Teaching and Learning with Technology

Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

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Non-English Keyboards
Macintosh OS X

View Macintosh System 9 Instructions

Macintosh System OS X comes with various utilities, but you need to activate them before they can be used. Unlike System 9, you no longer need to install separate Language Kits. Note that installing OS X upgrades from Apple will allow you to be updated on new.


Page Content

  1. Available Keyboards & Applications
  2. Activate Keyboards
    On Student Computing Labs
  3. Switch Keyboards
  4. View Keyboard Layouts
  5. Extended Keyboard Accent Codes Accents Section
  6. Unicode Hex Input
  7. Addtional Keyboard Downloads
  8. Unicode Character Palette New Page

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Available Keyboards and Applications

Table of Version Names

Different viersions of OS X are named after different animals. See table below.

OS X Xode Names
Version Code Name
10.10 Yosemite
10.9 Mavericks
10.8 Mountain Lion
10.7 Lion
10.6 Snow Leopard
10.5 Leopard
10.4 Tiger
10.3 Panther
10.2 Jaguar

Available Language Input Keyboards

The following keyboards are available as of OS 10.2 (Jaguar)

Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Devanagari, Gujarati, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hawaiian, Greek (modern), most Western and Central European languages
Western: Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French (France/Canada/Switzerland/), German (Germany/Austria/Switzerland), Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil/Portugal), Spanish, Swedish
Cyrillic: Bulgarian, Bulgarian Phonetic, Russian, Macedonian, Ukrainian
Central European: Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak

The following have been added in OS X 10.3 (Panther)

Multiple options for Japanese, Armenian, Cherokee, Cree, Pashto, Persian, extended Unicode keyboards for Finnish, Faeroese, Irish, Welsh, Serbo-Croatian, and others.

The following have been added in OS X 10.4 (Tiger)

Multiple options for Chinese and Korean, Russian Phonetic, Polytonic Greek, Tamil input palette, Nepali, improved Keyboard Viewer.

The following have been added in OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

Tibetan and others

The following have been added in OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

U.S. International - PC (has the same codes as the Windows U.S. International keyboard), others may have been added.

The following have been added in OS X 10.7 (Lion)

Support for South Asian languages have been added or enhanced. Specifically Bengali, Kannada, Khmer, Kurdish, Malayalam, Myanmar, Oriya, Sinhala, Telugu, Urdu.

New utilities for Georgian have also been added.

The following have been added as of 10.10 (Yosemite)

Ainu language, Inuktitut keyboards, Malay (Arabic), Kazakh, Azerbaijani, Uyighur, Uzbek, Kurdish (Sorani), Maltese.
Additional Dvorak keyboards have also been added.

Software Compatibility

Some very old versions of Macintosh programs originally developed in a pre-OSX environment (e.g. Office 2001) may not be compatible with some Unicode keyboards, however this problem has been resolved in almost all upgrades and is non-existant in OS X native programs.

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Activate Keyboards

Yosemite and Mavericks

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the Language and Region (U.N. flag icon)
    System Preferences in Yosemite. Language and Region is 5th on on top row
    System Preferences in Yosemite (OS X 10.10)
  3. Click the Keyboard Preferences button at the bottom of the window to open the keyboard preferences
    Keyboard Preferences button is before Advanced button
  4. In the next window, click the Input Sources tab. Click Show Input menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  5. Then click the + key to open available keyboards by language.
    Input Sources with US keyboard only activated
    Click the + link at the bottom left to see list of available keyboards.
  6. In the next window scroll to languages you are interested. Highlight any keyboard you want to activate with the mouse, then click the Add key. Repeat as needed for each keyboard.
    Add keyboard window. See text following.
    The Dvorak keyboard highlighted and a preview is shown. Click Add button to add keyboard

Location of Certain Keyboards

Older Versions

To activate different keyboards in OS X , do the following.
NOTE: If you are using foreign language scripts in "Classic" environment software, you may also need to install Language Kits.

