Saturday, December 29, 2012

Info On Apple-Provided Fonts

Apple currently publishes two notes listing the fonts provided with its products:

For OS X 10.8, HT5379

For iOS 6, HT5484

Regarding conditions on their use, the OS X License reads as follows:

E. Fonts. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, you may use the fonts included with the Apple Software to display and print content while running the Apple Software; however, you may only embed fonts in content if that is permitted by the embedding restrictions accompanying the font in question. These embedding restrictions can be found in the Font Book/Preview/Show Font Info panel.

Paper Version of Unicode Standard Again Available

Unicode stopped publishing the hard copy edition of the Standard after Version 5.0, but has recently again made the core specification available via Lulu.  No code charts, but nearly 700 pages of useful info, nice quality paperback, reasonable price.  If interested, see this page.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Multilingual Mac Web Site Updated

I've recently updated and simplified the reference web site, Unleash Your Multilingual Mac.  Comments and corrections by viewers are always welcome.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bugs in OS X Khmer and Myanmar Keyboard Layouts

Languages like Thai, Khmer, and Myanmar do not separate words with spaces, so achieving correct line endings can be a challenge.  Normally this is done automatically via a special dictionary or by the author typing a zero width space (ZWSP, U+200B) between each word.

While OS X has a Thai line breaking dictionary and includes ZWSP at Shift + space in the keyboard layout, neither of these have been provided for Khmer and Myanmar.  This makes the keyboard layouts included for these scripts kind of useless for some important purposes. 

For Khmer you can try instead the SBBIC keyboard.  This has ZWSP on the normal space key. Also you can get here a version of Apple's keyboard I modified to behave this way.

For Myanmar try the AviUnie layout..  It has ZWSP on the comma key.  A modified version of Apple's layout, with ZWSP on the space key, can be had here.

It also looks like the font Khmer Sangam cannot handle certain superscript combinations, so you need to use Khmer MN instead.  Both of Apple's Khmer fonts have the wrong glyph for nyo+coeng+nyo. An alternative is the font Khmer OS.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Emoji Name List

Both OS X and iOS have a very large number of Unicode Emoji characters available, either via a dedicated keyboard layout (iOS) or the Character Viewer (OS X).  For anyone interested in the formal names of all of them, which may indicate what they are intended to signify,  I have recently found a useful list here.

It is best to use Safari, as I think other browsers cannot yet handle the Apple Color Emoji font.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Unicode Bug in Pages

A poster in the ASC forums recently reminded me of a weird long-standing bug in the Pages app :  You cannot directly input the Unicode characters ZWJ (zero width joiner, 200D) or ZWJN (zero width non-joiner, 200C).  When you try to do so, they simply don't ever appear in the text.  I don't know of any other app which has this problem, which was noted in this blog back in 2008.

The main result of this bug is that there are certain character sequences used languages which employ the Arabic, S. Asian, and SE Asian scripts which cannot be written properly. A particularly notable example is the "Sri" in the name of the country Sri Lanka.  In its native Sinhala script, this is written with the sequence 0DC1 0DCA 200D 0DBB 0DD3.  When the 200D is left out, the result is wrong as shown here :

A possible workaround is to write your text which needs these characters in TextEdit and copy/paste into Pages.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Mongolian Keyboard Layout

Thanks to the firm Mountain Edge, a new Mongolian Cyrillic keyboard layout is available for OS X.  It follows the MS Windows pattern and can be obtained here.

Those who prefer a QWERTY pattern layout can download mine from

Another one is available at this page.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bugs in Apple's Telugu Font

A contributor to the Apple Support Communities has pointed out that the Telugu Sangam font provided by Apple in iOS and OS X has incorrect characters.  Preferably it should not be used for that language.  In particular the syllables "ho," "hoo," and "so" are wrong.  Telugu MN Bold has similar problems. Until Apple fixes these or replaces them with a better font, you should use Telugu MN Regular or download the alternative Ramaneeya.

(Unfortunately adding fonts to iOS devices is not yet possible.)

Thanks to Appaji Ambarisha Darbha for that font and the details on the wrong characters.

I notice that similar bugs in the Malayalam font described here have not yet been fixed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Braille Input Apps Available

For some time now there has been no way to use the standard keyboard to input Braille via the 6-key Perkins Brailler system -- the previously available apps had never been upgraded for OS X or Intel machines.  This has now been remedied thanks to Ethervision's Pro and Student Braille Writer for Mac OS.

