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Here is the new one-handed keyboard for Windows 10 on phablets

Although Microsoft rattled off numerous new apps found in Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phone build 10051, one feature we previously did not know about slipped by us: one-handed thumb keyboard for large screen phones.

Evidently, Microsoft is giving users an option to have the full-sized keyboard, or a smaller 'squished' one that justifies left or right, depending on your preferred hand usage.

The feature is only found in large screen phones, which for so far is the 6-inch Lumia 1520 (we have not tested this on other devices). For instance, our Lumia 635 does not have this option, which presumably makes sense since that phone has a smaller 4.5-inch display.

To access the option, just do this:

One-handed Keyboard in Windows 10 for Phone

  • Open the keyboard in any app
  • Press and hold the '&123' key on the left side
  • Choose the keyboard icon
  • Select which option you want: full, left, or right

Alternate Method (easier, quicker)

  • Swipe left or right on the space bar key

When justified right, the keyboard can be used one-handed in your right handed, and vice versa for left justified. It is a neat little change.

Interestingly, even the full keyboard is indented from the sides on the Lumia 1520. This change improves our typing as it naturally fits our grip on the phone better than the current one in Windows Phone 8.1.

Considering the controversy over hamburger menus, which seemingly veers from one-handed usage, it is interesting to see Microsoft give one-handed typists a nod with this new feature. Evidently focusing on one-handed use is not dead at Microsoft. Now we are curious to see what else they can do.

Watch the video above to see it all in action! Jump into our Windows 10 for phone forums to discuss any issues, problems, or tricks with the new OS.

Missed our video tour of the new build? Just hit this link to get all the details.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

