How to use keyboard and mouse on Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is an incredibly versatile piece of hardware, capable of playing thousands of PC games in the palm of your hand, and many others through emulation or with a little tweaking. In desktop mode, you can use it as a Linux or Windows-based PC. However, one of the Steam Deck’s few weaknesses is how clunky the on-screen keyboard is to use. Luckily, there are two easy ways to set up a keyboard and mouse to work on the deck, bypassing the problem entirely. Here’s how to do it.

Use a USB hub or the official Steam deck dock

Before the recent launch of the official Steam deck dock, the best choice for connecting a keyboard and mouse directly to your deck was a USB hub. You can find all kinds of these on Amazon, Newegg, and other tech retailers, and integrating them into your setup is easy. Just connect all your wired devices – keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, even HDMI and DisplayPort – to the hub, then use the hub’s USB-C cable to connect it to the deck.

If you have everything set up correctly, that is, everything is connected; You shouldn’t have any problems using your connected devices in desktop mode. This process should work for both wired and wireless devices. The main limitation is that you need a second keyboard/mouse combo if you want to use your deck alongside a standard PC setup.

The Steam deck dock follows the same rules as above, and while Valve built it specifically for the deck, it can be used as a standard hub, albeit a bit awkward.

Use barrier

Gamepur screenshot

Barrier is handy software that lets you seamlessly use a keyboard and mouse between your Steam Deck and your main PC. Setting it up can be a little tricky, but it works like a dream once configured.

First, go to Barrier’s GitHub page and download the app to your computer. Load your deck into desktop mode and search Barrier in the Discovery App Store. Once you have Barrier installed on your PC and deck, open both. Install Bonjour when prompted and make sure Barrier is no longer running (given in the bottom right of the menu). Do this for both instances.

With Barrier launched on both systems, check out the app. Your main PC with a keyboard and mouse attached must be the Server, the top menu option in Barrier. Make a note of the IP address listed in the app. You will need it in a moment. Make sure you have selected “Configure Interactively” and then go to the “Configure Server” menu.

Gamepur screenshot

Click and drag the monitor image at the top right of the menu down onto the grid depending on where the deck is being compared to your PC. If your deck is above and to the left of the main computer, place the monitor icon in the top left of the grid with your desktop in the middle. Rename the new icon to “Steamdeck,” your deck’s default device name in Barrier.

Next, go to the Barrier drop-down menu at the top right of the app and select Change settings. You can leave everything on this screen except for one small button: Enable SSL. In all of our testing, disabling this option makes everything easier on both your main PC and the Steam Deck.

Screenshot of Gampur

Now it’s time to configure Barrier’s cover page. In Desktop mode with the Barrier open, check the Client check box, and then uncheck Automatic configuration. Enter the IP address shown in your PC version of Barrier, then go to “Change settings” on the deck and uncheck “Enable SSL” again. You must complete both steps every time you start Barrier.

Once everything is set up, launch Barrier on your PC and then your Steam Deck. Everything works if you can take your PC’s mouse from your primary monitor to your deck’s desktop. The transition is based on where you placed your deck in the Configure Server screen. So if your deck is above the PC, the transition will be at the top of your monitor. How to use keyboard and mouse on Steam Deck

Curtis Crabtree

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