An excellent free OSK rivals many commercial OSKs in accessibility


Our rating: 


Pros & Cons:

Multiple keyboard layouts, predictive text, can be resized, different languages and key layout is highly customizable.
Not particularly stylish in appearance.

Our Review:

Click-N-Type is an excellent free OSK that rivals many commercial OSKs in the accessibility space. It is highly functional and very customizable, but isn't terribly pretty and the breadth of options may be a little daunting for some users.

Like all the OSKs, Click-N-Type sends its button presses to the active application (the topmost one, the one in focus), just as if keys had been typed on a physical keyboard. To eliminate any chance of misdirection, Click-N-Type thoughtfully notes the name of the currently active application in its title bar. Before beginning, the user might see fit to set the text cursor to the precise desired position within that targeted application. Or you could simply employ the OSKs arrow keys to move around within a block of text, and the Tab and Shift+Tab keys to navigate among different entry fields within Click-N-Type.

The keyboard can be resized easily, and the fonts rescale automatically when doing so. This should suit many users of assistive technologies, and those who would like a resizeable keyboard for use with a touch-screen computer. There are a number of different keyboard layouts to choose from; If you need those arrow keys then be sure to select a layout, from the File menu, that includes them. When first installed, the default layout will likely be set different from those keyboards to which you're accustomed. The one shown in the image above is their selectable "QWERTY101-short" layout, the one that most resembles the norm.

There are many language and keyboard layout packs available, and you can even download a free utility from their website to customize your own. Click-N-Type shows the correct characters for each language's needs - a Japanese language pack, for example, will show Japanese characters on the keys, regardless of what language has been set in Windows. This will be of great benefit to people wanting to use a native keyboard on a foreign computer.

Click-N-Type offers a predictive text engine (as a separate free download) that works exceptionally well. Power users can add and change words in that engine by editing the language file in a word processor or notepad.

An assistive feature they call Autoclick allows users to perform hover delay entry. This mode is especially useful for persons who have difficulty operating a standard mouse and so must rely on a joystick, headpointer or eyetracker. Delay and repeat times are very configurable. A real handy macro feature is also available, allowing users to record and later playback oft-used sequences of characters.

For those who lack the ability to wield a pointing device and rely instead on a signal button or use of a single key (e.g. the Space Bar), Click-N-Type offers entry by scanning. Their scanning method is arguably faster than that of others, like Microsoft's built-in OSK, because it employs a three-way scan or literally, triangulation. The user signals first to select from successive blocks of keys, then signals to select a row within the block, and lastly signals to land on the target. It might be a tad less intuitive at first than row-by-row scanning but it is nonetheless, a superior design.

Click-N-Type was reviewed by on