201 Comments
  • I found this by accident and had no idea it was a new feature in Windows 10. Thought it was pretty cool! I have to admit, it is easier to use the Windows 10 on phone with the Lumia 1520 due to the extra speed. Also, a fresh hard-reset also helps improve things.
  • Still there are a lot of things to be discovered. Does it lag in your 1520 too..? I mean, the resuming things and all.
  • Yes, Aman, Lumia 1520 is pretty bad with the lag, im not used to being on lower end phones but it is a noticeable decrease in performance with Windows 10
  • Glad I didn't install 10.
  • I have to respectfully disagree about the lag - at least on my end.
    I have two 1520s, one running perfectly on 8.1 denim (daily driver), and the other with W10M fast ring. Granted fast ring is not anywhere near ready, it is, in many ways, the obvious successor. I have spent much free time over the last few days mimicking motions and responses from 8.1d against W10M, and find that, in my situation, W10M is notably faster in almost every motion.
    That said, folks, were have been given something that is really unprecedented in the history of modern mobile computing - the ability to active participate in the development of a globally offered product. I, for one (as a retired dev&beta tester), am happy to play and break this - and report it - in hopes that the next generation of mobile OS's is as robust, scalable, and useful as possible. I respect MS for giving us the option to do this.
    /0.02¢
  • Just 0.02c? Your opinion must not be worth much at all ;)
  • Agreed.
  • If you are experiencing lag I am worried maybe your phone is broken, I found windows 10 operationally is faster than 8.1, yes there is bugs, Power saving (no apps shown) data bug (uses 3g more than wifi) hey cortana (gone but app there)   I would of used this as daily driver no worries as the o/s is fluid  
  • ....because it is alpha software, maybe? You are comparing performance on alpha with complete product. Not valid. Compare 10136 with 10080 or 10051.
  • 8.1 lags on my 1520 when typing. Normal? Supposed to be a new phone. Barely used.
  • That actually have been reported on many sites. But for me personally, I haven't experienced any of that
  • Yes, very much so! I replied my 1520 back to 8.1. I can't believe they even released TP this bad. I would love to give feedback, but my phone was just unusable
  • It would lag on my 1520, and I couldn't even unlock the phone when the screen timed out. I would have to end up force resetting the phone in order to get it to come back on. I just ended up reverting back to WP 8.1 until a more stable and reliable build is produced
  • I thought it was reported here sometime ago?. I could've seen it somewhere too.
  • Yes, iirc Joe used it at 21/1 
  • Hey uh, what does iirc mean? I see it commonly but I've never figured it out
  • "If I Recall Correctly"
  • If I remember correctly
  • You probably saw it on wmpoweruser the day before. Thats when I did.
  • Yes it was demoed on stage by Joe at the announcement of Windows 10.
  • Hey Daniel, unrelated question but how do I get windows central to email me everytime someone replies to my comment? I disabled it because I got annoyed but now I feel like im missing out...
  • If in the app, search in the settings.
  • What I'm trying to figure out is where are those extra large tiles on the start screen❓ Is there a trick, or are they not in this build❓
  • Id assume they arent in this build, cant get neither my 1520 not 925 to  show it
  • In settings preference option
  • Hi Daniel, this feature have been on 1520 since the first preview for anyone who have hacked their way to updating.   There's an easier way to get the keyboard out. Just hold on the Space button and drag left/right or you can even drag the entire keyboard to any part of your screen!  
  • Also if you have another language it'll show up in the same menu , try it daniel
    And hold the space bar and you can move the keyboard up or down as you want
  • You can also press and hold the space bar to move the keyboard up and down, left and right. It's kinda cool! :)
  • Can't wait to use it on my 1520 when a usable build is released. My daily driver. Can't wait!!!!!!!!
  • This is the same thing as holding and swiping the space bar left and right. But cool there is a keyboard shortcut...
  • But it was demonstrated by Joe Belfiore at the Jan 21st event. Weren't you sitting right there?
  • And Daniel you can add the language button again after its removed from keyboard settings
  • Looks like you didn't notice but if you hold the space bar you can drag It to sides as well as up and down ;)
  • You can also press and hold the space bar and move the keyboard to whichever direction you wish and native app text boxes respond accordingly. Doesn't work on installed apps like messnger. At first I had misgivings about the keyboard not being full screen even in portrait, but I've noted it improves typing considerably. However on my 1520, it shows evidently that this is just a technical preview: the back key does not take you to homescreen from app list or to the top of the homescreen when you're at the bottom; navigation is not that smooth; in Outlook email and other apps, auto-capitalisation in the keyboard doesn't work, nor does spell-check; I can't use built-in wallpapers for backgrounds and lockscreen wallpapers; some custom wallpapers have no panorama effect, as a result it shows black at the edges. Just to mention a few. I'll roll back to 8.1, but I'm encourage by the progress made this far. I hope the next build will be more stable.
  • The back key doesn't do either of those things in 8.1 either....
  • Hey Daniel do u know about moving Keyboard in 1520 if you just swype on Space key you can move whole keyboard in Page... it is amazing...