For the iPad the same company has Braille Pad.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Myanmar/Burmese Bug in iOS 6

It's been reported in the Apple discussions, and I have verified it myself, that trying to view Unicode Myanmar/Burmese webpages, emails, etc. in iOS 6 can result in nasty freezes of the app being used, not always easy to recover from.  I'd recommend avoiding this script until Apple has a chance to fix the problem.

Note that iOS doesn't itself have a Myanmar font, so normally if you go to a site in this language you would only see squares, even if Safari did not freeze up.  But there are various apps that include a Unicode Myanmar font which let users read this language.

iOS 5 apparently did not have this problem (though I cannot test that any more).

I have seen a similar reports for the Khmer script and for the Thaana/Divehi script (used in the Maldives).

NOTE:  This bug was fixed with iOS 6.1 released Jan. 28, 2013.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

iBookstore Adds Language Support

The latest iTunes Producer Guide, version 2.8, indicates that a number of new languages are now supported by iBooks and the iBookstore using the ePub 3 format.  iBooks 3 and iOS 6 are required.  These are:

Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, Hebrew, Japanese, Khmer, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tajik, Urdu, Uyghur, and Uzbek

(Unfortunately neither Pages nor iBooks Author can do the vertical layout and phonetic guides used in Chinese/Japanese books, and both have bugs with RTL scripts that make them normally unsuitable for Arabic, Dari, Hebrew, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Sindhi, Urdu, Uzbek, and Uyghur.

Some info on creating ePub 3 with vertical text is at

2/16/2013:  I have reports that despite what is written in the iTunes Producer Guide, the iBookstore will still not accept books in Arabic and other RTL scripts, even if the stated conditions are met. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

iBooks 3 Adds Support for Chinese/Japanese/Korean

At the Apple event Oct. 23, 2012, a new version 3 of iBooks was announced, including vertical layout and correct page turning for CJK scripts.

Support for embedded fonts has apparently also been added, as this feature has been put into a new version 2 of iBooks Author.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

OS X 10.8.2: Japanese Display Issue Addressed

Apple has issued a supplemental update to 10.8.2 which "Resolves and issue that may cause certain Japanese characters to appear incorrectly in Mail."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

iOS 6 Has New Reference Dictionaries

I have found that iOS 6 will download reference dictionaries for Spanish,  French and German if you hit the "define" item for a word in those languages.   This feature is buried in the release notes.  There is also a Chinese dictionary, as mentioned on Apple's "new feature" page.

OS X 10.8.2: New Language Features

In this update released Sept. 19, 2012, Apple has added a French module to and added Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Korean, Canadian English, Canadian French, and Italian to the language coverage of the Dictation feature.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

iOS 6 Language Features Published

(The same as OS 5 except for Siri, I believe)

Language Support

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Keyboard Support

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese - Simplified (Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke), Chinese - Traditional (Handwriting, Pinyin, Zhuyin, Cangjie, Stroke), French, French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German (Germany), German (Switzerland), Italian, Japanese (Romaji, Kana), Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Emoji, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic/Latin), Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Dictionary Support (enables predictive text and autocorrect)

English (U.S.), English (UK), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, French (Canadian), French (Switzerland), German, Italian, Japanese (Romaji, Kana), Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Siri Languages

English (U.S., UK, Canada, Australia), Spanish (U.S., Mexico, Spain), French (France, Canada, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy, Switzerland), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Mainland China, Taiwan), Cantonese (Hong Kong)

New software keyboard layouts have been added for German, French, Turkish, Catalan, Arabic, and Icelandic.  A full list is at this page.

This page gives info on which iOS 6 features are available in which country:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Character Map App

Many users have been annoyed by Apple's deletion of the View = Glyph feature in the revised Character Viewer app of OS X 10.7 and later, which made it impossible to directly view and input the entire glyph catalog of individual fonts.   Ultra Character Map restores that capability:

Unfortunately, for glyphs without Unicode code points, input is limited to a graphic of the glyph, rather than a normal "character".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

OS X 10.8.1: Chinese Input Issue Addressed

Apple has released an update to Mountain Lion, 10.8.1, which includes a fix to "Address an issue that could cause the system to become unresponsive when using Pinyin input".

