Advanced emulator input

Most emulator users will only need basic emulator input. The details below are for advancd users who have found a need to simulate more complex human input to the emulator.


To get started controlling the virtual input to the HoloLens emulator, you should first understand a few concepts.

Motion is controlled with both rotation and translation (movement) along three axes.

  • Yaw: Turn left or right.
  • Pitch: Turn up or down.
  • Roll: Roll side-to-side.
  • X: Move left or right.
  • Y: Move up or down.
  • Z: Move forward or backward.

Gesture input is mapped closely to how gestures are performed when using a physical HoloLens:

  • Action: This simulates the action of pressing the forefinger to the thumb. For example, the Action input can be used to simulate the air-tap gesture, to scroll through content, and to press-and-hold.
  • '''Bloom''': The HoloLens bloom gesture is used to return to the shell and to perform system actions.

You can also control the state of simulated sensor input:

  • Reset: This will return all simulated sensors to their default values.
  • Tracking: Cycles through the positional tracking modes. This includes:
    • Default: The OS chooses the best tracking mode based upon the requests made of the system.
    • Orientation: Forces Orientation-only tracking, regardless of the requests made of the system.
    • Positional: Forces Positional tracking, regardless of the requests made of the system.

Types of input

The following table shows how each type of HoloLens input maps to the keyboard, mouse, and Xbox controller. Each type has a different mapping depending on the input control mode; more information on input control modes is provided later in this document.

KeyboardMouseXbox controller
YawLeft / right arrowsDrag Left / RightRight thumbstick left / right
PitchUp / down arrowsDrag up / downRight thumbstick up / down
RollQ / EDPad left / right
XA / DLeft thumbstick left / right
YPage up / page downDPad up / down
ZW / SLeft thumbstick up / down
ActionEnter or spaceRight buttonA button or either trigger
BloomWindows key or F2B button
ResetEscape keyStart button
TrackingT or F3X button

Input control modes

The emulator can be controlled in multiple modes, which impact how the controls are interpreted. The input modes are:

  • Default mode: The default mode combines the most common operations for ease of use. This is the mode the emulator operates in the majority of the time.
  • Hands mode: Hands are typically not visible to the emulator - they are made visible briefly when performing gestures such as air-tap and bloom using the default input mode. The corresponding Hand is also made visible when you enter hands mode, or when you click "Turn On" in the Simulation tab, which is located in the Additional Tools pane. To enter hands mode for one or more hands, press and hold an alt key on the keyboard: use left alt for the left hand, and/or use right alt for the right hand. You can also press and hold a shoulder button on the Xbox controller to enter hands mode: press the left shoulder for the left hand, and/or press the right shoulder for the right hand.
  • Head mode: The head mode applies controls, where appropriate, exclusively to the head. To enter head mode, press and hold the H key on the keyboard.

The following table shows how each input mode maps each type of input:

DefaultHand (Hold alt / shoulder)Head (Hold H)
YawTurn body left / rightMove hand left / rightTurn head left / right
PitchTurn head up / downMove hand up / downTurn head Up / down
RollRoll head left / rightRoll head left / right
XSlide body left / rightMove hand left / rightTurn head left / right
YMove body up / downMove hand up / downTurn head up / down
ZMove body forward / backwardMove hand forward / backwardTurn head up / down
ActionPerform actionPerform action
BloomPerform bloom gesturePerform bloom gesture
ResetReset to defaultsReset to defaultsReset to defaults
TrackingCycle trackingCycle trackingCycle tracking

Using the emulator to control an app

This article has described the complete set of input types and input modes that are available in the HoloLens emulator. The following set of controls is suggested for day-to-day use of the emulator.

OperationKeyboard and mouseController
Body XA / DLeft thumbstick left / right
Body YPage up / page downDPad up / down
Body ZW / SLeft thumbstick up / down
Body YawDrag mouse left / rightRight thumbstick left / right
Head YawH + drag mouse left / rightH (on Keyboard) + right thumbstick left / right
Head PitchDrag mouse up / downRight thumbstick up / down
Head RollQ / EDPad left / right
Hand XAlt + drag mouse left / rightShoulder + right thumbstick left / right
Hand YAlt + drag mouse up / downShoulder + right thumbstick up / down
Hand ZAlt + W / SShoulder + left thumbstick up / down
ActionRight mouse buttonTrigger
BloomWindows keyB button
ResetEscapeStart button
TrackingTX button
ScrollingAlt + right mouse button + drag mouse up / downShoulder + trigger + right thumbstick up / down