  • I thought the feature was pretty awesome when I coke across it. Daniel, do you notice the tiles go all crappy looking if you use the folders on your home screen? The icons are huge going off the tile and same with numbers/notifications on tiles.
  • Yeah I have that issue on my 1520 and 830, hope they fix that next build.
  • @Daniel Hold the space bar to move the keyboard anywhere, on my 1520, it won't review calls so I rolled back
  • I've never designed an app in my life.  I don't have money to hire a developer so I should learn how to program and build something rudimentary.  What programing language should I learn in order to design a system level keyboard app for use on Windows 10 touchscreen desktop and tablets? Thank you for all your kind responses.
  • I'd get in to the forums fella, there is a healthy crowd in most areas. I'm not a dev myself, but I know there is a dev section. I'm sure there are some Tha will wade in with some assistance.
  • You missed a couple of the new features ... Here's what I found ..
    You can adjust how much the keyboard is away from the size by adjusting the "keyboard size" in the settings.
    Also you can hold the space bar and move the keyboard anywhere on the screen (moving it to the sides switch's from the normal to right handed etc... And the emoticons have been slightly changed and new ones have been added.
  • Please What is the name of the program in the video ?
  • Mr. Daniel, why didn't you talk about the smart dialing feature?
  • I though Microsoft demoed this at their January announcement? Unless you're talking specifically about this build. Then I'll just quietly walk away... :)
  • I don't know, I just think splitting the keyboard is the best idea, one handed typing would be slow... Other than that pretty cool feature...
  • I've got Equaliser on GDR2 and I'm gonna stay with it till the next TP.
  • This feature is the one I suggested in user feedback. I don't know if I had a hand in this getting built out not. Glad it's in anyway.
  • Hard reset helps to disable the data connection and more imporatnt when I connected my lumia to computer with USB suddenly data connection begin active then I tried this  Setttings > USB > Turn ON "Ask me before using USB data connection" TG this saved my life. 
  • Need a demonstration for how to use this. So many missing keys.
  • Nevermind, just watched the video. The picture on the article had keys missing do I figured that was the normal setup.
  • I want to know double height tile available or not ?? In this build
  • Just tried it and won't work on my 920.
  • Good I have been looking for that
  • Not that I've seen.
  • Mr. Daniel, why is no one talking about the much awaited smart dialer?
  • There's an easier way to do it, keep holding the spacebar and drag the keyboard either to the right or to the left, you could also drag it up. This feature has been there since the previous build.  
  • Lol. Somebody missed it.
  • I hope it will be supported on Lumia 625 as well, I find it so hard to use sometimes :)
  • Yeah, I could use this even on my 1020. Not sure why they would limit this feature to only certain sizes of screens. Let the user decide!
  • I have normal sized hands but I can reach all of the keyboard on my 1020 so I don't see a need for this feature. However I agree that they should just add it as an option for people with smaller hands. :)
  • About to try it out
  • Cool
  • one handed or one thumbed ?? :P :P
  • Can there be two thumbs on one hand? :D
  • Yes if you are mutated. But good luck finding a pair of gloves
  • Hrithik Roshan
  • Is the justification of the keyboard saved, or does it automatically return to its full size after closing the app or turning off the phone?
  • It is saved
  • One handed keyboard is great, but the standard one not being full width is awful. Typo central. Plus if you tap the dead space on either side, the keyboard disappears - so I've sent about a dozen half finished texts since the send button is where backspace is.
  • That sounds bad :/ hope they fix it
  • You can change the width of the keyboard in the settings "keyboard size" just choose large and it will go as big as the old one ;)
  • On the 1520 even on large setting it does not go edge to edge
  • I hate those dead spaces.
  • Also if you have another language it'll show up in the same menu , try it daniel
    And hold the space bar and you can move the keyboard up or down as you want
  • I hope this means that there is a new flagship phablet coming soon to replace the 1520 since it's no longer being sold by AT&T or Microsoft.
  • It could also just be for the 640 XL
  • It's not as strong or fast
  • I have it on 1320
  • I have this i m using in lumia 1520
  • That is clearly my most wanted feature of windows 10. a #Lumia1320 user suffering from one handed texting experience on a phablet.
  • Yes! Trying to carry something in one hand and text on the 1320 in the other just doesn't happen :P
  • I need Dvorak support
  • I feel like Microsoft mentioned this during their Windows 10 event earlier this year.
  • They did show it
  • Yes they did.
  • I saw another video that if you press+hold the space bar you can move the keyboard around the screen
  • Omg that works too
    Thank you for showing me something new
  • It also exists in my L1320.
  • Cool! Finally can have this feature
  • If MS cares so much about one handed use then why do they use hamburger menus? >_
  • UX Familiarity.
  • I have no issues with the hamburger menu. The issue is its accessibility. If it could be accessed by swiping, the one handed issues would be reduced significantly.
  • Right, that's the real issue. But sometimes the hamburger menu is a problem although with the swipe gesture if you combine it with other gestures like in the new outlook mail...
  • Didn't you read that they still making future plans for 10 and that they still thinking of UserVoice mentions.
    Give them a time!
     
