Using Some Keyboard Alternatives

Most of us who have been using the Windows operating system for a long time know that it mostly relied on two very important hardware; the keyboard and the mouse for providing input and navigating through its features. This was true in all of the Windows version that were released before Windows 8 and once one of the keys on a laptop computer for instance gets busted, you’ll surely have a hard time entering some words and other document related stuff. The on-screen keyboard was available of course which you can use with a mouse but having a real keyboard was always more comfortable.

Things have changed many times over in the new Windows 8.1! The operating system that once only allowed a keyboard and a mouse as a way in providing input has now been improved and a lot of innovations have been done to it which are all geared up to making users become more productive even in the midst of busted keys. To learn some input alternatives which are available on your Windows 8.1 machine and learn how you can use them, simply read this tutorial from top to bottom.

The On-Screen Keyboard

One fast alternative that you can use when your keyboard is not working is a tool called the “on-screen keyboard”. This feature is included in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and it looks similar to the touchscreen keyboard which is available in devices having a touch-enabled screen that runs in Windows 8.1. You can use the on-screen keyboard even if your machine is just an ordinary one with a screen that does not support touch capabilities. To access this tool, simply follow the steps below.

1. There are many ways to access the tool; the easiest probably is by using the built-in search capability of Windows 8.1. To use the search feature, simply access the charms then click on the “Search” charm. Once the search screen appears, simply type in “on-screen” to the search input box.


2. After typing the keyword, you’ll notice some search results that will appear just below the search input box and one of it is the shortcut that would open the on-screen keyboard. Simply click on it to initialize the tool.


Another way of accessing the tool is by going to the location of the shortcut itself and it involves another brand new feature which is not available in all previous Windows versions. Here are the steps.

1. Access the Start Screen by clicking on the Start Button or by pressing the Windows Key. Once the Start Screen appears, just move the mouse pointer on it to make some hidden buttons and the scroll bar appear on the screen.

2. After moving the mouse, you will notice an arrow-down button on the bottom-left part of the screen. You will need to click this button in order to access the “Apps” view which lists all the installed programs and apps and as well as system locations available on your computer. From this list, simply look for the “On-Screen Keyboard” shortcut.


This list is arranged alphabetically based on categories. The shortcut for the “On-Screen Keyboard” is listed under the “Windows Ease of Access” category so you will need to scroll a little bit towards the end to be able to see it. Once you find it, simply click on it to open the tool.


How to Use the On-Screen Keyboard Tool

The on-screen keyboard tool is designed to be used as an alternative when the physical keyboard fails. It has all the keys that the real keyboard has except of course for the function keys that are on the top most portion of most keyboards but you can use the numeric keys + the “Fn” key to execute the same action done by the function keys. The on-screen keyboard looks like the screenshot below.


To use the keyboard, simply get the mouse, point it to the letter that you want to use and click it. Just do the same action to all of the letters and characters that you want to use. You can also use the physical keyboard and the on-screen keyboard. This is very effective especially when only one key on the real keyboard is busted so you can still type some characters as fast as you can while using the on-screen  keyboard only for the busted key.

The Touchscreen Keyboard

Since Windows 8.1 works not just on traditional mouse and keyboard computers but also in the modern mouse + keyboard + touch setup, there’s another type of input method that you can use especially when your device is equipped with a touch-enabled screen. Using this tool is very much the same as using the on-screen keyboard but it is a bit faster in terms of typing speeds because you will be using your own fingers instead of the mouse. It is like typing on a real keyboard! To use this tool, simply follow the steps below.

1. The touchscreen keyboard automatically appears when you want to type something on a document-processing software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Excel, Notepad and other related stuff so all you need to do is open any of these software and point to its main screen where you will be typing the characters that you want to enter. After doing so, you will notice that the touchscreen keyboard will automatically appear. When it does, you can start typing in the words, symbols and characters into the software you have just opened.


2. To switch between the letter and symbol keys, all you need to do is tap on the key located at the bottom-right corner of the screen with the label “&123” when you are on the letters mode or “abc” if you are currently on the numbers mode. Once you do so, the label on the keys will change and switch to what you want it to and the label on the button will also change. At the top-right portion of the touchscreen keyboard Window, you will see two buttons both for minimizing and closing the tool. See the screenshot above for the exact location of these buttons.

Get More Tasks Done

As you can see, Windows has awesome tools that will boost your productivity even in the midst of hardware malfunctions. The two keyboards mentioned in this tutorial are just two of the alternative input methods that are featured in Windows 8.1. Take time and try using these on your Windows machine both on a laptop or a touchscreen device that runs on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 and get things done easily anytime. Windows 8.1 still has even more tools and features that will surely boost your productivity many times over and they are all available right at your fingertips because the operating system works perfectly with touchscreen gestures and responds smoothly even when you do multiple tasks with it. You also don’t need to worry even if your machine doesn’t have a touch-enabled screen because Windows 8.1 works well even with the traditional input methods done by using a keyboard and a mouse.