Sunday, December 10, 2017

MacOS High Sierra: Missing Input Sources and Character Viewers

Quite a few users have reported missing Chinese and other input sources after updating to MacOS 10.13 High Sierra.   I've found that a Safe Boot often fixes this.  If not, Apple has published an article that should do the trick.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Main Page Updated for High Sierra

I have updated the main Multilingual Mac web page to cover MacOS 10.13 High Sierra here.

Comments and corrections welcome.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

iOS 11 Keyboard Layouts

A list of screen and hardware keyboards provided with iOS 11 can be found here. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

iOS 11 Arabic Font Problem

I have seen a number of complaints by Arabic users that the font used in iOS 11 has changed to the nastaliq calligraphy style often found in Urdu text, which they find very hard to read.  A possible fix is to go to Settings > General > Language and make sure that Arabic is higher than Urdu in the list of Preferred Languages.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Useful Resources for Data on Characters, Languages, and Keyboards

The Character Usage Lookup Page will let you find info regarding the characaters used by any particular langauge, or the languages which use any particular character.

The Unicode CLDR Keyboards Database will let you find which keyboard layouts produce which characters for a variety of computer platforms.

Monday, October 2, 2017

MacOS 10.13 High Sierra: New Language Features

So far I have found the following:

+One new system localization -- Hindi

+A nastaliq Arabic font for those who want to use this in Urdu or elsewhere

+New bilingual English dictionaries for Russian and Portuguese

+Caps Lock language switching now works for Greek, Cyrillic, and Armenian (not the case in Sierra)

I don't see any new spellcheckers or new language coverage via keyboards -- Lao and Amharic are still missing, even though Apple does provide fonts for these.

A language setting in the Format preferences, removed in Sierra, is still missing.

MacOS Siri cannot do translation like the iOS version can.

If readers find others, please comment.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Displaying Old Korean

Korean text produced before the orthography reforms of early 20th century can contain various archaic Hangul forms.  Archaic_and_obsolete_letters  Not all fonts will support correct display of these.  Three which do are


A test page which includes these forms and their various combinations can be found here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

iOS 11: New Language Features

+Siri translation from English into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish (beta)

+Hindi and Shanghainese dictation

+New keyboards for Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Georgian, Irish, Kannada, Malayalam, Maori, Odia, Swahili, and Welsh

+English input on the 10-key Pinyin keyboard

+English input on the Japanese Romaji keyboard

+Russian-English bilingual dictionary

+Portuguese-English bilingual dictionary

+Arabic system font support

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MacOS: Reading and Writing Linear B Script

Linear B was used for writing the earliest forms of Greek used by the Mycenaean civilization.

For a Unicode Font, download Aegean from this page.

For a Unicode keyboard, go to this page.

Another input option is a character picker:

For online resources for studying Linear B, see e-ni-jo-te.

(I recommend you not use the old non-Unicode Clark fonts which map Linear B to Latin, as everyone should be using Unicode for text exchange these days) 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New Apple File System: Possible Language Issues

Apple's new APFS file system (replacing HFS+) has been implemented in iOS 10.3 and will also become standard in MacOS 10.13 when it is released this fall.   It changes the way Unicode Normalization is handled for file names, which could have implications for various languages where the same filename can have different forms depending on the normalization applied.

Whether that will matter in practice I don't know, but readers interested in this complex topic may want to have a look at these two articles and their comments:

See this page for updated info from Apple about problems that can arise with file names in iOS during the period before certain normalization issues are fixed via the updating process.

Here is a report of such a problem.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Apple TV To Support Arabic/Hebrew With tvOS 11

According to this article, tvOS 11 will include support for RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew.  This will be welcomed by many users who have been waiting for it for 10 years now.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Better Arabic/Hebrew Support In iWork Apps

The info provided with the iWork app updates released June 13 by Apple says that "improved support for Hebrew and Arabic" is included in Pages and Keynote for MacOS and Keynote for iOS.

I don't know yet what that entails, but it apparently does not include the availability of RTL spreadsheets in Numbers, which many users of these languages have been waiting for.

Hands-On Neural Network Translation

I was intrigued by Apple's announcement last week of its new Core ML system for incorporating trained machine learning models into apps for iOS and MacOS.  Anyone interested in how such models for neural network language translation can be produced may want to check out this Google tutorial.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MacOS: Better Khmer Fonts

If you find that the Khmer fonts supplied by Apple (Khmer, Khmer Sangam) have bugs, try these other ones from SIL.  I think they should also work OK in Word for Mac 2016.

