestion in the list of matches, tap that suggestion to enter it in the text entry area.

Text prediction is similar to AutoComplete, but anticipates what you're trying to type or write, based on what you've entered so far.

Text prediction for touch keyboard is available only in the following languages:

  • English (U.S. and U.K.)

  • French

  • Italian

  • German

  • Spanish

Text prediction for the character-by-character mode of the writing pad is available only in Chinese (Traditional) and Chinese (Simplified).

Handwriting personalization

You can teach the handwriting recognizer how you write by providing handwriting samples in the Handwriting Personalization tool.

Automatic learning gathers information about the words that you use and how you write them to improve handwriting recognition.

For more information, see Handwriting personalization on a Tablet PC.

Handwriting recognition error reporting

If Input Panel seems to incorrectly recognize your handwriting (even if you use the Handwriting Personalization tool), wouldn't you like to report it? Now you can. With handwriting recognition error reporting, you can send Microsoft the corrections you've made in Input Panel. Your feedback can then be used to improve the handwriting recognizer in future versions of Windows.

For more information, see Report handwriting recognition errors to Microsoft.

Tips for using Input Panel

Use the following tips to become more efficient with using Input Panel.

  • To insert numbers more quickly, use the number pad. To open the number pad, tap the Num button on the writing pad.

  • To insert symbols more quickly, use the symbol pad. To open the symbol pad, tap the Sym button on the writing pad.

  • To insert a URL more quickly, use web quick keys or web templates in the writing pad. To open web quick keys, tap the Web button on the writing pad.

    If web templates are turned on by the browser that you're using, the template will automatically open in the writing pad when your cursor is in the text field where you would normally type the URL, such as the address bar. To use the template, write the web address and then tap Go to to insert the text and navigate to the URL. A space will open up in the middle of the URL to give you room to write, but that space won't appear in the typed text after you tap Go to.

  • Use gestures to perform common actions, such as deleting or splitting words, adding a space, and backspacing.

  • Don't hyphenate a word if it doesn't fit on one line in the writing pad. Write the entire word on a new line instead.

For more information about how to improve handwriting recognition accuracy, see Strategies for improving handwriting recognition.