In Windows 8, you can use Touch Keyboard if you have touch panel.
To use touch keyboard, you can call from Setting Charm, under keyboard, or keyboard icon in desktop task bar. If you don’t see keyboard icon in task bar, right click task bar and enable from tool bar menu.
Touch keyboard can be changed in 3 different mode, QWERTY, thumb, and handwriting.
Also, under PC Settings, turn on “Make the standard keyboard layout available” option and you will have 4th mode in list.
This is useful if you have touch panel, but under some environment, touch keyboard is shown in small size.
Some say that installing Wacom driver will case touch keyboard to be shown small, but my Viliv N5 shows keyboard tinier than task bar even without Wacom driver, so I don’t know what is causing this problem.
Preview version of Windows 8 had functionality to adjust touch keyboard window size, but this option is gone. I hope this will be fixed in future update, but until then, I have to find workaround.
You might know in Windows 8, there’s another software keyboard which exists from former version of windows. Open control panel, Ease of access center, and you will see Start on-screen keyboard.
Starting screen keyboard will launch full sized keyboard window.
You do can use this keyboard in Store App, resize window, snap to edge of screen (depending on display resolution), simple mode with page up/down key, transparency, and has more other functions.
Even under environment touch keyboard not functioning, screen keyboard works well.
However, if you want to use screen keyboard while using Store Apps, going to control panel each time is a pain. Well then, let’s replace touch keyboard with screen keyboard.
Touch Keyboard executable is under following path.
C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ink\TabTip.exe
When launching touch keyboard, above exe is called. Replacing this exe with other exe will launch that exe. You will need some trick to replace this file, due to access restriction.
To do manually, use Command Prompt (Admin) and go to above path, enter
takeown /f TabTip.exe && icacls TabTip.exe /grant administrators:F
to gain control of file. Make backup copy of TabTip.exe to TabTip.exe.bk, and copy c:\windows\system32\osk.exe to TabTip.exe to use screen keyboard. You can copy cmd.exe to TabTip.exe to launch command prompt, for example.
To make life easier, I’ve created tool to easily switch touch keyboard to on-screen keyboard, and back to original. I’ll also post source code for reference (I used old tool, VC++ 6.0). Use at your own risk.
Place w8keyswitch.exe anywhere you want, and runas administrator.
First, take ownership and make backup copy of TabTip.exe. (Actual tool should show in English. If not, let me know)
Then, you can switch to TabTip (Touch Keyboard) or Osk (On screen keyboard). Internally, this is just copying original TabTip.exe.bk or Osk.exe under System32.
Setting to Osk, you can call screen keyboard from setting charm when you are using Store App.
There’s one known problem; if you set to Osk, Osk launches every time right after you sign-in.
I hope there’s better third party software keyboard become available in future.
This post is also available in: Japanese