How to Change External Physical Keyboard Layout in Android

Android is very popular because it is highly customizable. It can do almost anything that you desire. It can be customized not only through the hundreds of thousands of the apps available over the Google Play Store, but also by adding external hardware through the USB OTG Host interface. For example, if you find it a little hard and slow to type with the touch keyboard available in Android, then you can add an external USB keyboard through a simple OTG (On the Go) cable. Having an external keyboard attached to your Android smartphone or tablet, not only makes it convenient to type, but you can also go through the Android OS using it.

When you connect an external USB keyboard to your Android device, it shows an “A” icon in the notification bar of Android – telling you that you have to set the keyboard layout for the attached keyboard. Setting a correct keyboard layout is necessary for typing correctly in word processing applications like WDS Office (Kingsoft Office) etc.

Here is how you can setup or change the keyboard layout for an external USB keyboard in Android:

  1. If you have attached the USB keyboard for the very first time, then you can pull down the notification bar and touch the notification that reads Select Keyboard Layout. It will open the appropriate section of Android settings. Alternatively, you can also open Settings → Language & Input section in Android settings.Change External USB Keyboard Layout in Android
  2. On the Language & Input screen tap on the USB Keyboard under Physical Keyboard section. I used a cheap keyboard so it is showing “USB USB Keyboard” as the keyboard name. For you, it could be something else.
  3. A popup shall show up displaying the current keyboard layout. You have to touch on Set up keyboard layouts.
  4. A whole list of keyboard layouts will be displayed. From here, you can choose one or more keyboard layouts as you seem fit for your external USB keyboard.Change External USB Keyboard Layout in Android
  5. That’s it. Now you can enjoy typing using your correct keyboard layout and your external UBS keyboard will work on Android as intended.

Attaching an external USB keyboard may drain the battery power faster. So you may want to use an externally powered USB hub to connect the keyboard. There are also external physical keyboards specially designed for using in Android devices that use very little power and do not make you recharge the Android device battery so often.


  1. I have an older Proscan tablet plt7044k which came with a case with keyboard. The keyboard is malfunctioning so I purchased a new case with keyboard which the tablet does not recognize. I looked at this post but my tablet does not show a setting for “Physical Keyboard”. Is there another path to keyboard set-up which I could try? This tablet did not come with Google Play installed.

    1. Try using a USB-OTG cable and try connecting other “regular” USB devices like mouse, keyboard, pendrives. If they are also not working then tablet’s internal hardware has become faulty. Else something is wrong with your new tablet case. Your tablet is running on Android Jellybean 4.1. I am afraid, I have no experience of this Android version. I would have suggested a tablet case with Bluetooth keyboard, but then you have to match the Bluetooth version supported on your tablet and that provided by the Bluetooth keyboard.

  2. Download more keyboard languages from the Google Play Store or other online sources. That’s where I found Thai.

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