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Virtual Keyboards: A quick tutorial
Today, nearly every touchscreen device comes with a virtual keyboard. This is a keyboard that exists on the screen only. Many devices today have no physical keyboard, and the only way to enter text is via a virtual keyboard.
Even if your device has a physical keyboard, you will find the virtual keyboard very useful. We'll provide an example in a moment.
These virtual keyboards are nearly always designed to industry standards, which means that if you can use one of them you can use any of them. Thus, there is zero learning curve to use a virtual keyboard on one device then use another virtual keyboard on another device.
When you "bring up" the virtual keyboard so that you can see it on the screen, programmers say you "invoke" it. Don't let terminology confuse you. There is no trick to this.
Remember, all touchscreen devices work with icons (picture symbols) to represent desired functions or actions. Normally, there will be a keyboard icon on the bottom of your screen and it's normally in the middle. Tap this with your stylus
Let's say you need to use a letter or character from another alphabet. Let's say it's a Spanish character such the letter "n" with a tilde over it. English has no such character. If you don't have a Spanish physical keyboard, how do you enter this character?
The solution is very simple. Assuming your device has Spanish translation software (or is, in fact, an actual Spanish translation device) that allows you to translate from Spanish to English, the device will have a Spanish virtual keyboard. Choose to translate from Spanish to English, and invoke the keyboard.
But wait--your symbol isn't there. What do you do?
Again, the solution is very simple. Tap the SHIFT key. You will notice the keyboard changes. In essence, you have a different keyboard entirely, with a different set of characters. Now, you'll find your symbol. Tap the SHIFT key again to go back to your original keyboard.
You change the behavior of your virtual keyboard through the use ofcontrol keys. There is nothing mysterious about this and nothing you have to memorize. We've already talked about the SHIFT key. The "123" and CAP keys may also be on your virtual keyboard. Play with them and see what they do. In short, if it's not part of the QWERTY system, it may be a control key.
If you don't know where QWERTY stops and ends, the answer is very simple. Just look for the letters QWERTY and the numbers 1 through 9. That's the QWERTY system, if you also add in a few miscellaneous punctuation marks, the TAB key, the backspace key, the ENTER key, and the spacebar.
It is convention to put control keys outside the QWERTY area. This means you don't have to hunt all over the keyboard to find them.
The QWERTY system was developed for manual typewriters, long before computer keyboards were even thought. So you can think of QWERTY as what is needed to type a letter onto paper. The TAB key is a carryover from the paper days, when people indented paragraphs.
Computer keyboards added control keys, provided arrows (left, right, up, down), gave the backspace key the ability to delete, and added the 10-key pad. Most virtual keyboards will give you a 10-key pad (of sorts), and that's what the "123" key is for.
Making the most of it
People sometimes panic when they can't do something on a device, and assume the device is faulty. In nearly every case, the solution is very simple. To find the solution, follow this three-step process:
Remember, a virtual keyboard has many capabilities crammed into a small space. So things aren't going to jump out at you. With just a little effort, however, they are quite easy to find.
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