Best Free Onscreen Keyboard for Accessibility



As the name implies, an On-Screen Keyboard (OSK) is a virtual keyboard that is displayed on the computer screen. It is used as an alternative to a physical keyboard, so people can "type" by using a mouse or other input device.

As a general rule, these are two main reasons why someone would want to use an OSK: Accessibility and Security.

For accessibility, users prefer an OSK to a physical keyboard as they may wish to use their native language on a foreign-language machine; or they may not be able to use a physical keyboard, rather they use accessibility devices such as a pointing or touch-screen device.

The good news is that there are some great free programs that will assist with these needs. However, I want to stress that people should use the right tool for the job. Accessibility OSKs do not offer any real protection against malicious software, just as security OSKs do not offer much functionality as physical keyboard replacements.

For security, read this article Best Free Onscreen Keyboard for Security. This review recommends accessibility OSKs only.


Rated Products


An excellent free OSK rivals many commercial OSKs in accessibility

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Multiple keyboard layouts, predictive text, can be resized, different languages and key layout is highly customizable.
Not particularly stylish in appearance.
Read full review...

Microsoft On-Screen Keyboard  

A pre-installed OSK with standard and extended keyboard layout in Windows

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Hover delay entry and scanning features.
The keyboard does not resize ...fixed under Windows 7.
Read full review...

Free Virtual Keyboard  

Designed with pen computing in mind

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Good looking, resizes well, easy transparency. Great for touch computing.
No assistive functions (scanning etc). Only Western languages available.
Read full review...


It is an OSK, minus the keyboard

Our Rating: 
License: Free
Highly innovative. Many languages. A good variety of control styles: click, eyetracker, stylus etc.
Designed for accessibility; takes time to learn interface to get up to speed.
Read full review...

Honourable Mention

  • Tapir is an assistive on-screen keyboard with an entry method similar to mobile phones. It has very good predictive text capabilities and was created by the same team as Dasher (Open Source).


Related Products and Links

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Average: 4 (72 votes)


They look all "standard". Like real keayboards.
Im am interested in a really free customizable "Keyboard", a board with keys.
But with free customizable buttons (text and graphic) over the whole Touchscreen.

I would use it as a big comfortable an flexible video exiting keyboard.
Every free customizable button needs a free customizable shortcut.
This touchscreen monitor I would use for video editing, flat on the desktop (in front of the monitor).


Also when you are short of USBs.
e.g. A laptop with 3, one is busted, the 4-in-1 units don't work.

You need to use the 2nd USB for a backup unit, or anything.

Replace the keyboard with onscreen, and you can function pretty much normally.


My question relates to 'focus' returning to the 'active window/Form/Dialog'
I have written a lot of VB6 programs on my XP PC.
Some of my programs are required to be polite, and not steal 'focus' That is, they appear and then disappear when clicked (or mouse'd). For example my ClipBuddy displays a list of pre-stored clips, and I click one, and ClipBuddy minimizes to the Sys Tray, and sends the clicked clip to the previously active window. My code relies on the previously active window being active again, as soon as my ClipBuddy hides itself.
I don't like Windows 7, but I have had occasion to use it.
I notice it is less co-operative in returning focus to the previously active window.

In the opening of your reviews you say -
"Like all the OSKs, Click-N-Type sends its button presses to the active application (the topmost one, the one in focus)"
Does that mean they are all polite, and all manage to return focus to the previously active Window.
Even in Windows 7 ?
I am in the process of repairing one of my old PCs, so it may be a wee while, before I get Win 7 available to test what I have been mumbling/grumbling about, above.