Write it out: Using Tablet PC Input Panel instead of your keyboard

For sure, 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 or the character pad to convert your handwriting into typed text, or even use the on-screen keyboard to enter characters.

Handwriting recognition is currently available for English, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), Korean, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese (Brazil). If you are not using one of these input languages, you can use the on-screen keyboard in Tablet PC Input Panel to enter text without using a standard keyboard.

What's new in Input Panel?

Input Panel has a new look and several new features. These new features include:

AutoComplete. AutoComplete in Tablet PC works just like AutoComplete in common programs, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. AutoComplete lists possible matches in Input Panel, such as e-mail addresses, URLs, file names, and other items that you've entered before.

When Input Panel recognizes your handwriting, AutoComplete displays possible matches from the program in a list near the writing area. If a suggestion in the list of matches is what you want to enter, tap the suggestion to enter it in the text entry area.

Input Panel tab. The Input Panel tab provides a quick and easy way to open and position Input Panel on the screen. When Input Panel is closed, the Input Panel tab appears on the left edge of your screen by default.

Animated diagram of the Input Panel tab sliding out from the edge of the screen
Input Panel tab

To open Input Panel, simply tap the Input Panel tab, and Input Panel slides out from the edge of your screen. When you close Input Panel, it slides back to the edge of the screen.

You can move the Input Panel tab by dragging it up or down along the edge of the screen. Then, when you tap it, Input Panel opens at the same horizontal location on the screen that the tab appears.


  • Use the Input Panel tab to open Input Panel when you're running a program that uses the entire the screen, such as Remote Desktop.

Back-of-pen erase. If your tablet pen has an eraser, you can use it to delete handwriting and recognized text from Input Panel. It works in the writing pad, the character pad, and the correction area.

Scratch-out gestures. Windows includes new, more tolerant scratch-out gestures to delete your handwriting or recognized text in Input Panel. These scratch-out gestures are intended to work better with your personal style of crossing out text in Input Panel. The new scratch-out gestures include, but are not limited to:

  • Strikethrough, a horizontal line drawn across a word

  • Vertical scratch-out, in the pattern of an M or W

  • Circular scratch-out

  • Angled scratch-out

You can still use the Z-shaped scratch-out gesture that was available in Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.

If your handwriting is sometimes accidentally deleted by one of the new scratch-out gestures, you can adjust your settings to use only the Z-shaped scratch-out gesture.

To learn more about the new scratch-out gestures and how to adjust your settings, see How do I use gestures in Tablet PC Input Panel?

Entering text

You can use the writing pad, the character pad, or the on-screen keyboard to enter text. The writing pad and the character pad convert your handwriting into typed text. The on-screen keyboard works just like a standard keyboard except that you enter text by tapping keys with your tablet pen. The following table describes the different choices for using Input Panel.

Picture of the Writing Pad button

With the writing pad, you can write continuously, as if you were writing on a lined piece of paper.

Picture of the Character Pad button

The character pad converts your handwriting to typed text, one letter, number, or symbol at a time.

Picture of the On-Screen Keyboard button

The on-screen keyboard is similar to a standard keyboard.

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. These quick keys are hidden when you start to write, but appear after you insert or delete your handwriting.


  • If the password security settings are turned on, Input Panel automatically switches to the on-screen keyboard when you place the insertion point in a text input area where you enter a password.

Correcting text

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

You can correct your handwriting recognition results directly in the writing pad or the character pad before you insert the text.

To erase a word or a character, use a scratch-out gesture or the back-of-pen erase to remove the word or character, and then start over.

In the writing pad for Western languages, you can use the correction area to fix incorrectly recognized text. You can select an alternate word that Input Panel suggests, or rewrite letters to correct the word in the correction area. To access the correction area, tap the recognized text for the word that you want to correct.

In the character pad, you can write over an incorrectly recognized character or use the drop-down menu to select from a list of characters that the handwriting recognizer has identified as alternates.

If you've already inserted the text in a program, you can select the text that you want to correct, and then either select an alternate word that Input Panel suggests or use the correction area to correct the word.

Tips for using Input Panel

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

  • Use the number pad to insert numbers. To open the number pad, tap the Num button on the writing pad or the character pad.

  • Use the symbol pad to insert symbols. To open the symbol pad, tap the Sym button on the writing pad or the character pad.

  • Use web quick keys to enter URLs more quickly. To open the web quick keys, tap the Web button on the writing pad or the character pad.

  • Use gestures to perform common keystroke actions.

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