10 Computer Input Devices

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: PhotoBylove/iStock/GettyImages

Computer input devices are an essential part of any computer system. Without an input device, you won't be able to interact with a computer. Most of us are familiar with the keyboard and mouse as input devices, but you may be surprised at the wide variety of other devices that are currently available for inputting data into a computer.


10 Examples of Input Devices

The computer keyboard is the most widely used device for inputting text into a computer. Most keyboards allow you to enter both text and numeric data and to use designated function keys as shortcuts for common system functions. For example, the F5 key can be used to refresh a browser window on computers running the Windows operating system.

Video of the Day

The computer mouse, touchpad and trackball are the second, third and fourth examples computer input devices. They all perform tracking functions. While a keyboard is sufficient for text input, modern user interfaces require you to interact with graphical buttons and menus on the display in order to execute commands. The mouse device is held in the hand and moved across a flat surface to specify relative movement. Many laptops provide a touchpad as a mouse alternative. Movement is specified by sliding a finger along the surface of the touchpad. A trackball is similar to a mouse, but it has a ball on top that is moved by the fingers to define motion. Although a trackball device requires less arm movement on the part of the user, it has never been as popular for input as the mouse.


Next on the list is the touchscreen. A computer's display is traditionally an output device, but it becomes an input device when given touchscreen capabilities. Starting with Windows 10, the touchscreen has become a common input device for personal computer systems.

Besides interacting with the computer's interface, input devices can be used to capture data directly from source material. So, a sixth example of a computer input device is the digital scanner, which can be used to input a digital version of a photo or document.


Seventh is the graphics tablet, an input device used by artists to capture drawings directly as they're being created. The user draws on the tablet with a stylus that mimics a pen or brush and the lines are converted by the input device to digital data.

The eighth and ninth examples of computer input devices are the microphone and digital camera, which can be used to input audio and visual data.

Biometric devices are the final and most recent innovation among these 10 input devices. They're used to input data related to personal physical characteristics. The most common application for this type of data is for security, with an image of a person's fingerprint or face used in place of a login and password.