  • I know that, but looking at the preview builds and leaks it seems like they're not joking with those menus.
  • your voice is made by angels Daniel. my heart jumped and I died and revived when the start of the video had your voice right away.   ohyeah yeah, nice feature. although it is confusing people getting phablets to use it with one hand,,, then they complain about other elements being away nad having to use two hands in the end anyway. but I know complainers going to complain all the time ^______________^
  • I did a double-take when I read that first line lmao.
  • Those complaints sound legitimate.
  • Very clean. :)
  • This I very handy m using it on my Lumia 1320
  • Its on my 1320 too
  • I need it too on my Lumia 820. It's only an 4,7 inches device, bit it would be very useful when you're swiping one handed...
  • You have a 4.3" screen by the way....(though I guess it could have total dimensions of 4.7"...)
  • Maybe I can use on my Icon when available!
  • Great. The one very few draw back of my 1520 is you cant use the flow keyboard with one hand unless you have a 4 inch thumb.
  • Lol
  • The problem is, there is no swype in ghis keyboard.
  • I'm using it right now and wow this is awesome, I hope they keep it.
  • I don't get it, they are changing the UI almost everywhere and making IT impossible to use these devices with one hand, but want to give us a keyboard for one handed use :-(
  • Mine shows different language keyboard to choose. So I am not sure if it won't work when have more than one languge keyboard installed. or the whole SIgn-handed keyboard only work with bigger phone(Mine is lumia 830, 5" , is pretty big for my small hand.)
  • As an Insider, you could suggest one-handed keyboard for >=5" screens, and not only >5" ;)
  • I stumbled oh this feature by accident while using it on my L1320 running the preview..
  • SO SO NICE !!!! will be nice to use my 1520 with one hand...
  • Please dear God, make them add an alphanumeric keypad with t9. PLEASE!!!
     
