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In my capacity as “the guy who knows something about computers”, I occasionally get a phone call from a frantic friend or acquaintance to come round and help them fix their computer. Their problems normally come about because they’d thought they’d see what would happen if they deleted the “Windows” folder or because they thought it was their lucky day when someone emailed them an attachment entitled “nakedBritneySpearsphotos.exe”. I guess you get the idea what kind of people we’re talking about.

Well the other day I went round to an acquaintance to help out with a computer issue and I discovered right away that the keyboard was totally dead, one of the problems being that the pet cat had decided to use it as the toilet (as well as pieces of food stuck between the keys). So if I was going to be doing any typing for this guy to work out his computer problem, I needed a replacement keyboard and fast. That was when I got out my USB stick and fired up Portable On-Screen Keyboard – “a virtual keyboard to go”

Portable Keyboard App

Portable On-Screen Keyboard is part of the Portable Apps Suite by John Haller. As you can see, it’s a no-frills interface but who cares as long as it works, right? Basically you just start it up, then open the program you want to type in (a browser, MS Word, whatever), then use your mouse to click on whatever keyboard key you need. Those keys will then immediately show up in your typing program as if you were using a real keyboard – no time lag, nothing.

This lightweight program is an absolutely fantastic and essential program to have on your USB stick, especially if you are in the habit of fixing other people’s computers with dodgy keyboards on a regular basis. Next time you find yourself with a keyboard with broken keys or sticky stains, toss it to one side and use Portable On-Screen Keyboard instead. Plus you can also use it while accessing sensitive online accounts to make sure that no keylogger can grab the username and password letters.

  1. Jonathan B.
    July 31, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Five minutes of using this and I'm sure I'd be on the way to the store to buy another keyboard.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

      It's not meant to be a long term solution. Just a temporary quick fix in an emergency.

  2. Mark
    July 31, 2008 at 7:25 am

    You're not telling me the program this article is about *isn't* the built in one? The layout is identical.

    [edit: I followed the link - it *IS* the Windows keyboard, the software just gives you the ability to port your settings from one PC to another.

    BTW - this offers NO protection for software keyloggers - read their site for confirmation of this.]

    • Mark
      July 31, 2008 at 7:31 am

      doublepost

  3. FekketCantenel
    July 30, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    ...

    This is scarily relevant. For the past two days, my dad was having crazy trouble with his computer, which we first attributed to a virus. The keyboard typed random letters, numbers, and hotkeys all by itself, causing him to lose files and be confronted with huge rows of gibberish. I ran AVG and safe-mode sysclean, didn't solve it (but did pick up some viruses).

    Then I had the bright idea that it might be the keyboard finally glitching out (it's been half-broken for a long time). I immediately unplugged it and had to use the Windows on-screen keyboard (no doubt inferior to this) while I checked some things. He's now using a spare from a closet until he can buy a new one.

    I'm wishing I had this program then, even for the few minutes of mouse-typing I did. Thanks for the article.

  4. Ankur
    July 30, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Michoel is absolutely right.
    Inbuilt onscreen keyboard of Windows is awsome.

  5. Michoel
    July 30, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Why use a third-party application when Windows comes with it's own on screen keyboard? Start Menu-> All Programs -> Accessories -> Accessibility -> On-Screen Keyboard. Just my food for thought..

    Michoel

  6. DesignerDad
    July 30, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks, this adds another great tool to my portable apps arsenal. Could another use for this be for use on public computers or for wi-fi hotspots to avoid keylogging?

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