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

OS X 10.8: Chinese Text Converter Problem

Many users are finding that after upgrading to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, the service for converting between Traditional and Simplified Chinese no longer works.  For a fix see this post in the Apple Support Community.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: New Language Features

OS X 10.8 was released 7/25/2012.  It has no new OS/App localizations, keyboards for additional languages, or spellcheck dictionaries, but the 3 new reference dictionaries (German, Spanish, Simplified Chinese) are most welcome.  Plus there are a lot of new features for Chinese users, the details of which can be found at

Note that the new Chinese fonts are "off" by default.  When you "enable" them, the OS will ask you to download them.  Also you may need to switch system preferences/language & text/region to China temporarily to see the new Chinese services in system preferences/mail, contacts & calendars and in app menus.

Dictation is available in English (US, UK, Australia), French, German, and Japanese.  Any comments on how well it works in these languages would be welcome.

(I'm a little surprised there are no keyboards for Ethiopic/Amharic or Lao, since the requisite fonts were added already in 10.7)

Monday, June 11, 2012

iOS 6 Language Features Announced at WWDC 6/11

Siri languages expanded to include English, Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, German, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean.

New Chinese Features: "With precision text input, a comprehensive up-to-date Chinese dictionary, and handwriting recognition support for over 30,000 Chinese characters, iOS 6 gives Chinese speakers more features than ever. You can mix full and abbreviated Pinyin and even type English words in a Pinyin sentence without switching keyboards. And when you add words to your personal dictionary, iCloud makes them available on all your devices. Baidu is a built-in option in Safari, and you can share videos directly to Youku and Tudou. You can also post to Sina Weibo from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari, and Game Center.."

(iOS 6 to be released 9/19/2012)

OS X 10.8 Language Features Announced at WWDC 6/11

New modules for German, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese

Dictation in English (U.S., UK, and Australia), French, German, and Japanese

Lots of things for Chinese, including improved input methods and 8 new fonts.  For details see

Chinese Features

(OS X 10.8 to be released in July)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Diacritic Variations in Polytonic Greek

A poster in the Apple forums recently asked how he could get a particular form of the circumflex/perispomoni accent to appear in his ancient Greek text.  There are namely two common variations, one looks like a tilde and one like an inverted breve, and he needed the latter.

It turns out that the form of this diacritic for Greek depends on the font.  Of those which cover this range that come with OS X 10.7, Arial Unicode, Geneva, Helvetica, and Times have the inverted breve form, while the rest (Arial, Courier New, Helvetica Neue, Lucida Grande, Menlo, Microsoft Sans, Palatino, Tahoma, Times New Roman) use the tilde.

For some more info, see Section 1.2 of

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Font With New Turkish Lira Symbol

Thanks to Michael Everson, there is now a font available for those who need to display/print the new Turkish Lira symbol.  See

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bug In Apple Malayalam Fonts

A poster in the Apple discussions has pointed out the neither of the two fonts provided by Apple for the Malayalam script in OS X and iOS display the correct glyphs for the yy and vv consonant clusters, which are supposed to represent the second member by a small triangle under the first character.

To get correct display in OS X you will have to use the font sold by XenoTypeTech or the Rachana font from

(Unfortunately adding fonts to iOS devices is not yet possible).

PS There appears to be another bug with incorrect display when two viramas are typed in succession (or the lack of a ZWNJ on the keyboard to create the equivalent effect).

12/3/12  These bugs have not been fixed as of 10.8.2

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fixing Custom "English" Region Settings

English speakers living in countries where the native language is something else often wish to have their System Preferences/Language & Text/Formats/Region set to a mixed value, such as "Italian (English)."   While this is normally possible when you first set up your OS, such a setting will disappear if you switch it to something else, so you cannot get it back directly.

In such a case, try opening and inputting the command

defaults write ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences AppleLocale en_IT

Of course you will need to change the IT for Italian to whatever country you are aiming for.

Fixes For Keyboard Layout Issues When Running Windows on a Mac

If you run Windows on your Mac via Bootcamp or a virtual machine, you may have noticed that Mac and PC keyboard layouts can be quite different for some languages. Unfortunately keyboard layouts that allow Windows to use Mac keyboards are rare.

