Applies to

Surface RT, Surface Pro, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1.


The on-screen keyboard doesn’t appear


The on-screen keyboard is designed to appear when the Touch or Type Cover is folded back or detached all together. If the on-screen keyboard doesn’t appear when you tap the screen where you want to type, try the solutions below.

Things to try first

  • If you’re using a Touch Cover or Type Cover, fold it back or detach it from your Surface.
  • Make sure the touch-screen responds to touch. If not, see Touch-screen stops responding.
  • If you’re using desktop apps, like Microsoft Word or Excel, or Windows features like Control Panel or File Explorer, the on-screen keyboard does appear automatically even when the cover is folded back or removed.
  • To bring up the on-screen keyboard from the desktop, tap or click the keyboard icon.
    Desktop on-screen keyboard icon
  • If you’re using the Start screen or a Windows Store app, here’s how to bring up the on-screen keyboard:
    1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then open the Search charm. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
    2. Tap the text box to bring up the on-screen keyboard.

Solution 1: Install the latest updates

Make sure Surface is up to date. Install updates, including those for Windows, as this may fix an issue with the on-screen keyboard. See Install Surface updates.

If installing all available updates doesn’t solve the problem, continue to the next solution.

Solution 2: Restart Surface

Try restarting Surface.

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, tap Power, and then tap Restart.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, then click Power, and then Restart.)

If restarting your Surface doesn’t solve the problem, continue to the next solution.

Solution 3: Restore Surface Pro to an earlier state

If you think an app or driver that you recently installed caused problems with your Surface Pro, you can restore it back to an earlier point in time, called a restore point. System Restore doesn’t change your personal files, but it might remove recently installed apps and drivers.

Surface RT: System Restore isn't available for Windows RT.

Surface Pro: Make sure you have access to product keys and installation files for all desktop apps (for example, Microsoft Office) that may have been installed after the point in time you’re restoring to.

To restore your Surface using System Restore:

  1. Make sure you have access to product keys and/or installation media for all desktop apps you want to reinstall.
  2. From the Start screen, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then open the Search charm. (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.)
  3. In the search box, enter Recovery.
  4. Tap or click Settings, and then tap or click Recovery.
  5. Tap or click Open System Restore and follow the prompts.

If restoring your Surface Pro doesn’t solve the problem, continue to the next solution.

Solution 4: Refresh your Surface

Refreshing your Surface reinstalls Windows while keeping your personal files, settings and any apps that came with your Surface or that you’ve installed from the Windows Store.

Surface Pro: You’ll need to re-installation desktop apps from the websites or from the discs that you used to install those apps on your Surface. Before you refresh Surface, make sure you have access to product keys and installation files desktop apps that you want to reinstall (for example, Microsoft Office.)

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
  2. Tap or click General.
  3. Under Refresh your PC without affecting your files, tap or click Get started.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions.

If these steps don’t solve the problem with the on-screen keyboard, your Surface needs service. Go to Get my Surface fixed.