How To touchscreen-toggle a virtual keyboard in Linux Mint

A brief tutorial to enable touch-screen toggling of the virtual keyboard in Linux Mint.

Objective Enable toggling of Linux Mint virtual keyboards from touch screens.


ASUS TP200SA and Mint Linux

I recently came into possession of a lightly-used ASUS TP200SA. Because this flipbook shipped with an un-expandable 32GB eMMC on-board hard drive, it’s a poor fit for a modern Windows installation (users trying to keep Win10 updated will be hampered by insufficient disk space). Linux Mint 21.1 Cinnamon installs easily in the usual way, comes in under 9.5GB of drive space, and provides a snappy experience.

The ASUS TP200SA is a flipbook which folds over into a tablet, so of course I want an on-screen virtual keyboard I can toggle from the touch-screen.

Enabling Virtual Keyboard

There are plenty of tutorials about enabling Mint Linux’s virtual keyboard:

System Settings > Preferences > Accessibility > Keyboard > Virtual Keyboard
Access the “Accessibility” menu of the System Settings.
Select the “Keyboard” tab of the Accessibility settings and enable the Virtual Keyboard. Setting the Activation mode to “Show keyboard only when the user activates it” allows the keyboard to be hidden when not in use and avoids activation by applications.

How to enable touch-screen toggling of virtual keyboard

There are two methods of making virtual keyboard togglable with a touch screen: either from an icon, or by using the Hot Corners setting. I’ll cover both.

Find “Virtual keyboard” in “All applications” (use search to make your life easy) and right-click to expand shortcut options. Add the shortcut to the desktop.

Right-click on the Virtual Keyboard setting and “Add to desktop”

If you’re happy taping an icon to toggle the on-screen keyboard, you’re done. If you’d prefer to use a touch-screen hotzone, continue below.

Right-click on the “Virtual keyboard” icon and open its Properties. Copy the Command string, which is something like this:

dbus-send ---print-reply --dest=org.Cinnamon /org/Cinnamon org.Cinnamon.ToggleKeyboard
Right-click on the “Virtual keyboard” icon and open Properties. Copy the Command string. (Yes, it works in the CLI too.)

Return to System Settings and open the Hot Corners setting, which allows you to bind app-launchers and command strings to each of the four corners of a touch-screen.

Return to System Settings and open the “Hot Corners” setting.

Enable a corner with the “Run a command” option and paste the command string for the virtual keyboard. Close and test.

Enable one of the corners to “Run a command” and paste the string.

Once you have the command string to toggle the virtual keyboard, there are any number of ways you could call it. If you come up with a cool or fun use for this command, please let me know.

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