  • Snowball's chance in hell.
  • Why on earth would they do that?! T9 is SO much slower than using a standard keyboard.
  • Maybe it's slower for you, but alphanumeric + T9 to me is much, much faster and much, much more precise: when I write with these horrible small qwerty keyboards, I always have to hysterically move my eyes between my thumbs and the text area to make sure I'm typing correctly. Also, I keep on making mistakes and the word suggestion thing is just too slow, basically no suggestion appears until I finish my word, making it useless.
  • Fair play....though I wonder which phone you must be using to have such a problematic keyboard? I'm running pretty old hardware (Lumia 1020), with a relatively small screen. The keyboard works perfectly for me - and I never actually need to look at the keyboard...
    But I guess if it is something that would help you, then perhaps it would be useful for others too. (With that said, I don't see the omission of a T9 keyboard holding back iOS or Android....so it would seem quite a niche requirement)
  • T9 is faster while typing one-handedly and walking. Every time I have to type and I'm walking around, I have to stop, hold the phone with both hands (thing which I loathe to do) and type. It also means less finger and overall hand gymnastics to reach further away keys. Having these sided keyboards is nice for the people who get around to QWERTYs but not for me. QWERTY only serves me when I'm lounging or sitting at work. When I'm not the move I do desperately need a 4x3 keyboard for portrait. Also, t9 is one of the things making me ponder an Android. It may be niche but there's still a need for it and having the option is nice.
  • I was really looking forward to W10 but sadly it is a mess right now couldn't stand it for an hour or two. Microsoft is really taking wrong step towards design language and the best or shall I say worst example is new dialler which looks completely like android.
    I know everything is subject to change and am hoping for the best.
  • New dialer is almost same like previous w8.1. Only swiping gesture is gone.
  • New dialer is almost the same?!! Oh come on - it may have similarities in function, but is incredibly ugly. It just doesn't look like a Windows Phone dialer.
    There was nothing wrong with the old dialer - it just needed inline number searching.
    MS needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel. WP8.1 is well reviewed and marks highly for interface and usability. It just needs the OS shortcomings to be ironed out - most notably with regards apps!
  • They need to fix those keys and make them flush on all sides. Shit looks like some bad miss aligned teeth.
  • Noice discovery!
  • Any one to tell how should I do a hard reset for my Lumia 525?
  • Use the Microsoft reset tool in the store.
  • Can you give me the link please?I couldn't find it
  • They have to add more features like recording option in dialler pad, pattern lock have to wait till next built comes.
  • Windows 10 for phones is taking a well needed update. We can't judge it until it's ready for the world. Alot of you guys tend to complain for every little thing.. Sometimes a step forward is better than to stay in the past. The world is evolving and so is everything else.
  • Yeah, after using w10tp from February, I cant go back to use wp8.1. Because w10tp is huge step ahead. I don't have any problem with hamburger menu, but I hope they also give swiping gesture with hamburger menu.
  • Mist be on larger screens only. My 1020 doesn't have that option.
  • I want That in my lumia 735
  • where are those giant duble size tiles?
  • Seems like they removed them because they weren't very useful at the time and just blew icon size up.
  • Or they're working on different branches.
  • Stuff windows phone 10, I've got update 2!
  • How are your notification sounds going? Or your YouTube videos?
  • It's good and fast on my 1520, but the full sized keyboard is too small
  • Great
  • I can't wait for the next MS Windows high-end phablet to test this out on. I know there's no guarantee, but I'm praying for some news at the conference later this month. I have a sinking feeling that it won't happen until the WPC in July due to being closer to Windows 10 release.
  • Is it just me who can't see some of the keyboard keys such as the A key in the image?
  • One of the function keys has taken focus (the one that allows you to change the keyboard position it would seem) so it is covering some of the keys.
  • Yes if you hold your finger on the space bar and drag it left or right will also work
  • Working on my 1320
  • Please What is the name of the program in the video ?
  • Not onedrive, not office of Windows 10 Previews?!
    I dont understand :(
  • It has OneDrive
  • I am on Lumia 1520: U can also drag the keyboard upwards and it switches places with the opened app so u type and the text space is actually at the bottom of the screen... WhatsApp and any chat/text entry space. Btw... Copy/paste between apps is not working in this build.. and the photos app is a horror to handle since there are no albums options yet... so i am going through 3000 pics like a zombie...  I hope there is a way to silence the dial pad while dialing because the whole neighborhood can hear my dial pad whenever i press anything on it and that is a huge bother And with the new email app... is there a way to create tiles for each email account? I couldn't find a way... I am on Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo...    And the calendar does not open Facebook accounts...
  • Funny I have all the same observations ;)
  • Why my windows 10 build no. Is 12534.56 and not 10051?
  • Alrighty than. Not great news.
  • Landscape typing still in?
