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Might be Using the On Screen Keyboard on the Mac

How to Use the On Screen Keyboard on a Mac

Want to see all characters you can produce on your Mac by typing? Find out here how to open the on screen keyboard on a Mac to see the keyboard layout and enter characters by clicking.

First, What Happens When Your Fingers Wander?

Cat with a light touch
Cat with a light touch

A thousand diverse notes” sound, of course, as your fingers wander over the water organ’s keys. Claudian, a poet of late Antiquity describes it quite clearly, and all it takes to make the bronze pipes blow is a “light touch” on the earliest keyboard instrument.

Now, what if you want to know what a light touch of the CommandShift and U keys will produce on the instrument in front of you?

How to Open and Use the On-Screen Keyboard on a Mac

To enable and bring up the virtual macOS keyboard so you can view keyboard layouts and enter characters with either keys or a keyboard missing on a Mac:

First, enable the input menu in the menu bar:

  1. Click the Apple logo () in the menu.
  2. Select System Preferences… from the menu.

    Select "System Preferences…" from the menu. Apple
    Select “System Preferences…” from the menu
  3. Open the Keyboard category.
  4. Go to the Input Sources tab.
  5. Make sure Show input menu in menu bar is checked.

    Make sure "Show input menu in menu bar" is checked. Apple
    Make sure “Show input menu in menu bar” is checked

Now, to open the on-screen keyboard on your Mac:

  1. Click the input menu button in the menu bar.
  2. Select Show keyboard viewer from the menu.

    Select "Show keyboard viewer" from the menu. Apple
    Select “Show keyboard viewer” from the menu

To use the on-screen keyboard on a Mac:

  • Click any key to insert it.
    • Dead keys will appear in orange. A dead key is one that modifies the next key you press, to add an accent, for example.
  • Hold down keys—and modifier keys in particular—on the physical keyboard, if you have one, to see what effect they have.
    • Press the Option and Shift keys together, for example, to see what character pressing Option-Shift together with another key will insert.
    • You can also click modifier keys on the keyboard viewer; note that you can always only have one clicked, however.

      On-Screen Keyboard on a Mac - Keyboard Viewer. Apple
      On Screen Keyboard on a Mac – Keyboard Viewer

(On-Screen Keyboard for Mac tested with macOS Sierra 10.12; )

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Heinz Tschabitscher

Has been writing about email, communication and technology in an engaging and informative manner since 1997. Find out more.