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Apple OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard – Using the on-screen keyboard

Note: Mac key convention: ‘Ctrl’ is used for Control, ‘Apple’ is used for Command and ‘Alt’ is used for the Option key.

Note: For keyboard access make sure ‘Full keyboard access’ is turned on – you can turn it on or off; by pressing ‘Ctrl’ + ‘F1’ at any time.


The on-screen keyboard can be used instead of a physical keyboard to interact with your computer. You can use your mouse or pointing device to select the keys.

This page shows you how to start the Mac OS X on-screen keyboard and explains how it works:

Step 1

  • Make sure you are in ‘Finder’, press ‘Apple’ + ‘Tab’ if necessary to cycle through open applications until you return to ‘Finder’.
  • Click on the ‘Apple’ menu or press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘F2’.
  • Click on ‘System Preferences…’ as shown in Fig 1 or press the down arrow key to highlight it and then press ‘Enter’.

Fig 1

Step 2

  • Click on the ‘International’ icon or press ‘Tab’ repeatedly (you might need to press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘F7’ first) to cycle through the icons until the ‘International’ icon is highlighted with a blue border as shown in Fig 2 and then press the ‘Spacebar’.

Fig 2

  • Click to select ‘Input Sources’ or press ‘Ctrl’ + ‘F7’ to highlight one of the three tabs for example ‘Language’ and then press the left or right arrow key to select the ‘Input Sources’ tab.
  • To turn the ‘Keyboard & Character Viewer’ on click on the checkbox next to ‘Keyboard Viewer’ as shown in Fig 3 (no keyboard shortcut).
  • Click to select or ‘Tab’ to the ‘Show Input menu in menu bar’ checkbox and press the ‘Spacebar’ to select, Fig 3.

Fig 3

  • Click on the Desktop window’s close button or press ‘Apple’ + ‘W’.
  • To view the keyboard, click on the ‘Show Character’ in the upper right of the Apple menu and select ‘Show Keyboard Viewer’ (No Keyboard shortcut), Fig 4.

Fig 4

  • The on-screen keyboard will appear and float over all applications . To make the keyboard larger or smaller click on the green ‘+’ symbol on the keyboard , Fig 5.

Fig 5

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings cannot be changed due to local IT policies – contact your local IT support for further help.

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