  • Woohoo, about bloody time. Now just steal the ios feature of bringing the top of the screen down and I'll be a very happy man.
  • great feature!!!
  • Okay but it should also have the option to switch to the classic keyboard I mean like the dial pad...
  • I tried win10 for a day on my Lumia1520 (yesterday), and loved the adjustable and movable keyboard..and wished it was here from the beginning.
    However I must say this: THE SEND BUTTON IS UGLY. As well as other icons.. :'(
  • holding down the numbers key no longer gives you quick access to the numbers.  Add a numbers row  
  • Omg the texting GUI is so ugly wtf Microsoft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Hmmm.. That's your view. For me, wp8.1 has ugly messaging app, wp10tps is beautiful.
  • You must really like your gray circles.
  • Can debate about the minor difference in the texting portion but in the main page/thread view, it is $%#@$% horrible, ugly circle (??), inconsistent ugliness. Scientifically provable fact. ;)  
    Now as to whether the outlook app is worse than the messaging app at this point, I can go either way.
  • GDR2 has an equaliser and some improvements. Looking at size of the update(58mb) there shouldn't be much new features. Since w10 isn't in usable state, I'll be with gdr2 till next two months.
  • I'll be reverting to Update 1 because of some serious bugs in Update 2, like notification sounds not playing, not being able to record or watch videos.
  • Which phone are you using right now? Mine L730 is working flawlessly.
  • Had the same problem both on Lumia 930 and Lumia 820. The 820 went ahead and updated to W10 TP, though. There were some other people having this problem in the article about L930 getting Update 2.
  • You are right about the notification. It's not making any sound. But other things are working.
  • The notification sound is enough to cause me to be late to work in the morning. Can you watch videos on YouTube or Dailymotion?
    Edit: Desktop YouTube works.
  • Mytube, YouTube in uc and ie working perfectly. Dailymotion is good.
  • Estoy probando el teclado
  • Multiple Start Screens for Petition http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/multiple-start-screens-on-windows-10-for Please share it if you think this is a good idea. Thanks!
  • No need for a petition. MS has set up 'uservoice' sites where users can make suggestions and vote.
    This is the one for phones
    https://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions
  • Good old feature derived from Samsung Note. Good to have this.
  • hate new language switching option. I use it all the time. Old one is good
  • Thats awesome. The best part of this video, is that i can kinda see windows 10 on the AWESOME 1520 now. I really like to see more video of 1520 running windows 10 bilid, and if there are any issues so far on it.  The other thing i would like to know, if you can still use swipe on all 3 type keyboards. i LOVE using the swipe typing, it is so much faster, that plain typing IMO.
  • so it makes sense not to include it on smaller devices... because "small" for Microsoft is "small" for everyone else in the world
  • Will this option make it to larger touch devices? At times I have wished I could do something like this on my 10" tablet. 
  • Nice feature. I wish the Default Full Size mode for the keyboard actually filled the width of the screen on the 1520 when in portrait mode. I like the larger keyboard layout on my 1520... but with this new keyboard is noticeably smaller than 8.1 even in Full mode. Bummer.
  • Couldn't handle it.
  • Windows 10 excite me. :D
  • My 1320 have this too.
  • unless i am very much mistaken,i think we can also do this by draging the keyboard to the left or right by the spacebar.
  • Testing looks good. For a technical preview. OK.
  • no hamburger key? How am I supposed to use it single handed... :D
  • cool future
  • Its should recognise the voice in hinglish for indian user's this will revolutionized the windows phone as well as the smartphone industry
  • It was demoed by joe belfieore in january. You should also be able to move the keyboard around. If not in this release then in releases to come.
  • Thanks for this..I wasn't able to see what I type before,and I thought it was some scaling issue or something..I didn't know you have to adjust your keyboard..
  • Cool feature! Microsoft is catching up.
  • This was on the WP10 presentation, you maybe missed it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jV7JdpmQK00
  • Not for 920 right? Would be a cool feature
  • Really kool and funny how you keep trying make this thing on 'phablets' ooohhh losers ... hope one day u make companies n industry change the name smartphone with big screen to this... Till there u'll continue being losers
  • WP 10 is now dead in my eyes
  • Where is the language button? W8 is mostly useless to me, because this is not working. Also, what about multi-language support in Cortana? If I use German Cortana, if I ask her something in English (because it's IT's lingua franca), she fails miserably.
  • Can any body tell me how to get speech to text option???
  • Install Windows 10 Technical Preview
  • They can help me by putting the spacebar where the B key is...
  • Has anyone update to wp10 using data connection rather than wifi? I m stuck on 8.1 gd2, not able to download wp10 using data connection.
  • What I'd love is the option to select the number keyboard also, like when dialing phone numbers.
  • Is the notification bar is hidable
  • Unable to update Lumia 520, I run the insider slow fast both ways but, When i hit the check button or (not) my phone restarts, but after restarting when i check for update it shows your phone is up to date, what to do, i did reset as well ?