MBraille Help

Introducing the Braille keyboard

Before you can start typing, you have to first discover the buttons for each braille dot. There are two fixed layouts, a horizontal layout like traditional perkins brailler, and a grid layout for holding the screen facing away from you. Furthermore, the layouts can be locked to portrait or landscape, or have auto-rotate to accomondate different screen sizes.

You can explore the button placements by sliding one finger across the screen. The full screen area is covered by the buttons and you'll hear each button announced by mbraille as your finger crosses over from one button to the next. (You can later turn this off from the settings by disabling the tutorial mode.)

You will hear each braille dot as you explore the keyboard layout. Once you are ready to start typing type L (dots 1 2 3) followed by W (dots 2 4 5 6).

The buttons corresponding to the braille dots cover the whole screen, so you have some room to adopt to a layout that suits you.

In the grid layout usually used with the screen facing away from you, the keys for braille dots are simple rectangles, again covering the whole screen.

Additionally there is an option in settings to swap dots 1&3 and 4&6, which some user prefer when the screen is facing away.

Using the keyboard

The braille key input begins when one finger goes down and ends when all fingers are lifted. You can tap all the dots simultaneously, or in sequence as long as at least one finger remains on the screen. The order of hitting the dots does not matter. By default contracted Braille is used, but it can be turned off from settings. To quickly turn contractions on and off while entering text, hold down dot 6 with one finger and swipe up or down with another finger.

One finger swipes

Swipe right towards the home button to enter a space. Swipe down to enter a newline. Both space and newline trigger the expansion of contractions in the preceding word. Swipe left to delete the previous character. Swipe up to hear what you have written.

Two finger swipes

Two finger swipe left to delete last word.

Two finger swipe right for undo. You can undo cutting and deletions, including clear buffer

Two finger swipe up to hear number of characters and words in the text.

Two finger swipe down to repeat what MBraille said last.

Three finger swipes

Swipe right with three fingers to go back to menu. Use the same gesture also exit this help.

Swipe up with three fingers to erase your current writing.


If you switch to another application from MBraille, the current text is automatically copied to the clipboard. You can then paste the text in the other application. To go back to MBraille, just go to recent apps and select MBraille to get back.

To copy just a given block of text from MBraille to another application, mark and copy your block as described in the next topic and then immediately press the home button.

Editing text

You can do simple editing with MBraille, preview what you have written and move text around by selecting, cutting and pasting. You can even paste text from other applications to MBraille for editing.

All editing gestures work on the same principle. You use one hand to press and hold one or more braille dots to select the gesture. You then swipe up, down, left or right with other hand to activate the selected gesture.

When editing existing words or entering punctuation, it is often more convenient to use uncontracted Braille. To quickly toggle contractions on and off while entering text, hold down dot 6 with one finger and swipe up or down with another finger.

Previewing text

Hold down braille dot 3 with one finger. Use another finger to slide or swipe left or right to have your text read word by word. Swipe up to read sentence at a time. Swipe down to drill down to the words in the sentence last read. Swipe down again to drill down to the characters in the last word. The preview mode ends when you release dot 3.

This help screen is actually displayed in the MBraille text buffer in a special read only mode. You can practise the text preview in this help.

You can move to beginning of text by holding dots 1 and 3 and swiping left.

You can move to end of text by holding dots 1 and 3 and swiping right.

Selecting, cutting, copying and pasting text

Navigate in the text using the preview function. Once you have found your spot, press down dot 2 while still holding dot 3. With dots 2 and 3 held, moving around with swipes selects the text that is passed over. MBraille announces the selected text as you move. To copy the selected text, tap dot 5 with dots 2 and 3 still held down. To cut the selected test, tap dot 4.

To paste text at the insertion point, hold down dot 2 and swipe down with another finger. Hold down dot 2 and swipe up to hear what currently is in the clipboard. You can paste text you copied with MBraille copy or cut function, or text that you copied from another application.


You can configure spelling aids in the MBraille settings.

You have 3 options for spelling:

  1. check spelling while typing.

MBraille will beep at each misspelled word.

  1. check spelling.

Only beep when previewing by words.

  1. don't check spelling.

You can also configure how spelling suggestions and corrections are done. There are two options.

Option 1, with list:

When previewing by word, keep dot 3 held and tap dot 4 to bring up a list of suggestions when you hear beep signalling a misspelled word. You can pick your suggesting of choice by swiping through the list, or tapping cancel at bottom of the screen to keep text unchanged.

