Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tibetan in OS X

Until recently, I thought that the only way to do correct Unicode Tibetan in OS X was to purchase the Tibetan language kit from XenoTypeTech. This is because OS X requires an AAT font for this script, and that was the only source. But I have discovered that the program OpenOffice/X11 can display correct Tibetan using free Windows OpenType fonts. Also that there are some free keyboard layouts which work with OpenOffice. For full info, see my note at

Typing Tibetan

16 comments:

Colleen said...

I've been able to get the Tibetan Machine Web fonts to work in TextEdit (using Chris Walker's Wylie keyboard input program).

I was hoping to be able to use them in NeoOffice/J in OS X (10.3.9), but TMW doesn't work - letters are broken up.

I'm not that tech-savvy, but from what I can gather NeoOffice lacks a component (X11) that OpenOffice/X11 has. Is this the critical thing that makes the TMW font usable in a full-featured word-processor?

BTW, when working in Windows (via Virtual PC), I also was able to get Sambhota-Word docs to display correctly in OpenOffice. This has been very handy, as I'm running Sambhota from an old version of Word (98), which doesn't have a "save as PDF file" option. Now, I can input text in Sambhota in the old Word program, and save as a normal doc file. Then, by opening that file in OpenOffice I can make it a PDF. (OO doesn't work for the raw input with Sambhota, however.)

Tom Gewecke said...

I assume you are talking about the Non-Unicode TMW font and input methods. I regret I don't know anything about them or how to make them work. If possible, I would recommend that you move to Unicode fonts like Tibetan Machine Uni and the XenoTypeTech kit, as this technology is now the international standard and has superseded the other one. OpenOffice should allow you to produce correct Unicode Tibetan in OS X with the modern fonts.

alienvoord said...

10.4 has a Tibetan font. It's in the Character Palette. It has an Uighur (Mongolian) font as well. They are pretty much impossible to use, though.

Tom Gewecke said...

The Tibetan and Mongolian characters you can see in the Character Palette in 10.3 and 10.4 are incorporated in certain Chinese fonts, presumably as a requirement for sale in that country, but are not in fact usable for writing those scripts because the layout tables need to create the correct character combinations have been omitted.

Tashi Joe said...

I am attempting to use the Tibeten font fount in the international characters (flag) icon on my macbook 10.5. I found the keyboard to be missing many of the letters/post/sub scrips needed. can anybody confirm that this alphabet is basically unusable or offer suggestions as to how to be able to type tibetan on a mac?

Tom Gewecke said...

Tashi Joe -- With the Tibertan Qwerty་ or Otani keyboard layout, you get the subscripts by hitting the f key before typing the character. Is it not working for you? Or are you using a different layout?

Vikram Lal said...

Does anybody know how to get the tibetan chandra bindu (forgot the name in Tibetan) on a Mac? (used for Om, Hung, etc)?

Tom Gewecke said...

option shift m in tibetan qwerty

Joseph Garrahan said...

tom, do you know if there are instructions on how to use the keyboard for the mac tibetan fonts? as you can see above I attempted using it years ago with little success. I'd like to try again

Tom Gewecke said...

Joe -- I'll have to look around for any instructions, but it is really pretty simple as far as I know. Just email me the details of the problem. Do you use the Wylie system? tom at bluesky dot org

Joseph Garrahan said...

བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས་
Tom, I never got back to you! sorry. I have been using the Tibetan Querty font since my last post with great success. Thanks so much.
One thing though recently. I discovered that trying to save as a pdf doesn't work properly. I'm trying to print from google docs which saves as a pdf before printing. Do you have any suggestions?

Tom Gewecke said...

Joseph -- email me a screen shot of what is happening. tom at bluesky dot org

Ruth Rickard said...

Hello Tom,

I have used Pages (OSX) with Xenotype fonts and Wylie - in fact I think we have corresponded on some other forum about issues with this. I have not needed to type in Tibetan for some time but although I have not changed my system nor updated Pages from version 4.3, I now find I cannot use Apple's Wylie to type fast the way I am used to. I could make stacks with Xenotype's keyboard but it is cumbersome for me and I wonder if you have any idea what I should do. I didn't want to update Mac OS from 10.8 precisely because the set-up worked, but it now it doesn't.

If you have any ideas I would be grateful indeed. Web pages I have been looking all seem very out of date or unhelpful and the old Tibet Portal which had the original Wylie no longer exists. Oh, and I couldn't get the Querty keyboard to work despite being enabled for Tibetan.

Tom Gewecke said...

I am only using el capitan and pages 5 these days. I could perhaps test these for you if you gave me the wylie keystrokes and a picture of the correct output, but I don't have any older systems. If bodyig 3 keyboards are of any use, I have seen a source at http://www.tibetswiss.ch/download-228.html

Ruth Rickard said...

It wasn't clear whether the comment I made was actually sent - sorry if you get two.

Bod-yig 3 - thanks for the suggestion but all the instructions etc are in Tibetan which I can only copy not read! I do want a specific Wylie keyboard but I just checked my old computer with Snow Leopard and that didn't work either. I don't think I am imagining this. I expected to be able to write the word PADMA using P + D + M where the DM would automatically stack and should look like this: པདྨ

If you find you have no problems with updated OSX and Pages then I might look into updating too, and maybe keep a partition just in case.

Tom Gewecke said...

Apple Wylie seems to work OK for me in El Capitan and Pages 5. To make stacks you use the + key between the letters. If you have more questions, email me: tom at bluesky dot org