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How to use the keyboard on the Steam Deck

There's no dedicated keyboard or keyboard button, so how do you do it?
By

Published onJuly 19, 2023

The Steam Deck is a pocket computer wrapped in a portable gaming console’s body. It is more versatile than the Nintendo Switch, and has the functionality you’d expect from a small PC, including keyboard and mouse support. If you’re struggling to access the Steam Deck keyboard, here’s how to connect it to physical peripherals or bring up the virtual on-screen keyboard.

QUICK ANSWER

The Steam Deck keyboard can be accessed by pressing the STEAM and X buttons simultaneously. Alternatively, the Steam Deck supports external peripherals via Bluetooth or USB-C.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to open the Steam Deck desktop mode keyboard

Steam Deck buttons

The Steam Deck lacks a physical keyboard, so inputting text requires an on-screen virtual keyboard. Valve has integrated a nifty Steam Deck keyboard shortcut to make it easier for users to activate it when required. Pressing the STEAM and X buttons simultaneously will summon the keyboard. The STEAM button can be found beneath the left-hand side touchpad, while the X button sits to the right of the right-hand side analog stick.

It’s worth noting that the virtual on-screen keyboard can be used throughout the system, whether you install Google Chrome for browsing web pages or using a terminal within the OS. Notably, you can also close the Steam Deck virtual keyboard by using the same button shortcut.

Valve notes that this feature is still improving, so expect future changes and refinements to the on-screen keyboard’s functionality.

How to open the keyboard in SteamOS

While the Steam Deck is a mini-computer in its own right, it’s a gaming console first and foremost. This means Valve made it easier to trigger the keyboard within SteamOS.

The virtual keyboard will automatically appear when interacting with a text field within SteamOS. This means you don’t need to use the key combination to bring it up. Instead, tapping a chat reply field or a search bar will automatically produce the keyboard.

Can the Steam Deck use a physical keyboard and mouse?

Valve lets users connect a physical keyboard and mouse to the Steam Deck. Users can use Bluetooth for supported peripherals, connect a USB-C hub to plug in wired peripherals or use a Steam Deck dock.

The Steam Deck transforms into a makeshift gaming console by connecting a keyboard, mouse, and external display.