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Remove the On-Screen Keyboard on the Vista Login Screen

I’ve got a Wacom drawing tablet hooked up to my computer, and ever since I installed Vista’s Tablet PC utilities, I’ve had this obnoxious onscreen keyboard on the welcome screen that just can’t seem to be turned off through any regular settings. So how do I get rid of it?

This same problem also exists on the Tablet PC version for XP, so we’ll detail how to fix either one.

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Removing the On-Screen Keyboard by Removing the Tablet PC Features (Preferred Method)

The onscreen keyboard is showing up because you have the Tablet PC Optional Components installed. This includes the Input Panel, Windows Journal and the Snipping Tool, so if you use those features you should probably just learn to live with it.

Open up Control Panel and type in “windows features” into the search box, or just browse to Programs \ Turn Windows features on or off.

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Find Tablet PC Optional Components in the list, and remove the check mark next to it.

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Click OK, wait a while, and then you’ll have to reboot your computer, but the onscreen keyboard will be gone.

Removing the On-Screen Keyboard on Vista but Keep the Snipping Tool

If you’d like to keep the Snipping tool but want to get rid of the on-screen keyboard, you can use a somewhat unpleasant hack to get rid of it. This hack will prevent the Tablet Input Panel from working at all.

Note that this is a total hack, and I don’t recommend it… just find a better screen capture utility. If you absolutely must proceed, here’s a workaround that you should probably not use.

This is the on-screen panel I’m referring to:

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Unfortunately, when you open it after applying the hack, you’ll get this error message repeatedly in a loop:

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To prevent that, we just need to open up Services from Control Panel, and then disable the Tablet PC service by double-clicking on the item in the list:

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Change the startup type to disabled, and make sure to click the Stop button before continuing.

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Then you’ll need to navigate down to the following folder:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ink

You’ll have to take ownership of the file, the easiest way is by using the Take Ownership context menu hack.

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Then rename the tabskb.dll file to something else. You could delete it, but that would be overkill.

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You’ll get at least one UAC prompt.

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At this point the on-screen keyboard should be gone from the welcome / login screen. Just don’t try and launch the tablet pc input panel… it will not work at all.

Removing the On-Screen Keyboard on XP’s Login Page

You can also remove the onscreen keyboard on the XP login screen by unregistering the component responsible for the login keyboard. Why they didn’t make it simpler in Vista I just don’t know.

Open up a command prompt, and run the following command:

regsvr32 /u “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Ink\loginkey.dll”

To enable it again, run this command instead:

regsvr32 “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Ink\loginkey.dll”

You’ll probably have to reboot for the changes to take effect. Note that I haven’t tested this one out personally, just found it on a bunch of different message boards and figured I’d include it for completeness.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/7/08

Comments (32)

  1. Benman

    That has been driving me crazy!

    I thought it was part of the Wacom software, never realized it was because I had the snipping tool installed. Gone!

  2. Keith

    Yes thank you so much for this. I thought I had some accessibility thing turned on so it showed up, I didn’t even realize that it was connected with my tablet.

  3. margie

    Followwing all these sirections, I still cannot remove the keyboard from my screen. Help! I’m totally wiggin out here………… (=

  4. ph15h

    How much did you pay for your Wacom? I was going to get a bamboo fun, but I can’t find one anywhere for less than $200 in my area.

  5. gieth

    Least to say I avoided some serious damage thanks to that info. Oh how that was driving me nuts

  6. Robert

    Thank you SO much.

    I just installed the WACOM drivers and presto, my printer is clobbered (re-install drivers), next up comes a floating side bar pop up menu (killed that one after 30 min of messing about in a load of new (confusing) menus) and now this annoying log-on keyboard “feature” has been disabled.

    Cheers!

  7. Tom

    AWESOME!
    Thankyou so much this was a F****** eye sore.

