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Although they are often forgotten, the latest version of Microsoft Windows 10 includes a simple to enable and use set of virtual interfaces. These virtual input devices can come in handy under certain conditions when proper ergonomic interaction with your device is problematic.

For many of us, working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic means working with the reality of children and pet interactions and interruptions to our workflow. Obviously, it can be difficult to type with a squirming (or purring) creature on our lap, which is where an alternative virtual interface can save the day.

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Learn more: Windows 10

This how-to tutorial shows you how to enable and use the virtual interface built into Microsoft Windows 10.

Enable and use virtual input devices in Windows 10

Enabling access to the built-in Windows 10 virtual interface is about as simple as it gets for this operating system. Right-click on any open area of your Taskbar and select the “Show touch keyboard button” item from the context menu (Figure A).

Figure A

Showing the touch keyboard button means that you should now have a keyboard icon located in the taskbar tray on your Windows 10 desktop, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Clicking that icon in your taskbar will bring up a virtual keyboard, as shown in Figure C. You can click the virtual keys with your mouse or, if you have a touch display, you can tap the keys with your finger. Click the X in the upper right corner to hide the virtual keyboard again.

Figure C

By choosing one of the icons located in the upper left-hand corner of your virtual keyboard, you can change the default settings. There are three different styles of virtual keyboards, including a full QWERTY keyboard (Figure D). You can also opt to enable the microphone to open the dictation interface or one of the touchpad options to move to an interface that supports touch displays.

Figure D

Beyond the type of interface and style of keyboard, there is also an option to choose a different language for your virtual keyboard.

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed how and where many of us work. Whether it is in the home office, bedroom, or in the living room on the couch, working from home often requires alternative, or at the very least awkward, interaction with our devices. The simple to enable and use virtual keyboard, touchpad, and dictation app built into Windows 10 adds more choices to your interface toolkit.