Using the Steam Deck Keyboard in Desktop Mode

In this quick guide, we will be showing you how you can use the Steam Deck keyboard while in desktop mode.

Steam Deck Desktop Mode Keyboard

While in gaming mode on your Steam Deck, you will find that any text box opens up an easy-to-use keyboard. This keyboard has been designed with the Steam Decks input in mind. To type, you can use the touch screen, joysticks, D-PAD or touchpads.

The Steam Deck keyboard doesn’t open the same way when you move to the desktop mode. If you tap or click into a text box, you will find that nothing happens at all. Part of the reason for this is that it is hard for the Steam Deck to know when there is a textbox within a separate application.

This can be a troubling experience for new users as no prompts indicate how you bring up the keyboard.

The following section will show you how to open the virtual keyboard on your Steam Deck while in desktop mode.

Opening the Virtual Keyboard in Desktop Mode on the Steam Deck

Before we get started, you must ensure that the Steam desktop application is open. If it is not open, you cannot open the virtual keyboard. This is because the Steam desktop app handles both the keyboard and the shortcut for opening it.

If you have closed out of Steam, you can easily open it by double-tapping the “Steam” icon on your desktop.

1. With that out of the way, all you need to do to open the keyboard on your Steam Deck while in desktop mode is to press the X button. This shortcut can be used from anywhere while you are in desktop mode.

Some games and applications can cause the on-screen keyboard to become unresponsive. Typically, you can solve this issue by pressing the STEAM and X buttons at the same time.

If you are unsure of what buttons we are talking about, please look at the photo below, where we have highlighted both the STEAM and X buttons.

Steam Deck Desktop Mode Keyboard Shortcut Buttons

2. After pressing these two buttons, you should now have full access to the virtual keyboard. You can now type using the trackpad, joystick, D-PAD, or touch screen.

Virtual Keyboard Opened

3. You can close out of the Steam Deck’s virtual keyboard while in desktop mode by pressing the B or STEAM buttons on your device.

Close Keyboard with B or STEAM buttons

You can also tap/select the “MOVE” button located at the bottom right corner of the virtual keyboard.

Close Steam Deck Keyboard on Desktop Mode with the Move button

Troubleshooting issues with the Steam Deck Keyboard

The most common reason the shortcut for opening the keyboard on your Steam Deck doesn’t work is that the Steam application has been closed.

The Steam client handles displaying the keyboard and also listens for when the STEAM and X buttons have been pressed.

The easiest way to verify if Steam is running is to check for the little Steam icon in the bottom right of your taskbar. We have highlighted this in the screenshot below so you know where to look.

Verify Steam is open

If the icon is missing, try re-opening the Steam client again and then test the keyboard shortcut. You can re-open Steam by double-tapping the “Steam” desktop icon.


Hopefully, this quick guide has been helpful to you, and you now know how to open the virtual keyboard on your Steam Deck while in desktop mode.

The shortcut for opening the keyboard is one that you will have to use quite often while utilizing the desktop mode.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you are having any issues with getting the keyboard to appear on your device.

We have several other Steam Deck guides that are worth checking out. These guides showcase how to set up your device for your needs.

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