I don’t know what I did. I was minding my own business, dictating a blog post into my phone while I took my evening walk. At some point I brushed against the screen with my sweaty hand, and next thing I knew, this sidebar showed up on my keyboard, shrinking the already small keys. I didn’t ask for an Android keyboard sidebar. So here’s how I fixed it.

The keyboard sidebar is called one-handed mode

Android keyboard sidebar

This Android keyboard sidebar is called one handed mode. To disable it, tap the three dots (next to the microphone) and toggle one handed mode from the menu. With the sidebar gone, the keys have about 10 percent more real estate.

It turns out the Android keyboard has something called one-handed mode. Normally, you enable or disable it from the menu that looks like three dots, in between the gear and the microphone. So it’s easy to get rid of the mystery Android keyboard sidebar once you know what it’s called. Tap the three dots, find one-handed mode in the resulting menu, and tap it to deselect it. Of course I looked lots of other places first, but I eventually found it. I’ll share it with you so maybe you don’t have to look as many places.

I was afraid it was some non-optional system update. So I was glad to find the setting. Maybe this sounds curmudgeonly, but there’s not enough room on that tiny screen for a keyboard and a sidebar with a bunch of functions I’ll never use. And shifting the keys one position to the left or right (it’s configurable!) messed with my muscle memory.
I don’t know what the intent for one-handed mode is, and how shrinking keys a good 10 percent makes it easier to type with one hand, but I’m not sure it matters. 30 seconds later, I’ve got my keyboard back to how I’m used to.
There must be some little-known shortcut for enabling or disabling it that I accidentally did, and I’m not enough of an Android power user to know what that was. But at least I can share how to fix it.