  8. kim

    this worked, but i don’t want to lose my snipping tool…however, i tried the hack for the snipping tool and the take ownership hack won’t work for me. what on earth do i do?!

  9. Jessica

    I’ve had this problem, too, but while I was looking around the settings, I found this thing for password security that apparently affects whether or not an on-screen keyboard shows up. I think if you change it to low, the very lowest setting where it doesn’t say it’ll show an on-screen keyboard (and all the higher security settings show it), it’ll turn off the on-screen keyboard at startup. Here’s how I got to it:

    Start menu search box > Tablet PC Settings > Other > Go to Input Panel Settings > Advanced > Change Password Security to Low

    The Go to Input Panel Settings is actually a link from the Tablet PC Settings.

  10. The Geek

    @Jessica

    I cannot believe I never found that before… that is simply great! You rule!

  11. helena

    i get an on-screen keyboard popping up on shut down how do i get rid of this i’m running xp….HELP!

  12. alex

    @jessica
    that didnt work for me. maybe I am having a different probelm… I still have the on screen keyboard on my logon screen

    also, I am having trouble disabling ALL of the features (as suggested in the first part of this post) because when I try to access my control panel home (classic, or new) it crashes windows explorer. would someone mind posting the direct path to windows programs and features? (eg: C:\control panel\…)
    thanks

  13. Jitendra

    For those who are still facing the same problem even after losing all other utilities

    Try my tried working fix given at http://yourhelpblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/disable-on-screen-keyboard-on-windows.html

    The above method works on few cases, but I request the how-to-geek to publish my method too, so that the remaining users can fix their problem too. :-)

  14. Kathy

    I’ve had this same problem for the 4 months I’ve had my HP laptop and I also have been going crazy with it! Tonight I finally found the solution. I don’t have the Wacom tablet…the computer came with the onscreen keyboard, whether I liked it or not….and I didn’t. Anyway here is the answer I just found on the internet and it works!

    1) Click on the Windows Vista Orb

    2) Click on Control Panel

    3) Click on the Ease of Access Control Panel

    4) Click on the Ease of Access Center option

    5) Click on the option Use the computer without a mouse or keyboard

    6) Remove the checkbox next to Use On-Screen Keyboard

    7) Click Apply and close the window

    The easy access on screen keyboard should now be gone. If you would like it back, follow these same steps and place a check in the box for Use On-Screen Keyboard.

    RELIEF AT LAST!!

  15. tug

    kathy, thanks so much.my duaghter was getting so distressed with this annoying crappy little piece of junk coming on every time she wanted to do some schoolwork she stopped using her pc & and used her friends.but since reading & following your info i finally got rid!!
    many thanks again,
    happy xmas,
    tug.

  16. matthew smith

    Thankyou so much!

    Literally the first result from google I clicked on was the best and easiest to follow.
    Now I no longer have to put up with that annoying keyboard. I was seriously thinking about returning my tablet.

    Thanks again!

  17. A Happy Person

    Thank you so much! Just proves to show that Microsoft still cannot get their Operating Systems done right. But thank god for people like you!

  18. Adam

    Heya dude i logged my pc on and it pissed me of in less then 2mins i spent 30seconds searching found this and it help good luck dude :’)-when i go college im going to be I.T tech XD :D!!! THANKS!!!

  19. RD

    There is another wrinkle… due to an ‘optional’ Windows Update…

    To get rid of the ‘login screen keyboard’ I had to go to Device Manager and remove a device in the ‘Human Interface Device’ (HID) section. The device was an IDEACOM device (and I clicked the checkbox for ‘Remove drivers…’ too). I had gotten it installed due to an ‘optional’ Windows Update… and I don’t have an IDEACOM device that I know of.

  20. JR

    Thanks for helping me remove the on-screen keyboard before it drove me to despair!!!

  21. Kai

    Cheers! Every time I logged in and had to see that keyboard, I was getting more and more agro..

    Although I’m still scratching my head about why MS have the snipping tool as a tablet pc feature..

  22. kim (again)

    Same Kim as before. I still haven’t fixed this issue, and the tips given by the Geek and by Jessica refuse to work for me. Does anyone have any other advice apart from uninstalling my tablet? This stupid keyboard at my login screen has been ticking me off for 2 years now.

  23. Kim (with Solution this time!)

    I found the solution!

    The problem is in the Wacom HID driver.
    I fixed it like this:

    Control Panel > Type “Device Manager” in search contents box > Human Interface devices > Wacom HID > Disable Wacom Virtual HID driver.

    You’ll still keep pressure-sensitivity in applications with your tablet, but this got rid of my on-screen keyboard completely after I disabled the process.

    Thanks everyone, and I hope this helps everyone else who has issues, too!

  24. J.Donner

    Renaming the file to get the keyboard off the logon screen worked, but it resulted in Vista that I had a blue circle appearing beside my cursor every 1 sec.
    The Kathy solution didn’t work, because it’s not related to this specific issue, what she is talking about is a different keyboard.

    On the other hand, Kim’s solution DID work for 100%!

    Thanks Kim.

  25. vic

    Kathy you are the womaaaaaaan!!! Asante sana

  26. Richard (found a fix for the hack!)

    HERE’S HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!
    howto get rid of the on-screen keyboard:
    1. stop and disable tablet pc service
    2. rename C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ink\tabskb.dll to tabskb.dll.old (see hack)
    3. go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ink\en-US (or whatever language you’re using)
    4. copy tabskb.dll.mui to .. (parent dir)
    5. go to .. (parent dir)
    6. rename tabskb.dll.mui to tabskb.dll
    7. finished, you keep the snipping tool, and no error windows afterwards!

  27. Eric M

    Solution for a slightly different but related issue…

    I use a Wacom Intuos 3 and after going from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 Professional (MSDNAA) I suddenly had a “Tablet PC Input” window floating on the left of the screen where you can hand write text, which I didn’t have in the previous version. To remove but still keep the click and hold capability:

    1) Go to the “Control Panel.”
    2) Find and open “Tablet PC Settings.”
    3) Click on the “Other” tab.
    4) At the bottom where it says “Tablet PC Input Panel options” click on the link “Go to Input Panel Settings.”
    5) On the tab “Opening” you’ll see halfway down “Use the Input Panel tab”.
    6) Uncheck that, hit OK and you’re good to go!

  28. Ray

    For making screen captures, (in Windows 7) if you’ve unchecked the tablet features, you can still do them if you have either of ‘Irfanview’ or ‘PhotoStudio 6′, because each of these image-editing programs have screen capture functions included in their features. Of the two the easiest to use is the one in the new version 6.0 of PhotoStudio, because all that’s required is to go onto its ‘File’ menu and click on
    ‘Capture’ for a little window that lets you choose what to capture – a part or all of it. PhotoStudio will cost you, but Irfan Skiljan’s ‘Irfanview’ is also very good, very popular, and is a freebie if you choose not to donate a little to him. There are other capture programs out there, but some haven’t been updated in years, and may not work well on our latest operating systems.

  29. Jennifer

    I succesfully disenabled the talbet PC, but after doing so and having to reboot. Then i could not log in, now it is like my keyboard is not working. What is wroong??? Can someone help.

  30. Karen

    Oh dear, in control panel, disabled windows features, and now after restart, the laptop wont start at all!!!

  31. Ebonee

    Um, I Am Trying To Get The On Screen Keyboard On My Windows 7 Hp Laptop, I use To Put It ON There Long Time Ago But Now It Doesnt Want TO Pop Up, It Just Loads, Can You Please Tell Me How Can Get On Screen Keyboard :( ASAP

  32. Ethan

    I used both the Take Ownership hack and the hack to remove the TPIP from the logon screen. They’re completely safe. Thanks a bunch.

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