How to use the touch keyboard

Watch a video about how to use the touch keyboard. (To view captions in your language, tap or click the Closed captioning button Closed Captioning button.)

With Windows 8.1, you can use different keyboards to fit your needs. The most common keyboard is a physical, external keyboard that you connect to your PC. Windows 8.1 also includes a touch keyboard for PCs with touch.

To use the touch keyboard

To use the touch keyboard, tap the screen in a place where text can be entered and the keyboard should appear. If you're in the desktop, tap the touch keyboard icon Taskbar touch keyboard icon in the desktop taskbar to open the touch keyboard. To close the touch keyboard, tap outside the text box or tap the touch keyboard icon Close keyboard icon, and then the close keyboard icon Close keyboard icon.

If you want to open the touch keyboard manually (without tapping in a text field or other area where you can type), here's how:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings.)

  2. Tap the Keyboard icon.

  3. Tap Touch keyboard and handwriting panel.

Touch keyboard
The touch keyboard

To check if a PC has a touchscreen

If you can't open the touch keyboard, verify that your PC has a touchscreen. Use your finger to tap a tile on Start. If it’s a touchscreen, the app will open. You can also use your mouse to check your current system settings:

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Click PC and devices, and then Click PC info.

  3. Under PC, check the Pen and Touch setting. This describes what sort of input your screen supports.

If you have a touchscreen, touch input is on by default and can’t be turned off. If you expect your laptop or monitor to respond to touch and it doesn’t, check the manufacture’s website to make sure it supports touch and that you have the correct drivers installed.

To change the touch keyboard layout

To use different layouts of the touch keyboard, or to switch to keyboard layouts in other languages, tap the touch keyboard icon Touch keyboard icon in the lower-right corner of the keyboard, and then tap the keyboard layout you'd like to switch to.
If you're standing or need to hold a tablet with both hands, you might want to switch to the thumb keyboard, which splits the keys on either side of the screen, making it easier and more comfortable to use. To switch to the thumb keyboard, tap the touch keyboard icon Touch keyboard icon , and then tap the thumb keyboard icon Thumb keyboard icon. Change the size of the thumb keyboard by pressing and sliding the three dots next to the Spacebar on the left side of the keyboard.
Thumb keyboard
The thumb keyboard

Suggestions and corrections

As you use the touch keyboard, Windows might provide text suggestions to help you enter words more quickly or to correct misspellings. To insert a suggestion, tap it, or, if it's highlighted, just press Spacebar. To switch the highlighted word, swipe right or left on the Spacebar.

Text suggestions while typing an email
Touch keyboard suggestions

Touch keyboard tips and tricks

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your touch keyboard.

  • At the end of a sentence, double-tap the Spacebar to insert a period and a space. (Not available when using an input method editor [IME] in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean.)

  • Press and hold keys to see similar characters. For example, pressing and holding "e" reveals è, ē, é, ê, and ë. (Not available when using an IME in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.)

  • Turn Caps Lock on by double-tapping the Shift key. (Not available when using an IME in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese.)

  • Flick up on any of the keys in the first row (the row that starts with QWERTY) to insert the corresponding numbers (located in the top left of the keys).

  • Tap the "&123" key to switch to the numbers and symbols view. You can switch to and from the numbers and symbols view more quickly by pressing and holding the “&123” key, tapping the keys you want, and then releasing it.

  • Use keyboard shortcuts by tapping the Ctrl key and then tapping another key.

  • If you're looking for some fun characters, tap the Emoticon key.


  • If your touch keyboard appears when you don't want it to, your PC might be set up incorrectly. Try running the touch keyboard troubleshooter (available only in English) to fix the problem.

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