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How to Use the Onscreen Keyboard on the Nexus 7 Tablet

When it comes time to create text on the Nexus 7 tablet, you see the onscreen keyboard pop into view, right at the bottom of the screen. The onscreen keyboard appears whenever the tablet demands text input or when you have an opportunity to type something.

You’ll be relieved to see that the basic onscreen keyboard is similar to the standard computer keyboard, though some of its keys change their function depending on what you’re typing.

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This is the onscreen keyboard in Alphabetic mode. You see keys from A through Z. The Shift keys are used for producing capital letters and accessing the symbols that microscopically appear on certain keys, just as on a computer keyboard. You can also use the Delete key, which works to backspace and erase.

The Enter key, below the Delete key, changes its look depending on what you’re typing. Here’s what each one does:

Enter/Return: Just like the Enter or Return key on your computer keyboard, this key ends a paragraph of text. It’s used mostly when you’re filling in long stretches of text or when multiline input is available.
Go: This action key directs the app to proceed with a search, accept input, or perform another action.
Search: You see the Search key appear whenever you’re searching for something on the tablet. Touching the key starts the search.
Next: This key appears whenever you’re typing information into multiple fields. Touching this key switches from one field to the next, such as when you’re typing a username and password.
Done: This key appears whenever you’ve finished typing text in the final field of a screen that has several fields. Sometimes it dismisses the onscreen keyboard, sometimes not.

A Prev (for previous) key sometimes appears when you long-press the Next or Done keys. That key switches you back to the previous text input field.

The large key at the bottom center of the onscreen keyboard is the Space key. The keys to the left and right of the Space key may change, depending on what type of input is required. For example, the Smiley key turns into the .com key when you type e-mail or web page addresses. The colon key may also appear at that spot.

You use the Microphone key for dictation. This key may change to the Settings key, which is used to adjust the onscreen keyboard.

  • If you pine for a real keyboard, one that exists in the fourth dimension, you’re not stuck. See the nearby sidebar, “A real keyboard!”

  • To dismiss the onscreen keyboard, touch the Back navigation icon. This icon changes its appearance, shown in the margin, when the onscreen keyboard is visible.

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  • To re-summon the keyboard, touch any text field or spot on the screen where typing is permitted.

  • To set the Shift Lock (also known as Caps Lock), double-tap either Shift key. A blue bar appears on the Shift key whenever Shift Lock is active.

  • The Microphone key appears only when dictation is allowed.

  • Also, the Microphone key may not appear unless you’ve enabled voice input.

  • Some keys (such as Microphone, Done, and .com) sport three tiny dots. These dots indicate that the key can be long-pressed to display a pop-up palette of additional characters or options. Drag your finger (don’t lift it from the screen) to choose another key or option.

  • Long-pressing the Microphone key displays the Settings key.

  • The keyboard reorients itself whenever you turn the tablet to a horizontal position. You may find typing easier in that orientation.

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