If you ever had to work on a PC in a foreign country that is not your own, you may have noticed that the keyboard layout is not identical to keyboards that you are used to working with. This can be resolved rather quickly if you have enough rights on the PC to change the keyboard layout. If you cannot, you are stuck with the default layout that may not provide access to all the keys that you require for your work. And while you can use Alt-Num codes to print the keys you need on the screen, it is something that slows down the work flow considerable.
Google Input Tools for the Chrome web browser offer an alternative for users of the Internet browser. The extension provides access to more than 90 different onscreen keyboards right in the browser.
Chrome users who have installed the extension need to first add languages that they want access to in the extension options. This is done with a right-click on the extension icon in the Chrome address bar, and the selection of the options entry in the context menu.
Just select a language first and then one of the available keyboard layouts for that language. A double-click adds the selected keyboard layout to the available keyboard schemes.
Once done, you can display onscreen keyboard with a left-click on the extension icon and the selection of one of the languages that you have added in the configuration phase.
The onscreen keyboard behaves exactly like it would on the normal computer. You can tap or click on a key to input it into a form on the website, or use the hardware keyboard to type normally. The keyboard layout is automatically switched to the selected onscreen keyboard.
You can switch instantly between keyboard layouts. Just click on the extension icon again and select a different layout to have it displayed directly in the lower right corner of the screen.
Keys that you type in on the connected keyboard are visualized on the onscreen keyboard as well.
You can disable the keyboard on the page by selecting the turn off option in the extension's context menu.
Chrome users who need to input keys from different keyboard layouts can benefit from the extension. Most users however may prefer to install a program instead that offers global access to multiple keyboard layouts so that the layouts are also available in other programs that they use.
The onscreen keyboard is not working on all sites right now. Google's own Docs service for instance is not compatible with the extension. Users may also notice that some keys may not be interpreted correctly.
Google Chrome users can download and install Google Input Tools from the official Chrome web store.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.