Is there a program or utility that allows me to connect a touchscreen to my desktop PC and use it as a keyboard input device? My plan is to upgrade the screen on my laptop, pair the old screen with a touchscreen overlay and an inverter, connect it as another monitor to my desktop, and then lay it flat on my desk and use it for a keyboard.

I know that devices like the iPad have a virtual keyboard that is used to type on-screen, and my plan is to have a virtual keyboard like this running on the touchscreen all the time.

P.S. If there were any way to also use a portion of the touchscreen as a laptop-style touchpad, this would be very nice also. Thanks!

  • 1
    For keyboard, (if you are using Windows), how about On Screen Keyboard included with the OS? There are others for other OSes, too.
    – Bob
    Apr 26, 2012 at 2:58
  • Thanks! I could also set the application to run automatically on startup, so that I would not have to start it manually each time.
    – Drakel
    Apr 26, 2012 at 3:23
  • I'm assuming you've got the hardware for connecting the bare screen to a computer - that is the controller board and PSU sorted out?
    – Journeyman Geek
    Apr 26, 2012 at 5:14
  • @JourneymanGeek: I am going to try one of these devices: ebay.com/sch/…
    – Drakel
    Apr 26, 2012 at 19:27
  • @Bob: Would you mind posting your comment as an answer? Thanks!
    – Drakel
    Apr 27, 2012 at 17:39

3 Answers 3


There are many Virtual Keyboards you could use for this purpose.

Some options:

  • Windows has a built-in one called On Screen Keyboard.

  • Mac OS X can use a Dashboard widget. There may be a built-in one, but I'm unaware of it.

  • Linux in general has many different programs, typically matching their desktop environments and often included as part of the distribution. A popular one for GNOME is Florence.

  • Ubuntu, at least several versions ago, came with one called onboard

There is a (proposed) program called Virtual Touchpad that, funnily enough, allows you to use a virtual touchpad. Unfortunately, it looks like an abandoned project with no real work done. There is no shortage of phone or tablet applications that provide similar functionality, however, as Lèse majesté points out.

The problem with trying to find such a program (aside from the utter rubbish that Google comes up with when searching for this) is most people tend to use a touchscreen directly, not with an indirect virtual touchpad. Of course, if you could get your OS to recognise your screen overlay as a tablet, that may help. It would probably make virtual keyboard use more difficult, however. (By tablet I mean the input device, not the underpowered computers/oversized phones.)


Bob's suggestion is probably best for keyboard, but if you want to use an Android touchscreen device as a mouse, you can use RemoteDroid or premotedroid. Each requires a server app you run on your computer as well as the Android app client that you run on your phone/tablet.

As I understand it, you can only use the touchscreen as a laptop-style touchpad, not as an actual tablet device (i.e. you can't map the device to an area of the screen and draw on the tablet like a digitizer tablet), but you can at least use it as a mouse substitute.

  • majeste: Thanks for your suggestions! I will not be using an android device, but instead a touchscreen connected directly to the computer. However, I might be able to use one of these android apps by using Parallels to virtualize android on my PC, and then assign the touchscreen to the virtualized android OS. This would be a rather roundabout method though; I would prefer to do it using only the Windows 7 OS.
    – Drakel
    Apr 26, 2012 at 19:34
  • @Drakel: Ah, I wasn't sure if you meant an actual touchscreen or a phone/tablet with a touchscreen. Yea, if you have an actual touchscreen, then this would be too much effort for too little payoff. Apr 26, 2012 at 20:14
  • 1
    majeste: After having totaled up the cost of all the individual components of my proposed build, I think that I will actually just get an android tablet and use one of the apps that you mentioned to control my computer. This would not cost much more, and then I could use the tablet in its own right also. Thanks again for your suggestions!
    – Drakel
    Apr 27, 2012 at 17:42

Use android-vnc-viewer to mirror the desktop PC screen, and control the desktop

I had another question on android.stackexchange.com: (In using a VNC to control a computer, is it possible to have the cursor go to where you touch?)

In the question, I included a video: Remote control of Ubuntu with android-vnc-viewer


“See and control your computer's desktop from your phone, from anywhere. androidVNC is the Open Source (GPL) remote desktop program for Android devices. Connects to most VNC servers: incl TightVNC, RealVNC on Win and Linux, x11vnc, and Apple Remote Desktop on OS/X.”.

In the video, I don't know the input mode that is being demonstrated at 0:30, but it looks like the mouse cursor goes to where he touches.


I'm guessing that the input mode in the video was either:

Touch Mouse Pan and Zoom
This is the default input mode and is designed to work like the Android browser. You can both pan the display and control the mouse using the touchscreen and gestures. You pan by dragging or flicking on the touchscreen; you click the mouse by tapping on it. You right-click by double-tapping (or by holding down the camera button while tapping). You drag the mouse by doing a long press on the display, and then dragging. In this mode the trackball or DPad (if your phone has one) can also be used to control the mouse; this may give you finer control. You can zoom the screen size with the +/- buttons, or, if your device supports multi-touch and has Android 2.0+, you can pinch to zoom out and spread to zoom in.


Mouse Control Mode
In this mode, use the touchscreen to control the mouse. Touching the screen generates a mouse click at that point; dragging on the screen creates a mouse drag. Keyboard events are sent as normal. The trackball is used to send arrow-key events to the VNC server. Pressing the trackball toggles between Mouse Pointer Control and Desktop Panning modes.

Port forwarding

If the PC you're connecting to accesses the internet through a router, this will be the WAN address assigned to the router by your ISP; you'll also need to forward the VNC port (5900) from the router to your PC (exactly how you do this depends on the details of your router, so I can't give more explicit instructions here).

Hacker's Keyboard - use a full soft keyboard on Android

From what I've read, the stock android keyboard doesn't have buttons such as Ctrl, Alt, Esc, arrow keys, Home, End, and Delete.

You can use the free, open source, app call Hacker's Keyboard to gain access to the buttons of a full keyboard:

“Are you missing the key layout you're used to from your computer? This keyboard has separate number keys, punctuation in the usual places, and arrow keys. It is based on the AOSP Gingerbread soft keyboard, so it supports multitouch for the modifier keys.

This keyboard is especially useful if you use ConnectBot for SSH access. It provides working Tab/Ctrl/Esc keys, and the arrow keys are essential for devices such as the Xoom tablet or Nexus S that don't have a trackball or D-Pad.”


A patch that allows android-vnc-viewer to recognize all the keys of Hacker's Keyboard

In “Frequently Asked Questions” of Hacker's Keyboard, there's a section called “Android VNC Viewer doesn't recognize the extra keys”.

It directs you to an issue called “Issue 238: Support additional keys, fix modifier handling”. The patch there will make it so that Android VNC Viewer recognizes buttons of a full keyboard.

Update: bVNC

bVNC is a secure, open source VNC client.

  • Tested with Hackerskeyboard. Using it is recommended (get hackers keyboard from Google Play).


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