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:

Enable Input Menu

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 
  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 

Open the macOS On-Screen Keyboard

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 

Use the Mac On-Screen Keyboard

To use the on-screen keyboard on a Mac:

  • Click any key to insert it.
    • Hint: So-called “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.
    • Example: Press the Option and Shift keys together, for example, to see what character pressing Option and Shift together with another key will insert.
    • Tip: 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 for Mac tested with macOS Sierra 10.12 and macOS High Sierra 10.13; updated July 2018; title image: StockUnlimited)