My question is the exact inverse of this question.

Motivating use-case. I've paired and am using my Bluetooth apple keyboard. Just happy. I'm running ICS, on an HTC- Evo 4G LTE. Then, 7-8 mins later (timeout not yet engaged by default of course), I'm downstairs, and a call comes in. I need to type 2-3 letters to look up something (an email address, etc). and huh?!

How the heck do I in the moment on-the-call type?

At that moment don't remember where I exactly left that apple keyboard (which I could go back to power off, and only then get a keyboard to show) Or if I turn off Bluetooth entirely: 'Fail' as that often means I can't then continue to use the darn headset I've got on, or if driving, I'd be illegal (in CA need to have a headset).

If I unpair, seems to get that keyboard (the external Bluetooth apple one) working, I have to re-pair (which, in reality, is really futzy annoying, compared to, e.g. if ignored and the time-out engages, when I then, say a day, or two later, type on that apple keyboard it works instantly instead? not paired).

Regarding the app: "null keyboard" I tried it, and close, but no cigar, meaning: when I'm in a 'text field', in the notifications list, there will appear an 'input method notification' clicking on that and you get a list, and while that list should include something that offers a 'show on-screen keyboard' override, it does not.

The closest thing I've been able to find is developer-centric code examples showing an (apparent) workaround to force this.. but seems to be no app ( yet?!?) that exposes that functionality into the 'inputs methods' drop-down menu. Example.

Update: it looks like Tomas's answer is 'the answer', though I'm currently unable to test to be sure. This does strongly suggest that there is no answer available without a rooted phone.

  • 1
    I don't have a bluetooth keyboard, but I have had times when I wanted to force the onscreen keyboard to show up. Have you tried holding down the 'Menu' button? When I do that, the keyboard pops up even when no text field is selected. In the same way, it can be used to force the keyboard to hide when in a text field.
    – Stephen S
    Nov 30, 2012 at 14:25
  • certainly, as far as I can tell, with a bluetooth keyboard paired, it does seem to override/prevent that from working
    – Matt S.
    Apr 6, 2013 at 21:26
  • I'm afraid I don't have an answer, but I can see the code example you link to isn't what you're looking for. It's for enabling the keyboard in general, not for overriding how the keyboard displays when a Bluetooth keyboard is connected.
    – Dan Hulme
    May 7, 2013 at 10:41

3 Answers 3


You can use Secure Settings Hardware Keyboard Action to toggle the hardware keyboard. Interestingly, you can still use the hardware keyboard, but the on-screen keyboard still appears.

This is especially useful when you connect a mouse (and no keyboard) and it causes the keyboard to go into hardware keyboard mode.

The simplest way to do this is to create a shortcut on your homescreen. Select the Secure Settings shortcut/widget. Then it will prompt you to select the action. Select Actions > Hardware Keyboard. Then it brings you to a screen with three options: On, Off, Toggle.

On means you go into hardware keyboard mode and no on-screen keyboard will appear. Note, this only works if you actually have physical keyboard connected. It will simply give you an error toast if you don't.

Off means turn off hardware keyboard mode, and an on-screen keyboard will appear when you select text boxes.

Toggle means it will switch from whichever hardware keyboard mode it's currently on.

There are other ways to hook up to Secure Settings Hardware Keyboard Action, which you can learn about in the documentation, and using your imagination and research.

  • @Izzy Secure Settings is an app for rooted devices. You can find it on the play store. Sep 14, 2015 at 15:06
  • I know that – the OP might not. We prefer "complete" answers instead of "look-there-and search". Even with the app found: How to do that? Haven't you forgotten it requires Tasker, and a word on the budget? Tasker = USD 5
    – Izzy
    Sep 14, 2015 at 16:42
  • @Tomas - thank you for the answer. It's a bit hard for me to test - my phone isn't rooted (fixable), and my bluetooth stopped working (not clearly fixable). At some point I'll be able to remedy that (new phone) and test this. Until then, I'll update my question to point to your answer
    – Matt S.
    Sep 14, 2015 at 20:42

If you are using a custom ROM, such as Cyanogenmod, you can 'wire' hardware keys to certain function.

One thing you can do, is set it up so that a long press on the menu button will show the soft keyboard.

If not, then there is no way to do this, although in theory an app could be produced that would place a notification in the taskbar when enabled and bring up the soft keyboard when clicked! I am now off to make this app.

  • hey Liam -- if you build it, I will use it! As I'm typing this 4 months-ish after your post-- anything avail I can try? (and FYI - last I looked, bluetooth keyboards on iOS seemed too to have this 'problem' [Google having 'copied' the UI elements of Apple's implementation, flaws and all, into Android, it would seem ] )
    – Matt S.
    Apr 6, 2013 at 21:29

Buzz launcher, as well as other launchers, I imagine, allows you to program gestures to preform certain actions. The issue though is that that gesture will only perform that action from the home screen if you use Buzz launcher gestures... The good thing though is you don't have to root to do it. In addition, of course, if you root the phone you can assign gestures more freely and make them universal so that the gesture performs the action from any app, not just the home screen.

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