Option 2, with a gesture:

When you hear a beep for a mistake while typing or previewing, you can immediately pick a suggestion from a list by holding down dot 1 and swiping up or down. The first choice in the list is the mistyped word, in case you wish to keep it. As soon as you lift your fingers, the correction is done and you can resume typing.

Hold down dot 1 and swipe to hear the suggestion spelled out.

Dot commands from the keyboard

You can perform various commands through the braille keyboard by starting a line with a period followed by the command and possible arguments, followed by a newline. Some commands operate on the text you are typing, others are standalone.

For example, you start of typing some text. Then you can send it away using a dot command at the end of the message. For example email it with via .mail, send it via a text message using .sms, or you can save it for later with .save.

The dot commands you enter in MBraille are saved, so you can browse and re-execute old commands. For example, if you keep texting the same handful of persons, it is convenient not having to type the command again. At the beginning of line, hold dot 4 and swipe up to go back in history, down to go forward. When you lift your finger from dot 4, it is as if you had typed again the old command. Just swipe down for newline to play it again.

You can also search from the command history. Type a dot followed by a space and the search keyword. Then hold dot 4 and swipe up. Only those dot commands are retrieved that have the search keyword.

Following dot commands are available.

Phone calls

.dial name

Looks up the name in contacts and immediately places the phone call. If more than one matches, you are presented a selection list to choose your contact from. In place of name you can use a phone number.

If you don't give any name or number, all contacts with a phone number will be listed.

SMS text messages

.sms number

Will directly send to the SMS with the current text as contents.

.sms name

If only one matching name is found, will directly send to the SMS with the current text. Otherwise you are presented a list of matching contact names to select from.

If you don't give any name or number, all contacts with a phone number will be listed.

Sending Mail

You can send mail with .mail command.


.mail "Hello there" Jack

Follow this with a newline and the send mail form is brought up with the Subject set to "Hello there" and To: pre-filled with the email address for Jack. The subject needs to be quoted if it contains spaces. Recipient emails are looked up from contacts.

If you don't have your recipients email address in contacts, you can type it out explicitly, like

.mail support@mpaja.com

Posting to MBraille mailing list

.feedback [subject]

Will send mail to mbraille-test mailing list. Subject is optional, it defaults to "MBraille feedback"

Direct mail

If you are using GMail, you can configure MBraille to send mail directly, by-passing the mail client and thus not needing to leave MBraille to send mail. To do that, you need to give MBraille your mail address and password.


.set mailuser mail-address password


.set mailuser mbraille-hero@gmail.com password

You only need to do this once.

For security, the password does not appear in command history, not is it saved locally as clear-text.

Other email providers than GMail will be supported in the future.

To go back to using the mail client, do

.set mailuser none

You can add a signature to your direct mails with .sig


Will add the current text as signature to direct mails.

Alternatively for one line signature you can just use

.sig one line signature

Getting help

To open this help directly from the Braille keyboard, you can give the dot help command.

Browsing and Searching

Opening a web browser

You can open an arbitrary url in your default browser with .web command.


.web mpaja.com

You don't need to add the http:// in the beginning, but you can, for instance if you are pasting a link. If the url does not seem to make sense, it is passed to Google to ponder upon.

You can do a Google search at any time with dot Google. It will open your browser displaying the search results.


.google word1 word2

You can abbreviate the command to .goo


.goo "Albert Einstein"

Note that you can quote search terms, as you can with a regular Google search. If you don't give any parameters, all of your current text is used as search keywords.


Spotify search and play


.spo song to play

For example

.spo rykiel conversation

Will start playing Jean-Philippe Rykiel's song Conversation. Btw. Jean-Philippe is a fellow MBraille user from France. :)

Social Media

.share subject

Opens the Android share menu. For now it will prompt you to turn off TalkBack.

.wup subject

Will directly open Whatsup. For now it will prompt you to turn off TalkBack.

File Management & Dropbox support

.open filename

Opens filename.txt from MBraille folder. If you use another suffix than .txt, you need to specify it.


Without filename will let you browse the files in /MBraille folder.
If you don't remember the filename, but remember it at the letter A in it, you can do ".open A" and you'll get a list of all files with letter A in the name.

Swipe left/right or up/down to go through the list, double tap when you have the file you wish to open.
At bottom of screen there is a cancel button if you wish to cancel the action.


Saves the current buffer with the name it was opened with. If a new buffer, the default name is notes.txt

.save filename

Saves the current buffer as filename.txt. It is saved under /MBraille folder which you can see with a file explorer, or when you connect to your PC.

