How to use and customize the touch keyboard in Windows 11

In Windows 11, you can use and tweak the touch keyboard when you don’t have a physical keyboard. Here’s how to use this handy feature.



Windows 11 offers a touch keyboard through which you can tap to type if you’re using a device without a physical keyboard. But there’s more to the touch keyboard than appears at first glance. Beyond accessing all the standard alphanumeric keys, you can insert keyboard shortcuts, emoji and symbols. You can adjust the size of the keyboard, change the size of each key and apply different visual themes. Here’s how.

First, the touch keyboard should automatically pop up when Windows 11 detects that you need to enter text but your device lacks a physical keyboard. However, you can also trigger the keyboard manually. To set this up, go to Settings, Personalization, and then Taskbar. Select the setting for “Taskbar Corner Icons” and turn on the switch for Touch Keyboard (Figure A).

Figure A

The touch keyboard icon then always appears on the Taskbar. Open an application, document, email or website where you can enter text, and then click the icon to display the keyboard. The touch keyboard works similarly to any other type of virtual keyboard. You can switch between lowercase and uppercase letters. Press down on one of the keys at the top to insert a number. Tap the &123 key to switch to numbers and symbols. Tap the microphone key to dictate text. You can also enter keyboard shortcuts by using the Windows key, Ctrl key or Alt key (Figure B).

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Figure B

To insert emoji, animated GIFs or symbols, tap the second icon from the left (the one with a heart in a square). From here, tap each of the resulting icons depending on what you want to insert (Figure C).

Figure C

The touch keyboard also works with the universal clipboard in Windows 11, allowing you to paste not only the last item you copied but a history of the items you’ve copied. Copy an item in your current document or file, and it will appear in the top middle of the keyboard so you can paste it by tapping it (Figure D).

Figure D

To see all of the current items in your clipboard history, tap the second icon from the left again and then tap the last icon in the list, the one for universal clipboard. From the history, tap the item you want to paste (Figure E).

Figure E

To alter the size of the keyboard, tap the Gear icon at the left and move to Keyboard layout. You can choose among Default, Small, Split and Traditional (Figure F).

Figure F

If you’d prefer to enter text by drawing it, click the Gear icon and select Handwriting. You can now use your finger or a stylus on a touch screen or your mouse on any type of screen to draw each character (Figure G). To return to one of the regular keyboards, click the Gear icon, move to Keyboard layout and select the layout you want to use.

Figure G

Want to control the size and look of the keyboard? Click the Gear icon and select Theme and resize. Move the slider for Keyboard size to precisely apply a specific size. Next, click one of the themes to repaint your keyboard with it. You can even create your own theme (Figure H).

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Figure H

Scroll down further in the keyboard settings and you can turn the key background on or off and change the size of the keys among small, medium and large (Figure I).

Figure I

Next, click the entry for Typing settings at the settings screen. Here, you can enable or disable a few options, such as showing text suggestions, auto-correcting misspelled words, and highlighting misspelled words. Finally, select the entry for Language & Region to change or add a language and regional format for the touch keyboard (Figure J).

Figure J

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