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Play style

This page will detail the various ways in which players can choose to play in their respective game modes.



Also known as pure-mouse, mouse-only players navigate the in-game cursor with a mouse while tapping beats, following sliders, and spinning spinners with only clicking the left and right mouse buttons.

Mouse-only used to be the only way to play osu! until other playing methods were supported over time.

The play style is widely considered to be the hardest method to play with and mouse-only players who rank high in the overall rankings are usually greatly respected by the community.

Note: The key overlay shows left/right click as M1 and M2.

Dual mouse

Dual mouse is a play style in which a player has a mouse in each hand; using one mouse to tap and another mouse to move the in-game cursor.

The play style used to be considered a joke play style to most players until May 2013 when Canadian player Azer starting getting top scores on highly-respected maps such as Hatsune Miku - With a Dance Number (val0108) and The Quick Brown Fox - The Big Black (Blue Dragon) whilst playing with two mice.

Note: It is also common for dual mouse players to tape the mouse used for clicking to the desk.

Mouse and keyboard

Mouse and keyboard is the most popular play style for osu! because it uses the most basic computer peripherals and puts less strain on the hand used for holding the mouse.

Mouse and keyboard players play in almost exactly the same way as mouse-only players with the only difference being that two keyboard keys (Z and X by default) are used to tap instead of the mouse itself.

Some players use only the keyboard to tap while others only switch to the keyboard when streaming (the act of tapping a very fast string of hit objects in rapid succession) and use the mouse to click for everything else.

Note: The key overlay shows keyboard presses as K1 and K2.



Notice: This play style requires the use of a graphics tablet (digitiser).

Tablet-only players hover a tablet pen over a graphics tablet to navigate the in-game cursor and only tap beats by tapping the pen onto the surface of the graphics tablet itself.

Note: The input overlay will show all tablet taps as M1.


Streaming with only one tapping input is widely regarded in the community to be nearly impossible at high BPM. Thus, to stream as a Tablet-only player, a player should alternate between tapping their pen onto the tablet and pressing one assigned secondary key (usually a tablet or keyboard key). This method is sometimes referred to as tapx.

Note: Since the pen tap was considered as M1, only the secondary tap button will work, and X is usually the default secondary tap button.

Tablet and keyboard

Notice: This play style requires the use of a graphics tablet (digitiser).

Tablet and keyboard is a popular play style among many passionate, competitive, and top players.

Tablet and keyboard players "hover" or "drag" a tablet pen to navigate the in-game cursor and tap beats using the keyboard or the tablet buttons.

Much like mouse and keyboard, some players also use only the tablet pen to tap while others will switch to keyboard when streaming.


This play style uses a touch-enabled monitor, laptop screen, or tablet to navigate the in-game cursor and tap hit objects.

To navigate the in-game cursor, touchscreen players touch the screen of their device with a tablet pen or their finger at the precise location in which they want the cursor to be at. This results in the cursor to appear as if it is "jumping" to the touched location.

When a touchscreen player taps the screen, their device will simultaneously move the cursor to that point, as well as send a mouse input. Thus, to tap beats, follow sliders, and spin spinners, touchscreen players will only touch hit objects when they want the hit object to be hit.

This play style may feel similar to playing osu!stream due to the act of touching the screen directly rather than moving a cursor.

Note: The key overlay shows touch input as M1.

Touchscreen and keyboard

Touchscreen and keyboard is a play style uses a keyboard for key inputs, and touchscreen device of some sort to navigate the in-game cursor; it is a play style most often adopted by touchscreen players who cannot perform streams using only the touchscreen.

Other styles

  • Laptop touchpad/trackpad: While this method is possible, most players prefer not to use a trackpad because of the extreme difficulty involved. Specifically, players argue that controlling the cursor movement on the limited space of the laptop touchpad/trackpad is clunky, slow, and creates a lot of friction. The trackpad is used to navigate the in-game cursor.
  • Joystick: A creative way to control the cursor. This play style sees the player hold and move a joystick around to move the in-game cursor and — depending on player's joystick design — taps using the trigger/face buttons of the joystick, or with the keyboard keys to register the beats. It is widley-regarded as a sort of "challenge" play style due to the obvious drawbacks and sheer skill required to control the joystick movement.
  • Metal plate: This is a special way to replace the keyboard for tapping beats. The method was introduced by geckogates and requires some wiring and electronic knowledge to build. The player will attach a wire to the clicking fingers (connected to keyboard's circuit for Z and X) and will touch the metal plates to register beats.
  • Gamepad: Like the joystick, this method is one that is more considered to be a creative, and out-of-the-box way to play osu!. Depending on the brand of controller, this play style could see a player using a built-in trackpad, control/analog stick, or D-Pad to control the in-game cursor. Some players may find it more comfortable to use buttons already on the controller itself to tap beats, or through a regular keyboard.



Keyboard was once the only way to play osu!taiko until other playing methods were supported over time.

Simply, the player would press the assigned keyboard keys to hit the drum parts. By default, X/C were for the drum centre (Red) and Z/V were for the drum rim (Blue).

