I am looking for an old style onscreen keyboard. Is this still an option on MacOS, or is there a third party application? Or has it been there all along but I missed it?

It used to look something like this:

enter image description here

The current Keyboard Viewer (a) doesn’t show the extended keyboard, which I do have, and (b) is pretty ugly; no, it’s very ugly.

Among other things, I want to record keyboard activity for teaching purposes.

I am using MacOS Big Sur. I have an Apple bluetooth extended keyboard. I don’t know whether the fact that I’m using the Australian keyboard is relevant.

For clarification - Big Sur Keyboard Viewer vs Mojave Keyboard Viewer [both on Extended UK Keyboards] - the one accessed from the Keyboard/Language menu icon in each case. the Big Sur one now looks like the old Accessibility Viewer.
Image taken by floating the Mojave one over a Remote Desktop Big Sur session.

enter image description here

  • I wasn't aware they'd messed it up quite so much in Big Sur - i use it a lot, but still in Mojave. Added images of old & new for clarification.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


Which onscreen keyboard are we talking about? If you check Accessibility / keyboard / Viewer, there's a button Panel Editor..., and the ellipsis is both strange and somewhat fitting, because it's a whole new world hiding behind it.

The screenshot shows the editor (top), the keyboard in use (bottom), and the Accessibility preferences where it can be accessed.

I dragged a JIS (large) keyboard into service, added a custom YOUR KEY HERE! at an unfortunate location, and a word completion bar (useful, considering bars usually impair my word finding skills).

There are prefab layouts and panels for most any need, and it allows customisation for individual applications.

It's slightly ugly, yes. I guess that's the fate of Apple keyboards both real and virtual: they get flat and dark. enter image description here

  • "There are prefab layouts and panels for most any need, and it allows customisation for individual applications." Sadly there are no prefab layouts for Apple's extended keyboards. The one I built for myself manages to look worse than the default and have less functionality, e.g. the number pad doesn't flash when I hit the key; also I can see no way to make dual function keys although they do come with the prefab layouts ...
    – mr.cook
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 15:54

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