I use a Bluetooth keyboard with a variety of Android devices. Most versions of Android (below 4.2.2) when the external keyboard is connected the on-screen keyboard is still available.

When I pair the Bluetooth keyboard to a Nexus 7 running Android 4.2.2 the on screen keyboard is disabled. I cannot find a way to enable the on-screen keyboard from the tablet.

Some Bluetooth keyboards include an 'eject' button which toggles the on-screen keyboard. I'm concerned about the times that I'm far enough from the Bluetooth keyboard that I can't reach it but still within Bluetooth range and I can't type on the screen.

Is there a way on an Android 4.2.2 (or higher) device to enable the on-screen keyboard while a Bluetooth keyboard is connected?

  • Just a suggestion if you don't get it figured out right away, you could always have a Bluetooth widget on your homescreen so you can toggle Bluetooth quickly. – John Aug 29 '13 at 14:39
  • I'm also intresting in this question. How to always show the onscreen keyboard when a bluetooth device is connected ? Because on my droid, it will automaticly off when a bluetooth keyboard is installed... My droid is run with kitkat 4.4 – Sidhi Ciang Nov 25 '15 at 13:00
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I was testing ways to toggle the on-screen keyboard. In Android 4.2.2 on a Nexus 7 I had to go through the following steps to toggle the on-screen keyboard from the tablet while a Bluetooth keyboard is connected:

  1. To activate the "Choose Input Method" notification you need to have multiple keyboards available. On a stock Nexus 7 you can go into Settings then "Language and Input". Under "Keyboard & Input Methods" check the box next to another keyboard like the "iWnn IME Emoji input" or "Google Pinyin Input".
  2. (Optional) If you don't have any other keyboards available you can install a 3rd party keyboard from the Play Store like the NullKeyboard or AnySoftKeyboard. Back in the Language and Input Settings check the checkbox next to the 3rd party keyboard you installed. Read the warning message and click OK if you agree.
  3. Go to any text input box
  4. A new notification appears in your notification bar (top left) labeled "Choose Input Method", tap the notification (not Select Keyboard Layout)
  5. The first item in the "Choose Input Method" popup is "Hardware" with an on/off slider, choose "Off"
  6. Use the radio buttons below to choose your software keyboard (I chose the Google Keyboard)
  7. Tap the back button and the on-screen keyboard appears.
  8. The Bluetooth keyboard is still functional.
  • On Nougat, in Keyboard & Input Method, choose your external keyboard, there will be parameter like 'Show virtual keyboard', just check on it. Now when you tap on any EditText, virtual keyboard will displayed, and external input still functional. – adadion Aug 31 '17 at 13:44

I am using Android 4.3 on a Nexus 7. I was able to configure android to use both keyboards (screen and bluetooth) simultaneously.

With the bluetooth keyboard setup and enabled..

Go into your Settings then select "Language and input". Click on "Default" located just under the "Keyboard and input methods" heading to open the "Choose input method" dialog. Turn the "Hardware physical keyboard" off.

In Android 5.1 it's slightly different: from "Keyboard and input methods", click "Current keyboard" and then there's a toggle labelled "Hardware". Turn that off. (Spotted by Emre.)

That's it!

The bluetooth keyboard doesn't show up in the language and input screen anymore but I am still able to use it. In addition, the onscreen keyboard is enabled again.

  • This is the best answer, but it was slightly different in mine (Android M). Click on the item under "Keyboard&Input Methods" and toggle on Hardware. – Emre Apr 2 '16 at 14:00

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.

  • Umm – and seeing this answer for the 3rd time now from you: Are you somehow associated to that? Full disclosure then, please :) – Izzy Sep 13 '15 at 20:12
  • @Izzy Nope, just another android enthusiast. I just like answering all the questions I found on the net when I figure out an answer. Especially on stackexchange where I get points for it. – Tomas Ramirez Sep 14 '15 at 15:08
  • @Firelord Sorry, I thought it was bad to provide links, because that's like advertising. You usually get flagged for it on forums, especially when you're new like I am. – Tomas Ramirez Sep 14 '15 at 15:09
  • OK then. But as for the other (same) answers: Could you include a short how-to, fill the gaps (Tasker), and name the budget? You can always edit your posts to improve them, and points are given for answers that can be implemented :) – Izzy Sep 14 '15 at 16:44
  • Cool! You made amendment in the answer. You can consider the formatting guide here: android.stackexchange.com/editing-help It can prove to be helpful in arranging the parts of your answer (future ones) for better readability . – Firelord Sep 15 '15 at 8:13

I use Android 5.1. Connect the blue tooth device. Open "Language and Input", click "Current keyboard". Turn the Hardware on. It worked for me.

On an LG G5 I figured it out turn on your Bluetooth when you hear it connect swipe down and from the top of the screen to see all active connections and programs touch on the Bluetooth that is connected it gives a secondary option for view on-screen keyboard with Bluetooth keyboard connected

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