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the International icon (or Text and International in OS X 10.6) on the first row of the Systems Preferences panel.
    System Preferences Screen capture
    System Preferences International Option (OS X 10.5)

    10.6 preferences window with language and text icon
    System Preferences Language & Text Option (OS X 10.6)

  3. Click the Input Menu tab or (or Input Sources (OS X 10.6)/Keyboard Menu (OS X 10.2) tab) and check the keyboards you want activated.
    NOTE: If you do not see the keyboard you need to activate, you may need to install them from an OS X CD or download the most recent version of OS X from Apple. Make sure the appropriate Localized Files are checked during the installation set-up wizard.

    screen capture of keyboard list
    Input Menu listing available keyboards and input palettes (OS X10.3-10.5)

    screen capture 10.6 Input Source list
    Input Menu listing available keyboards and input palettes in OS X 10.6

Student Computing Labs - For the OS X machines in the Student Computing labs, a number of keyboards have been activated already including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Icelandic (Old English), and several others.

Other keyboards can be activated by following the instructions above, but they must be reactivated every time you log in.

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Switch Keyboards

To switch keyboards:

  1. Make sure you have activated all the appropriate keyboards following the instructions in the previous section.
  2. Open a software application such as a word processor, spread-sheet or any other application in which you need to enter text.
  3. On the upper right portion of the screen, click on the American flag icon (U.S. Flag Icon). Use the dropdown menu to select a script or language.
  4. The keyboard will be switched and an appropriate font will be selected within the application. A flag icon corresponding to the keyboard will be displayed on the upper right.
  5. To switch back to the U.S. keyboard or to some other keyboard, click on the flag icon on the upper right and select a keyboard from the dropdown menu.

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View Keyboard Layouts

Keyboard Viewer in OS X

The Keyboard Viewer shows the locations of different characters on a keyboard, but not variations in fonts. Those are in the Font Book utlitity.

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences then International. Check Keyboard Viewer as one the options, then close this window.
    Note: In System 10.6 (Snow Leopard), the Keyboard Viewer is bundled with the Character Palette option.
  2. Open a document in any application, then switch your keyboard by clicking on the American flag icon (U.S. Flag Icon). and using the drop down menu to switch to another keyboard.
  3. Return to the keyboard menu and select Show Keyboard Viewer. A virtual keyboard will open.
    Keyboard Viewer Screen Capture - Set to Russian Phonetic
    Tiger Keyboard Viewer set to Russian Phonetic
  4. Press the Shift, Option or Shift+Option to see the keyboard layout under those conditions. Hot keys (e.g. accents) may appear in yellow in newer versions.

Font Book Utility (10.3 and later)

This utilitiy allows you to see variations in appearence between fonts. See the OS X Install and Manage Fonts page for more information on Font Book utility for more information.

For locations of different characters on alternate keyboards, use the Keyboard Viewer.

View Different Keyboard Layouts in KeyCaps (10.2 only)

Note: This utility was available in older versions of Macintosh, but was phased out as of Panther (10.3).

  1. Click on the icon for main local hard disk. Navigate to the Applications folder, then Utilities, then KeyCaps. Switch keyboards in the upper right flag menu to switch views of the keyboard.

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Unicode Hex Input

You can use the utility in OS X to generate many Unicode characters by manually inputting the hexadecimal code. Other options include saving word processor files as Unicode or UTF text.

  1. Make sure you have activated the Unicode Hex Input keyboard. See the activate keyboards section for more details.
  2. Open an application which supports Unicode HexInput such as TextEdit. TextEdit is installed with OS X and can be opened from the Dock or the Applications folder.
  3. Switch keyboards to the Unicode Hex Input from the flag icon dropdown menu on the upper right. If the Unicode Hex Option is grayed out, then you are in an application which does not support this utility.
    Note: Most current applications support this keyboard, but some old versions of software may not.
  4. To input a specific character, hold down the option key, then type in the four-digit hexadecimal Unicode value (e.g. 044D = Cyrillic э). Charts listing Unicode values for different scripts are available at www.unicode.org/charts.

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Keyboard Downloads

Several sites list links to freeware keyboard utilities for languages not supported by Apple. Thes sites include:

To use these files, you should install them in the Library/Keyboard Layouts folder (all users) or the ~Library/Keyboard Layouts folder (one user only). Reboot and Activate from the System Preferences International panel.

Read the instructions for each keyboard layout for details on installation and use.

Notes on Where to Install  


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Last Modified: Monday, 20-Jul-2015 15:48:34 EDT