.view [filename]

Opens the file in read-only mode. All MBraille text preview commands are available, but you cannot edit the file. You can still copy sections with the copy gestures.

In the settings you can turn on Dropbox file sync. All the file management commands will then work against the Dropbox files.

At Dropbox, the files will be under applications/MBraille.

Alias command to create text aliases

With alias you can create shorthand forms for arbitrary text. The alias is expanded when you swipe for space or newline.


.alias myname: Harri Pasanen

Now I would need to type just myname and it would be expanded to Harri Pasanen.

You don't need quotes if your expansion does not contain leading or terminating spaces. In the cases you need them, you can do it, like

.alias ans: " Your signature here: "

If you desire newlines in your alias, you denote them with \n (backslash n). For example the following alias mailsig

.alias mailsig: "\nHugs and Kisses,\n\nLuke\n\nSent with MBraille -- http://mpaja.com/mbraille\n"

mailsig would expand to:

Hugs and Kisses,


Sent with MBraille -- http://mpaja.com/mbraille

However, MBraille does not have a backslash in all the Braille tables and editing those long strings with \n is not so convenient. So there is a better way:

.alias myalias

That will take the existing MBraille text buffer and use it as the alias. Note that there is no colon after the alias name, myalias in this case.

Hint: you can create new dot commands based on existing ones, for example:

.alias .sh: .sms harry

Listing aliases


Will list you all the aliases you have defined.

Saving and loading

.alias save

Will save the aliases to a file called alias.mb. Aliases defined in this file are automatically loaded at MBraille start.

Note that if you are using Dropbox, your aliases are automatically synced between devices. As alias.mb is a simple text file, you can just open alias.mb in any editor to make modifications, or send a useful alias.mb file to your friends. The file can be transferred from-to MBraille either through iTunes or Dropbox.

You can of course edit alias.mb in MBraille itself, using ".open alias.mb" and .save commands.

The file format is:

myalias1: definition myalias2: another alias definition

Empty lines are ignored, as well as lines starting with # (Note that .alias save overwrites the file and sorts the aliases alphabetically. Comments are lost.)

Instead of colon, you can also use '=' sign to denote the start of definition. The leftmost sign matters. (Not all braille tables have '=', so I chose ':' as the default.)

.alias load

Will load alias.mb without having to exit MBraille. This way you can edit your alias.mb on a PC, save to Dropbox MBraille folder and just load it on the phone for testing.

Deleting aliases

To clear an existing alias, just define it to be empty.

.alias mailsig:

would remove the mailsig alias I created earlier.

To get rid of all aliases, you can save an empty alias.mb file and then to .alias load.


Alias expansion happens before any contracted braille expansion. Alias expansion is not recursive. In the alias.mb file, you don't need to prefix the lines with ".alias " command.

Odds and Ends

Additional Symbols

MBraille supports the following multi cell symbols. Note that the voice feedback is a little confusing, as separate cells are announced in braille ASCII until the word is complete.

456-1456 - hash symbol

% 4-25-1234 - percent & 4-12346 - ampersand ' 6-236 - single quote ' 356-3 - single quote 5-35 - asterix 35-35 - asterix + 5-235 - plus - 5-36 - minus ... 3-3-3 - ellipses / 456-34 - slash : 4-156 - colon = 5-2356 - equals @ 4-1 - at [ 6-2356 - open bracket ] 2356-3 - close bracket ¢ 4-14 - cent(s) £ 4-123 - pound(s) $ 4-234 - dollar(s) note that in contracted braille this needs to be terminated with dots 56 to distinguish from ble contraction ¥ 4-13456 - yen © 45-14 - copyright ® 45-1235 - registered trademark × 5-236 - multiplication ÷ 5-34 - division – 36-36 - dash –– 36-36-36-36 - double dash ″ 4-35 - double quote € 4-15 - euro(s) ™ 45-2345 - trademark

Changing the Braille table and spoken language

.lang language-code

For example

.lang fr

would save the change the Braille table and spoken language to French.

.lang fr save

will save the chosen language and voice as default.

You can also specify the English variant used

.lang en_us

would be US English. Other options are en_gb, en_ca, en_au, en_in. In place of underscore you can use a hyphen.

Note that you need to have the corresponding Voice available for the TTS engine that you are using.



MBraille would not be there without the team of testers who provided invaluable feedback along the road. Android version testers in alphabetical order:

Special mention goes to translators

Design and coding

Harri Pasanen

Copyright MPaja.com 2014