How to use your keyboard while wearing a VR headset

Putting on a PC-based VR headset, whether it's HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality (WMR), or Oculus Rift, means you're losing sight of what's physically around you. While a majority of VR experiences can be enjoyed with specialized motion controllers, there are others — like most that let you use your desktop in VR — that are best used in tandem with a classic keyboard and mouse. The mouse is a no-brainer, but what about typing on your keyboard? There are a few tricks you can try to get comfortable typing without being able to see your hands.

Get into a routine

Not only should you be using a keyboard that you're well familiarized with — dimensions, key sizes, and layout — you should try to always keep it in the same spot or at a similar distance in relation to something else. Once you get into the flow of things, it will become natural to just reach out and start typing.

If the VR experience you're enjoying isn't extra complicated, you'll probably be able to get by using the WASD keys with a Shift and Spacebar tossed into the mix. It's not too tough to reach out and find these, but if you're sitting down to write a lengthy piece while using a VR desktop app, touch typing will come into play.

Learn touch typing

Being able to type quickly is one thing, but can you do it without looking down at your keyboard? To be considered a touch typist, one must be able to type at a certain speed without taking eyes off of the screen. Sounds like it's perfectly suited for VR, doesn't it?

If you're going to be spending a lot of time in VR while using a keyboard and mouse, it will be worth the time to put yourself through some touch typing lessons. A quick search in your favorite engine will bring up plenty of free options to get started.

See touch typing lessons

Add small bump stickers to your keys

If the keyboard you're using doesn't have well-defined breaks between areas — number pad, arrow keys, locks, and main QWERTY — you could add some cues to your keys in the form of small bump stickers.

They might make your keyboard look a bit strange, but placing stickers on even three or four keys will tell your fingers where to go even when you can't see. A 106-count pack of small, clear bump stickers costs about $10 (opens in new tab) and comes in a variety of shapes to further help with laying things out.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Check out Keybodo

Keybodo mockup Q

Mockup image of the letter Q.

Keybodo understands how difficult it is to learn touch typing or to type without any sight at all, which is why they make these character recognition stickers that are removable and reusable.

A set of stickers comes with all the keys you'll need, and they fit pretty much any standard keyboard key, no matter the make or model. A set costs about $10.

See at Keybodo

If you're using an HTC Vive with a Mac, chances are you're also using the standard Mac keyboard. If so, you might want to invest in the full rubber cover that has raised letters.

Not only should it improve your typing accuracy over time, it also provides you with an idea of which keys are where when you don't have a line of sight. Best part? It only costs about $12 (opens in new tab).

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Wait patiently for Logitech's VR keyboard

Introduced on the Vive blog (opens in new tab) November 2017, Logitech's BRIDGE keyboard aims to bring a physical keyboard into the virtual world. At first glance, it looks like it could be any other gaming keyboard, but the magic lies in a link with the Vive Tracker.

As long as the Tracker is working with a Vive lighthouse, it will be able to pull a virtual representation of the BRIDGE keyboard into VR. The coolest part is that there are expected to be a bunch of different skins based on the VR experience you're enjoying. The keyboard is still in testing with no concrete release date, and only a few lucky developers have received them so far. But we can wait…

See the Logitech BRIDGE blog post at Vive (opens in new tab)

More resources

For much more information about the HTC Vive, be sure to check out our ultimate guide!

HTC Vive ultimate guide

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Mobile Nations. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

  • You missed the best option: OVRdrop and a webcam. Even the Logitech keyboard won’t show you your fingers.
  • Touch Typing is the best solution. Not only for VR, but it will help you when typing in any situation. Once you can touch type, you'll notice the "F" key and the "J" key have a little bit sticking out on the key that you can feel. You use that to readjust yourself if you're not sure where your fingers are on the keyboard.
  • You have to find the keyboard first - not always trivial with a roomscale setup.