There are two main styles of setting the keys placement in the keyboard: KDDK (Taiko default, or BRRB) or DDKK/KKDD (or RRBB/BBRR). The letters represent the placement of the drum rim or drum centre (e.g. K in KDDK for drum rim, and D for the drum centre).

Note: For key-binding, the default is Z, X, C, and V (KDDK, or BRRB).

Taiko controller

A taiko controller is the default play style and controller for the Taiko no Tatsujin series (Taiko Drum Master for US).

Note: Some skilled players who play using a Taiko controller may create theirs from scratch while others purchase theirs via retail or online stores.

Players who use a Taiko controller carry a Taiko/drum stick in each hand and hit the centre (Red) or rim of the drum (Blue) to register the note based on where it is hit.

Notice: Most Taiko controllers connect to the computer by using a Bluetooth connector should there be no USB connector, though this may increase latency.

Other styles

  • Gamepad: A gamepad is one of the possible play-styles in the various console variations of Taiko no Tatsujin series (including Taiko Drum Master). Players register Don/Katu by pressing the face (Right Don, or Right Red), arrow (Left Don, or Left Red) and upper buttons (Left/Right Katu, or Left/Right Blue).



A keyboard is the most commonly used and default play style for osu!catch.

To play with a keyboard, players press the left and right arrow keys to move the catcher and hold down leftShift to dash.

It is possible to edit the keys used; some players enjoy A/D for movement and the spacebar or rightShift to dash.

The key overlay shows the arrow keys input as L and R and the dash button as D.

Keyboard and mouse

Keyboard and mouse is a minor alternative play style of keyboard, in which players can dash using mouse clicks instead. Though some players prefer the reverse and prefer to control the left and right movements by using the left/right mouse buttons and activate dashes with the keyboard.


Using a joystick to control the catcher is a play style for players who are used to pixel-old arcade cabinets' control scheme.

Players move the head of the joystick and press the face button, trigger, or keyboard key to dash.


Using a gamepad to control the catcher is a play style for players who prefer the feeling of a particular D-pad or control stick as opposed to a keyboard.

To move the catcher left and right, some players prefer to press the left/right arrows on their gamepad's D-pad to move, while others prefer to use control stick directions. Though, due to a gamepad's wide variety of buttons, players can use triggers, bumpers, or other face buttons to move the catcher.

To dash, many players use one of the face buttons on their gamepad. Though, some players prefer to use triggers, bumpers, or control sticks.

Other styles

  • Mouse-only: Mouse-only is a niche play style in which players control all movements and dashes from the catcher solely through mouse inputs. Though this is only an option available on computer mice with M4 and M5 buttons (which are typically found the left-hand side of the mouse).



Note: For more information about mechanical keyboards, see this external guide for mechanical keyboards.

Keyboard was once the only way to play osu!mania until other play methods was supported over time.

To play with a keyboard, players would press down the keys respective to their placement on the in-game keyboard. By default these keys are D, F, J, and K. The advantage of this play style is that it can accommodate to basically all the keys settings.

Arcade controller

Arcade controllers from other rhythm games such as DJMAX, O2Jam, Beatmania IIDX, etc. are a play-style tuned for seasoned veterans at conveyor-type rhythm games.

Note: Since the use of 8 Keys requires the mapper's decision or the use of game modifiers, most players owning these arcade controllers can handle up to 7 keys (max default) and 1 special.

Dance pad

Dance pads are controllers for games like the Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) series, and the Pump It Up (PIU) series. (StepMania is a semi–well known, community-driven clone of both of these games).

To play with a dance pad, players "dance" on the dance pad to input commands. DDR pads have 4 panels: Up, Down, Left, and Right. DDR Solo pads add Up-Left and Up-Right to that. PIU pads have 5 panels: Up-Left, Up-Right, Down-Left, Down-Right, and Centre. Some 9 panel pads also exist for the purpose of compatibility with both PIU and DDR without having to change a pad. Normal DDR and PIU pads are often used in doubles mode in their respective games, where one player uses 2 pads for a song. DDR Solo games were all single-player, so they aren't commonly doubled.

A major drawback with using a dance pad is that it can be hard to hit multiple keys at once. To hit 4 notes on a DDR pad, you would either have to use your hands along with your feet to hit them, or position your feet on 2 panels at once.

Another drawback is that osu!mania maps may have been designed without dance game chart flow in mind, limiting the amount of charts you can (comfortably) dance to. Dance games are often charted with dancing chart flow. One big rule of charting for a dance game like DDR is mostly being able to switch feet for every note (with some exceptions). Since some osu!mania maps don't really follow those rules, which can make it really awkward to play a lot of maps on a dance pad.

Other styles

  • Guitar/Drum set (5/6K): The default controller for the guitar-themed (Guitar Hero)/drum-themed (DrumMania) rhythm game. Players stream on their guitar or hit the drums and cymbals to input commands. Drum players have a disadvantage compared to guitar players because they can only input two commands at a time without a special kick pedal.
  • Para Para controller (5K): This is the default controller for Para Para Paradise series. Players move their arms, elbows and hands straight above the proximity sensors to input commands based on hand position through the proximity sensors. The drawback is the sensitivity of the input receiver and the player's physical limitation.