Virtual Keyboard for Office
Type in many languages from one keyboard.
Here’s how you can type in other languages using a single keyboard into any Window program including Microsoft Office.
Google has added a virtual keyboard to its search pages. On some search pages like google.co.th and google.ru you can now click on a symbol to see a virtual keyboard.
A virtual keyboard lets you click with a mouse on letters, in this case it lets you type in characters that might not be available on the keyboard attached to the computer. Handy for people travelling and faced with an unfamiliar keyboard.
That got us wondering about a similar feature in Microsoft Office or Windows.
Windows supplies an on-screen keyboard (Accessories | Ease of Access or Accessibility | On-Screen Keyboard. This accessory is intended for people who need help beyond the regular keyboard, but it has no obvious multi-language support.
Microsoft Office has only the Insert | Symbol feature which is great for typing the occasional character but very clumsy for typing words, let alone sentences. Similarly the long-standing Character Map accessory in Windows is difficult to use for more than the occasional letter or symbol.
Windows does have a multilingual keyboard though it’s hardly obvious since it’s a combination of two obscure features.
Firstly, add extra ‘keyboards’ to the Windows 7 setup from Control Panel | Region and Language | Keyboard and Languages | Change Keyboards. In Windows XP similar options are at Control Panel | Regional and Language Options | Languages | Details.
Under Installed Services there is a list of input languages and there’s probably only one – for example English (United States). Choose ‘Add’ to insert additional input language options from a long list. Windows 7 has a Preview button to see the keyboard layout.
The next step is to setup a way to change between these keyboards, there are various options we’ll look at the Language Bar. In Windows 7, Control Panel | Region and Language | Keyboard and Languages | Change Keyboards | Language Bar. In Windows XP similar options are at Control Panel | Regional and Language Options | Languages | Details | Settings | Language Bar.
With the Language Bar on the screen, you can see a pull-down list of your input languages.
Lastly, setup the on-screen keyboard. Windows XP: Programs | Accessories | Accessibility | On-Screen Keyboard. Windows 7: Programs | Accessories | Ease of Access | On-Screen Keyboard.
Use the Language Bar to switch languages and the appropriate keyboard will at the on-screen keyboard.
You can choose from 53 different languages. There are options to type into the display then paste to your program or have each key press entered directly into the other program (eg Word, PowerPoint etc).
- Using Alt to get accent and other characters
- Accent characters in Office
- Insert the Ghana Cedi character
- Typing Numero and other symbols