Guide to Using a Software Keyboard in Windows Mobile

There are considerable benefits in using a software keyboard on your Windows Mobile phone – but it can be troublesome to find the right keyboard and difficult to set it up without the right tools.

Windows Mobile native software input

Windows Mobile comes with a number of onscreen input options.  Various stylus methods are provided such as Block Recogniser and Letter Recogniser which both involve scrawling the stylus within a specified area of the screen, as well as Symbol Pad and Transcriber. Each of these methods has its own peculiarities for attaining a reasonable success rate of conversion from the input squiggle into a legible sentence

Finally there’s the poorly designed micro keyboard designed for Windows CE and the larger display handheld devices from companies such as HP that when resized for a typical Windows Mobile smartphone screen are almost as difficult to use with the stylus as without!

Thankfully there are alternatives to this input method. If you’re looking for direct onscreen software keyboard access to services such as Twitter or text messaging – situations when it would be quicker to use a more accessible input device than the slide-out hardware keyboard, then there are plenty of alternatives. These can either be downloaded free or purchased and then setup on your Windows Mobile device as the default software keyboard.

List of software keyboards

A wide selection of soft keyboards are available for Windows Mobile devices, offering is a good range of features such as haptic feedback, an iPhone-like pop-up for each key pressed and various shortcuts such as copy and paste, access to all standard keyboard characters and compatibility with multiple screen rotations and resolutions.

(Note the last 5 keyboards are all available via www.freewarepocketpc.net)

Each of these keyboards comes as a CAB file which can be downloaded directly to your Windows Mobile device or to your PC for transfer later.

Once installed, a software keyboard can be selected and used as simply as the other software input methods – however this might not be 100% to your liking.

Thankfully, this can be changed thanks to a very useful tool called SIPChange.

Using SIPChange

Windows Mobile comes with a standard SIP (Soft Input Panel) that allows selection between the supplied soft keyboard and the various stylus unput methods. However it isn’t keen on allowing the permanent selection of additional soft keyboards, which is where SIPChange comes in.

SIPChange active and displaying FingerKeyboard 2

Available from xda-developers.com, SIPChange can easily be installed onto your Windows Mobile device and takes control of the management of your software input method. With it you can install and select from multiple soft keyboards, and the one selected as the default choice remains the default.

It doesn’t sound much but it saves a lot of messing about when tapping out text messages or Twitter updates to have the right keyboard there ready and waiting without having to reselect it every time.