Hardware and software keyboards

Windows and other operating systems allow you to install keyboards for various languages. In Windows, you can switch between installed keyboard layouts by pressing the Windows logo key+Spacebar, or selecting them from the system tray. For more information about keyboard layouts, see Typing settings.

In addition to hardware keyboards, Windows supports software or on-screen keyboards (OSK) for use with tablets and other Microsoft Windows devices (such as the Microsoft Surface). You can even use the Windows OSK without a touch screen. The Windows OSK might not have an identical layout compared to your hardware keyboard, but it should be similar. For example, function keys might be hidden by default, but appear when you select the Fn key.

Using the Windows OSK instead of a hardware keyboard can improve accessibility for some users. For example, switching on text prediction can speed up typing. Other modes for using alternative input devices with the OSK include Hover over keys and Scan through keys.

For more information about how to use the Windows OSK, see Use the On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) to type.

It's also possible to build your own keyboard layout or modify an existing layout using the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. You can download the tool from Microsoft Download Center.