Here are two that I know of so far:

Arabic (Mac)
British English (Mac)

If anyone knows of others, please chime in.

The tool for making Windows keyboards that act like Mac versions is the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A New Way To Make Custom Keyboard Layouts

An earlier article described how you can customize the new Character Picker introduced with OS X 10.7 Lion, so that the popup menu that appears when you hold down a key can contain whatever characters you want.

This feature strikes me as more revolutionary that it might first appear. A custom popup menu can also contain combining diacritics (Unicode block 0300 - 036F). That means you can set up a single key which, when held down, will let you add any arbitrary diacritic(s) to any base letter you have just typed. This has the potential to be a lot easier than the usual US Extended and other layouts with their complex systems of option and option + shift shortcuts. Perhaps the use of those modifier keys to create special characters can be done away with altogether.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Resources for Cuneiform Language Work

These two pages give up-to-date font and keyboard layout resources for OS X for those working with Cuneiform script and/or its Latin transliteration:

For inputting Cuneiform from the keyboard:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

OS X 10.7 Lion: Customizing Character Picker

Over at a poster has figured out how to customize the popup menu of special characters that appears when you hold down a key in Lion. The list of characters in that menu is given, for example, in the Keyboard-en.plist found in System/Library/Input Methods/

Access to Contents can be obtained by selecting the app icon and doing Control +click/Show Package Contents. Logout/login should be done after editing the .plist.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Windows Font and Script Support

Of possible interest for those using Windows on their Mac, I recently came across this page which provides info on the font and script support of various Windows versions, including the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview:

Monday, March 12, 2012

iOS 5.1 Adds Language Features

iOS 5.1 released March 7 adds some new language features, but only for certain devices: the iPad 3 gets dictation in US/UK/Australian English, French, German, and Japanese. The iPhone 4S gets Siri functions in Japanese in addition to the languages provided earlier (English, French, German).

I don't have devices with these features, but I understand that for Siri the language is selected in Settings / General / Siri / Language.  Also the keyboard should be set to the language being spoken.  Internet access is required.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mountain Lion: Special Chinese Features

Today Apple posted info regarding the features of the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion, which includes the following:

"All-new features for China

It’s a new Mac experience in China. OS X Mountain Lion brings all-new support for many popular Chinese services. And they’re easy to set up. Mail, Contacts, and Calendar work with QQ, 163, and 126. Baidu, the leading Chinese search provider, is a built-in option in Safari. The video-sharing websites Youku and Tudou are included in the new Share Sheets, so users in China can easily post videos to the web. They can also blog with Sina weibo, the popular microblogging service. And with improved text input, typing in Chinese is easier, faster, and more accurate."

Engadget adds some more detail in its description: "including better word and phrase suggestions, autocorrect, enhanced handwriting recognition and the ability to type in English without changing keyboard settings. "

Friday, February 3, 2012

iBookstore Language Support

The latest version of the iBookstore Publisher User Guide, dated 1/19/12, has the same language exclusions as the one from 2010:

"What languages does the iBookstore NOT support?

At this time, the iBookstore does not support the following languages: Persian, Old (ca.600- 400 B.C.), Persian, Samaritan Aramaic, Amharic, Arabic, Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Imperial Aramaic (700-300 BCE), Burmese, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Judeo-Persian, Judeo- Arabic,Central Khmer, Lao, and Mon-Khmer languages."

I wonder if this is really accurate. If readers find books in the store in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, or Hebrew, I would welcome hearing about it.

PS I have personally found a lot of Chinese books in the store, so clearly that language is in fact supported.

For updated info, see here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

OS X 10.7.3 Adds 8 New Localizations

Catalan, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Slovak, Thai, and Ukrainian

Wow, that raises the total from 22 to 30.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New iBook Author App Has Same RTL Bugs as iWork

My initial tests indicate that the new iBook Author app announced by Apple 1/19/12 has the same bugs with Arabic/Hebrew input as the iWork apps and iWeb have always had. There is no setting for "writing direction" (such as found in TextEdit) and the cursor doesn't work properly, so that editing via insertion/deletion is pretty much impossible.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Korean Apple Support Community Available

A new Korean version of the Apple discussion forums (known formally as ASC -- Apple Support Communities) has become available at

As far as I know, until now the only other non-English forum run by Apple was that for Japanese: