Using the Steam Deck Keyboard in Desktop Mode

steam deck keyboard on desktop mode

When you are operating in gaming mode, the Steam Deck offers a user-friendly keyboard that pops up whenever you select a text box. This keyboard is tailored to the unique controls of the Steam Deck, allowing you to type using the touchscreen, joysticks, D-PAD, or touchpads.

However, when you switch to Steam Deck desktop mode, the keyboard behaves differently. Tapping or clicking into a text box won’t automatically bring up the keyboard, leaving some users puzzled. This is because, in desktop mode, it’s more challenging for the Steam Deck to detect text boxes within individual applications.

For newcomers, this can be a bit confusing, as there are no clear instructions on how to access the keyboard.

In the next section, we’ll guide you through the process of opening the virtual keyboard on your Steam Deck while in desktop mode.

Activating the Virtual Keyboard in Desktop Mode on the Steam Deck

Before diving into the steps, it’s necessary to ensure that the Steam desktop application is running. The virtual keyboard cannot be activated without the Steam desktop app, as it manages both the keyboard and its opening shortcut.

  • 1. If you’ve exited Steam, you can quickly reopen it by double-tapping the “Steam” icon on your desktop, much like you would on a regular PC.
  1. 2. With the Steam app active, opening the keyboard in desktop mode is simple.  Just press the X button on your Steam Deck. This shortcut works anywhere within desktop mode, enhancing the usability similar to a physical keyboard.
  1. 3. Occasionally, certain games or applications may cause the on-screen keyboard to become unresponsive, particularly when navigating Linux based software.  In such cases, pressing the STEAM and X buttons simultaneously usually resolves the issue.
  1. 4. Once you’ve pressed these two buttons, the virtual keyboard should be fully accessible. You can now input text using the trackpad, joystick, D-PAD, or touchscreen, making it versatile compared to a traditional mouse.
  1. 5. To close the virtual keyboard in desktop mode, you can press either the B or STEAM buttons on your device, which acts similarly to a trigger function on a physical keyboard.

Additionally, you can tap or select the “MOVE” button situated at the bottom right corner of the virtual keyboard to close it.

Using the Steam Deck Keyboard in Desktop Mode

Troubleshooting the Steam Deck Keyboard

A frequent issue preventing the keyboard shortcut on your Steam Deck from functioning is the closure of the Steam application by Valve. The Steam client is responsible for displaying the keyboard and detecting when the STEAM and X buttons are pressed.

To check if Steam is running, look for the small Steam icon in the bottom right corner of your taskbar. We’ve highlighted this icon in the screenshot below for easy identification.

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


I hope this short guide has been helpful, and you now understand how to activate the virtual keyboard on your Steam Deck in desktop mode. 

You’ll likely use the keyboard shortcut frequently while navigating the Steam Deck in this mode.

Erik D

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