Using the touchscreen


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Using the touchscreen

creating a shopping list on a tablet

What's coming up?

In this activity, you’ll learn all about using your tablet’s touchscreen. You’ll find out about the most common commands and gestures, how to type with the onscreen keyboard, and how to open an app.

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What is a touchscreen?

A touchscreen is a special kind of screen that responds to touch. Instead of needing to attach a mouse or keyboard to your tablet, you simply touch the screen in different ways, to select, open, move and interact with items on the screen.

You don't need to press hard for a touchscreen to work. A light touch with the tip of your finger is all that's needed.

tapping an app icon
a locked padlock

eSafety tip

The touchscreen on your tablet only works if your fingers are bare and also dry. If you use the tablet outside while wearing gloves, the touchscreen may not respond. Similarly, if you have just washed your hands and they are still a bit damp or clammy, the touch screen might not work either.

To get a proper response from the touch screen, always use your tablet with warm, dry hands.

tapping the screen

How to tap

There are several common finger movements you can use on a touchscreen. These movements are known as gestures.

Tapping on the screen with any finger can open an application, photo, or website. You also tap to select a checkbox or any other item on screen.

On the next panel is a short demonstration of tapping on a touchscreen. Click Continue below and then click anywhere on the video to start watching.

How to tap on a touchscreen - demonstration

swiping the screen

How to swipe

To turn a page, or move horizontally through a website or other screen, you can swipe with one finger across the screen in the direction to want to navigate. You can think of it like turning the page in a book. This gesture is known as swiping.

The swipe can also be used to browse through a gallery of photos or images.

If you have an iPad or certain models of Android tablet, you might also need to swipe to unlock your tablet each time you want to use it.

How to swipe on a touchscreen - demonstration

How to scroll

Just like on a laptop and desktop computer, sometimes a document or web page is too tall to fit on the screen. This is where you can use a finger to scroll the page up or down.

To scroll a page, gently place your finger on the screen and slide it up and down to scroll. Be careful not to scroll too quickly as this will cause the screen to move up or down rapidly.

scrolling with two fingers

How to scroll on a touchscreen - demonstration

a locked padlock

eSafety tip

If you are used to scrolling on a computer or laptop using a mouse, you will find that scrolling on tablet is different.

On a computer, you move the mouse down to see more of a document come up from the bottom of the screen.

On a tablet, you’ll need to slide your finger up, to see more of a document come up from the bottom of the screen.

Typing on a touchscreen

Whenever you need to type something on a touchscreen, a keyboard will appear.

This happens when you tap a box called a text field. A text field is usually long and rectangular, with a border, but some text fields might only have a line at the bottom.

typing on a touchscreen
typing on a touchscreen

Typing on a touchscreen (continued)

The onscreen keyboard works the same as a physical keyboard, and lets you fill in forms, send emails, type search terms into a web browser, and more.

If you need to type capital letters, tap the Shift or Caps Lock key and you’ll notice the letters on the keyboard turn to capital letters. You only have to tap the Shift key once, however - there's no need to hold it down.

Typing numbers and symbols

To type number keys and symbols, press the symbols button. On an Apple device, it's the ?123 button. On other devices, the button may show symbols like @!&.

Tap either button and the keyboard will change to show symbols and numbers.

To go back to the letters keyboard, tap the ABC key.

typing numbers and symbols
tapping on an app icon

Opening an app

Tapping on a touchscreen can also be used to open an app, so it fills the tablet’s screen.

To open an app, find the icon for that app on the tablet's screen, and tap on it. The app should open, ready for you to use.

Well done!

You’ve just completed the Using the touchscreen activity and learned how to navigate around your tablet, use the keyboard and explored some basic gestures.

Up next, learn about some other touchscreen controls in the Advanced touchscreen controls activity.

typing on screen