How to Get Keyboard on Steam Deck Desktop Mode: A Step-by-Step Guide


Struggling to bring up the keyboard on your Steam Deck? 

You’re not alone! Many gamers find themselves stuck, unable to type or screenshot. Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the simple steps to access the keyboard in both desktop and gaming modes. Plus, we’ll share a bonus tip on how to exit desktop mode effortlessly. 

Get ready to level up your Steam Deck skills and enjoy a seamless gaming experience!

What is Desktop Mode? 

Video game publisher, developer, and digital distribution company Valve first made the Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC that can run almost any Steam game on the go, formal announcement back in July 2021.

Full of useful features, players quickly discovered that Steam Deck functions as a desktop computer as well. Powered by a custom-built derivative of Arch-Linux, Steam Deck lets you accomplish nearly anything you can do with a standard PC. 

Steam Deck’s desktop mode can perform all a user might possibly want and more, despite not being as user-friendly as Windows. A user may view movies, listen to music, take brief notes, browse the internet, and do some other functions with it.

To learn more about maximizing your Steam Deck’s potential, check out our helpful tips and tricks.

How to Enable Desktop Mode on Steam Deck? 

Luckily, Valve has stated that Steam Deck can be used just like a full-fledged desktop from day one. That’s because they ensure that a user can access the desktop mode of Steam Deck without any issues. 

So, below are the steps that you need to follow to enable desktop mode. 

Step 1: The first step you need to do is turn on the Steam Deck. Because by default the handheld console would boot into the Steam OS and the Big Picture UI. 

Step 2: Now, after the device is booted press the Steam Button. The button is usually right above the bottom left speaker which is marked with Steam.

Alternatively, you also can use the touchscreen that would bring up the menus with a click of the stream option in the bottom left corner. 

Step 3: After you have pressed the Steam button navigate to the power option and tap the “A” button. This would open up a new pop-up menu for you. 

Step 4: Under the power options, select “Switch to Desktop”.This would turn off SteamOS and switch the Steam Deck to Desktop Mode. 

Users can use the handheld game console as a portable computer when it is in desktop mode. The left trackpad can be used for scrolling, and the right touchpad for controlling the mouse. 

On the Steam Deck, you can even use the trigger buttons for left- and right-clicking. Moreover, you can launch Steam Deck’s virtual keyboard in desktop mode.

How To Get Keyboard on Steam Deck Desktop Mode? 

If you are confused about how to bring up the keyboard on the steam deck, then follow the steps below : 

Step 1: Press the ‘Stream’ and “X” buttons simultaneously on the desktop mode 

Step 2:  The virtual keyboard will appear which will allow you to type using a joystick d-pad or touch screens. 

Step 3: To exit the virtual keyboard, press the ‘B’ button or select the keyboard icon on the bottom right-hand side of the virtual keyboard. 

By using these steps, you can easily access the use of the virtual keyboard on your Steam Deck while you are in desktop mode.

How To Screenshot on Steam Deck? 

To take a screenshot on a Steam Deck while playing a game, press the R1 button on the Steam button on the left side of the screen and then press the R1 button on the Steam Deck simultaneously.

This action will instantly take a picture of the game and save it to the screenshot library. 

How To Exit Steam Deck Desktop Mode? 

To exit the Steam Deck desktop, and return to gaming mode follow these steps: 

  1. Click on the “ Return to Gaming Mode” icon located in the upper left corner of the screen. 
  2. The Steam Deck will reboot and take you back to gaming mode. 

If you want to exit desktop mode without rebooting, you can double-click the trackpad or press the A button to return to gaming mode.

This way, you can continue download while your Steam Deck sleeps.


The Steam Deck is an incredibly versatile device thanks to its desktop mode features. 

With the simple tricks outlined in this guide, you can easily transform your handheld gaming console into a fully functional portable PC complete with a keyboard, mouse controls, screenshot capabilities, and everything you’d expect from a Linux computer.

Just follow our tips that are mentioned above so that you can maximize the capabilities of your steam deck. 

If you’re considering alternatives, be sure to read our comparison of the Ayaneo Air Pro and Steam Deck to find the best handheld gaming device for your needs.

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Saiful Emon

Emon is a tech enthusiast who loves to explore and write about the latest gadgets and innovations. Now he uses his passion and knowledge to cover topics like artificial intelligence, gaming, wearables, and the potential of computers. When he is not writing, he enjoys playing video games, watching sci-fi movies, and discovering new places.