I am looking for a tool that would show on the screen which keys I am currently pressing while using other programs. It should show all the keys pressed, and as soon as I release a key - it should disappear.

I have tried many tools (KeyPose, osdHotkey, others...) that were suggested in earlier questions, e.g. https://superuser.com/questions/104421/windows-utility-to-render-which-key-i-am-pressing-on-screen

The problem with those tools is that they don't track when you release your keys. Instead, the key stays visible for a fixed time after it has been recorded. It is suited when you use your keyboard for typing or office usage. However, if the length of the keypress matters, e.g. you control something in a game, those tools are not suitable.

Originally asked on SuperUser, but it wasn't the best fit for that site:


  • 1
    How about passmark.com/products/keytest.htm ? Mar 28 '15 at 19:33
  • 1
    Nice testing software, indeed shows what I needed. But it doesn't work when running another program (or I don't know how to configure as such). Edited the requirements in the question as I was not clear about it.
    – CygnusX1
    Mar 29 '15 at 5:50

The freeware utility ShowOff should meet your requirements.

The key difference from the other tools you mentioned is that only the most recent keypress (or key combo) is displayed.

By default a key is displayed for 1 second but this is configurable. To represent holding down a key in your gaming scenario set the timetoshow parameter to greater than length of your longest keypress. And remember that the utility must be closed and re-launched for changes made in the .ini file to become effective.

The latest release is from 10 years ago but it works on Windows 8.1.

  • I tried that software. My time of press can be arbitrarily long (let's say - 30 seconds). But when I release a key (and doesn't press anything else) the last pressed key is still shown. Also, I get an Euro symbol when I press U, but that's another issue...
    – CygnusX1
    Mar 29 '15 at 5:43
  • Not working for me. Always shows NUMLOCK Sep 10 '15 at 11:10
  • This tool is working for me, but not the way Cygnus is asking: only the key down event is displayed, not the key up event.
    – calandoa
    Nov 2 '17 at 16:31

https://www.nirsoft.net/utils/keyboard_state_view.html this is simple and amazing. Check other nirsoft tools also.

  • 1
    Welcome! Please explain how the software you are recommending meets the specified requirements. Thanks! Sep 7 '19 at 8:20
  • I didn't understand why people give a -ve review for the best solution I found so far. i tried most of the solutions above. They are either paid or not working. You can see the screenshot in the link itself & doesn't need any installation. Now it captures only standard keyboard and some multimedia keys are not displayed when pressed. I use it mostly to check PC keyboard for button function check. I am not the owner of nirsoft webpage Sep 9 '19 at 17:45
  • 1
    Another NirSoft tool to the rescue! This was the best solution for me
    – byteptr
    Jun 4 '20 at 3:27
  • Why does nirsoft's KeyboardStateView , update every one second when in background? to be more precise, when is not active window? changing priority doesn't influence. Pretty unusable for testing games and debugging. Dec 22 '20 at 22:35
  • Be careful when taking keyboard monitoring softwares. I had found one of them is taking my passwords and trying a remote login from unknown locations, which was prevented as I had 2 factor authentication Apr 27 at 10:21

QiPress seems to work for me.

There is a lite and a pro version at $30. The lite version is enough for my needs.

  • I was not able to find the functionality I described. QiPress as with all other tools shows letters as if I was typing a sentence. I was not able to find a setting that changes that. I want a strict behavior - button pressed = always shown on the screen, buton released = never shown on the screen.
    – CygnusX1
    Jun 22 '19 at 21:07

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