How would one go about customising the on-screen keyboard on a Microsoft Surface Pro? I've noticed that it doesn't have an alt or Esc key and I can't think of any good reason why those keys, among others, should not be there. In particular I want to use keys such as [ and ]. Also there are no up and down arrow keys.

I already have a type cover but sometimes I'd like to use those keys without having the type cover attached.

Ideally I'd like a way to enable those missing keys and perhaps to remove the ones that I don't want, such as the emoticon key.


Windows 8 has several different views of the keyboard. Sounds like you just need to change to a different one. Here's the MS site for touch keyboards that I'll be explaining about.

In the bottom-right corner of the standard OSK (on-screen keyboard), there is an icon that looks like a keyboard for changing the style of keyboard. Notice the slightly different icon in the bottom-right corner of the second example OSK enter image description here.

(My apologies if MS decides to change the link locations.)

  • "(My apologies if MS decides to change the link locations.)" -- looks like it's happened :-) – CJBS Dec 31 '19 at 18:10

Although this doesn't answer the question specifically, it addresses the issue the OP is unable to use some of the standard keys present in the physical keyboard but missing in the Windows 8 standard onscreen keyboard.

Answer is reported at http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfpro-surfhardware/key-board-has-no-up-or-down-arrow/bf67308d-69c8-4afb-84bb-353ea2a88ba6:

"open pc settings in the settings charm select general scroll to touch keyboard enable "make the standard keyboard (...)"

When you invoke the onscreen keyboard options in the system bar, you will have a fourth layout available to you which presents all the keys found on the physical keyboard.


1.Go to your home screen

2.Open the Charms Menu, Tap “Settings”, choose “Change PC Settings”

3.Scroll down to “Ease of Access” and you’ll notice an option that says “Pressing Windows + Volume Up will turn on”

4.From the drop down menu select “On-Screen Keyboard”.

5.Now try enabling it by pressing the capacitive Windows Button on your Surface and the Physical Volume Up Key on the left side of your device at the same time.


  • That's the type of keyboard that I need. But it's not quite what I'm after though. In the taskbar there's a small keyboard icon that when pressed causes a keyboard to appear at the bottom of the screen, I want to get the more fully featured keyboard to appear instead of the gimped version, is there a way to do that? – user273580 Jun 29 '13 at 15:04
  • I'll look into it more, not that experienced with tablets/windows 8. – user88311 Jun 29 '13 at 15:08

You can use the old OSK with winkey+r for run and "osk" - it's different from the "TK" keyboard


Windows 10 -- If, like me, you landed here looking for info on W10 (yes, I know the query was W8, but 1/ this may also apply to w8, and 2/ google brought me here and not to Emulate Windows key on Windows 10 touch keyboard or Windows-10 tablet onscreen keyboard arrows for example), and cannot access any different "style of keyboard" (Dotcommie's answer), that's because you need to go to Settings, search Typing, and turn on "Add the standard keyboard layout..".

Then, just click the keyboard icon (on the bottom-right corner of the taskbar keyboard) to change style of keyboard to the fuller one.

  • Please don't post an answer to confirm that another answer worked. The site's Q&A format reserves answers for solutions to the question, and each answer should contribute another solution. The way to indicate that an answer was useful is to invest a little time in the site and you will gain sufficient privileges to upvote answers you like. With a little more rep, you will also be abler to post a comment that a solution also works for another version of the OS. – fixer1234 May 26 '16 at 15:29
  • @user1863152 This appears to be commentary indicating you also have the problem. Please edit your answer, to include the solutation you recomend the author take, to resolve the problem. – Ramhound Nov 1 '16 at 15:54

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