Virtual Keyboard for Office

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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.

1429 Google search virtual keyboard - Virtual Keyboard for Office

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

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.

1429 Windows Add input language - Virtual Keyboard for Office

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.

1429 Windows Language Bar and On Screen keyboard - Virtual Keyboard for Office

 

 

Another option is Virtual Keyboard (in German) by Andrej Koch – you can download the program from here.

1429 Virtual Keyboard 3 - Virtual Keyboard for Office

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).

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