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As a writer, one thing I found most annoying about using the Galaxy tablet is the on-screen keyboard. With the tablet in landscape mode, it takes up about one third to one half of the screen’s real estate.

On screen keyboard landscape

In portrait mode it’s not so bad.  With portrait, it only takes up about one quarter to one-third of the screen. That’s palatable if you’re only viewing one window at a time, but that’s precious real estate when you’re using the Galaxy Note’s split screen feature.

Onscreen Portrait Mode

Another issue I have with the on-screen keyboard is I cannot type nearly as fast on the soft keyboard as I can on a good old fashioned physical keyboard. Being a low-tech grandma and behind the times, I haven’t developed my one or two-finger typing skills. No, I don’t use a smartphone so I’m not used to using my thumbs to type out text messages. Low-tech grandmas like having physical keyboards (or voice recognition software) to bang out 80-90 words a minute or more.

Knowing that I have this character flaw I purchased a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard. I expected that once I paired the keyboard with the Samsung Galaxy Note that I would no longer see that screen hog of a keyboard, but I was wrong. Not only did the on-screen keyboard take up a large portion of my screen but it taunted me by displaying my keystrokes on the keyboard.

To add insult to injury, the on-screen keyboard didn’t budge when I pulled the S Pen (aka stylus) from its docking station. This was unacceptable and I had to find a solution to my problem.

Apps to Suppress the On-Screen Keyboard

After spending some time searching the web I found the answer to my problem. It came in the form of two apps (and a lot of finagling):

Settings - Language and input

Null Keyboard:  If your Bluetooth keyboard is paired with your device, Null Keyboard will stop the keyboard from appearing. Make sure to enable Null Keyboard in your Android Settings. Go over to “Language and input” and place a check next to the Null Keyboard box. Also, if you haven’t done so already, choose your external keyboard as your default keyboard and all should work fine.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for me. Here’s where my finagling came in. Apparently, there is a glitch in this app when installed on a Samsung Galaxy running the latest version of Android. I found out about the glitch after I spent time wondering what I was doing wrong. Enter app number two.

ASK (Any Soft Keyboard): ASK hides the on-screen keyboard the minute it detects a keystroke from the Bluetooth keyboard. After installing the app, go to the Language and input section under Settings. ASK has quite a lot of options to configure so scroll down to “Tweaks” and look for the “Physical keyboard tweaks” section.  Once there, insert a check in the box next to “Hide keyboard on physical key.” If you’re lucky, everything should work just fine.

Now here’s the most important step (for those of us who weren’t so lucky).  Take a walk around the block. After installing and configuring both apps, I seemed to have done something wrong. Not being able to figure it out, a walk around the block was the next logical step. When I came back, all was working correctly. Here’s the current pecking order of my input devices:

  1. When the S Pen is removed from its docking station, it is the primary input method.
  2. When the Bluetooth keyboard is turned on, it becomes the primary input method whether the S Pen is docked or not.
  3. When the S Pen is docked and the Bluetooth keyboard is off, the on-screen keyboard becomes the primary input device.

There is one exception to the above pecking order. The S Pen cannot be used to insert passwords. Inserting usernames works well, but the minute the stylus enters the password entry box, the on-screen keyboard pops up. After inserting the password, it quietly disappears. This I find 100% acceptable.

Every so often my setup gets a little cranky (this has only happened once or twice). When this happens I re-dock the S Pen and/or turn the Bluetooth keyboard off and then on again. That usually takes care of the mini tantrum.

So, if you’re like me and don’t like the on-screen keyboard, you can take charge of your device and configure it to your liking. If this dinosaur can do it, you can too.

FeliciaFelicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low tech blogger.