One of the things I need to do in a role as a tutor is demonstrate software packages to students. To aid in pointing out parts of the screen, I’ve been using Zoomit for several years which works well as I can zoom in and “draw” on parts of the screen. While it’s not nearly as pretty as some of the alternatives available on the mac, it’s functional and I’ll keep using it until I find something better for the windows platform.

Being able to highlight things during software demonstrations is great, however using Zoomit, there isn’t really a way to show students what keys I’m pressing. As any video editor or graphics person knows, having a solid knowledge of available keyboard shortcuts can speed up your work process greatly. Because of this, I want to pass knowledge of keyboard shortcuts onto my students.

Onscreen Typing

After some searching on the we I came across this. While it does the job, there really isn’t much that can be customised about the program. The other LARGE issue (for me anyway), is there doesn’t seem to be a quick and simple way to disable the program temporarily. This is an issue whenever I need to login to a website in front of students.

With these limitations in mind, I decided to create my own program. Problem is, I’m terrible at writing code. So I roped in my house-mate Rory Salmon the help me out. What he’s come up with is a little rough around the edges, but does the job for what I need, so thanks to him! It doesn’t require installation (a big plus for those of us who work in places where machines are reset at every reboot), it’s lightweight, and there’s only two files to worry about. The program delay keyboard shortcut (so it doesn’t display text while typing a password) is CTRL-ALT-Z. By default the program pauses for 5 seconds. (this can be changed)

The program was created in AutoIt, so if anyone would like to take what he’s done and make changes, feel free to do so. All we ask is you send us a copy of what you do so we can share the changes with everyone! (email)

There are three files available in the download here.

  • The compiled exe (the program itself)
  • The AutoIt .au3 file (so you can check this program isn’t doing anything evil) If you don’t want to change the program you can delete this
  • The config.ini file (to easily change basic options)


Below is an overview of the config file:

Title=KEYS! (Title of the window. Leave this at default unless you know what you’re doing)
Height=75 (background block height in pixels)
WidthBorder=50 (the gap on the left/right sides of the background block)
HeightBorder=200 (gap to bottom of screen)
BGColour=0x7F000000 (alpha then RBG hex)
NewLineDelay=0.5 (the delay before the program will replace what’s being shown with something new you’re typing)
Transparency=160 (transparency of the window – between 0 and 255)
LockTimer=5 (how long the program stops displaying characters after a keyboard shortcut – useful for when you need to enter a password)

FadeOutDelay=5 (Delay in seconds until text fades out)
FadeOutSpeed=0.7 (in seconds how long it takes to fade)
FadeOutTransitions=7 (different levels of transparency to create the fade – don’t make this too high or you’ll get a performance hit)

FadeInSpeed=0.5 (how long it takes to fade in, in seconds)
FadeInTransitions=5 (how many levels are shown to create the fade)

Size=48 (font size)
Font=Arial (Font family)
Colour=0xFFFFFFFF (Colour of the font)

I thought I’d chuck this up here in case there are other tutors, teachers, demonstrators etc who need similar functionality.

Download the zip file here.

I’ll post updates as the program evolves.