Monday, June 5, 2017

iOS 11: New Language Features

During the WWDC Keynote June 5, Apple announced some new language features that will be available in iOS 11 and the new iPad Pro:

+Siri will include voice translation, starting with English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

+The Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro will be produced in 30 language variations, including Chinese and Japanese.

From a separate source, it appears that iOS finally will have a Persian keyboard (according to this.)

Monday, May 8, 2017

MacOS: Alternative Input Methods for Asian Languages

Some users find Apple's input methods for Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, or Indic Scripts are not to their liking.  Here are some links to alternatives which may be useful:




Indic Scripts:

Suggestions from Readers for others are welcome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

iOS: Alternative Keyboard for Indic Scripts

Users needing an iOS keyboard for typing the scripts used in the languages of India, or transliterations of them, should have a look at Lipikaboard.

Monday, March 27, 2017

MacOS: Language Improvements in 10.12.4

Update 10.12.4, released March 27, 2017, includes the following language related improvements:
  • Adds Dictation support for Shanghainese.
  • Improves right-to-left language support for the Touch Bar, toolbar, and visual tab picker in Safari.

Friday, March 24, 2017

MacOS: AZERTY - Qwerty Command Keyboard

If you use an AZERTY layout to type French, but are more confortable with the QWERTY layout for the Command shortcuts for menu items, you can find a keyboard which implements that here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

MacOS: New Mongolian Script Keyboard

A new keyboard for typing the Todo (Clear)version of Mongolian used in Oirat and traditional Kalmyk is available on this page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

MacOS: Romanian Pro Keyboard Layout

Users needing a Romanian Programmers keyboard layout can find a good one on this page.

Monday, February 27, 2017

MacOS 10.12 Sierra: Customizing Character Picker

Users trying to customize the Character Picker/Accent Menu via the methods that have worked since OS X 10.7 (reported here) will find things have changed in Sierra.  For updated instructions see this page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Apple Support Communities Now In French and German

The Apple forums (Apple Support Communities - ASC) now have French and German versions, in addition to those for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese established earlier:



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Word Mac 2016 Support for Indic Scripts

Word Mac 2011 had essentially no support for Indic scripts, and we always recommended people use a different app for working in them.  But the 2016 version (at least the latest update 15.30) seems much improved:

+The Tools/Language menu lets you mark text as Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Thai for spellcheck purposes.

+The standard MS fonts are provided for Devanagari, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Tibetan, and Thai.

+Apple fonts are recognized for Sinhala, Bangla, Oriya, Gurmukhi, Myanmar, Khmer, and Lao.

I don't know whether input and display of all these scripts, which often require reordering and complex ligatures,  works correctly -- that will need a lot of testing.

Here is a Test Page with a PDF version of a .docx file containing a paragraph in each of the Indic scripts.  I do not know them well enough to tell if there are position, ligature, or other errors.  Readers who do know them are invited to comment on whether Word is displaying them correctly.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Main Multilingual Mac Page Updated for Sierra

The main Unleash Your Multilingual Mac page has finally been updated for MacOS 10.12 Sierra.  Comments from readers about errors and omissions are welcome.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Emoji Notes

Emoji symbols were first added to Unicode in its version 6.0 of October 2010, and Apple incorporated font support in iOS and OS X 10.7 shortly thereafter.  Since then the number of emojis approved by Unicode has grown regularly:  In versión 9.0 there are well over 1000.   To ask for a new emoji to be encoded, the place to go is here.

Useful references for the range of encoded characters include emojipedia and the Unicode Full Emoji List.

When using these characters, it's helpful to be aware that :

A) Apple's Color Emoji Font embodies special technology and may not work in all apps.   Alternative black/white fonts which should work everywhere include Symbola.

B) The details of how emoji's look depend on the special fonts used to display them on each device.  So Windows, Android, and Linux users may not see exactly the same picture that you do when you put them in your emails, messages, or web pages.

C) Unicode has devised some fairly complex coding mechanisms to implement emojis for flags, skin tones, and other variables.  For further info about these see Unicode TR #51.  A Unicode test page for some of these mechanisms is here.

D) Instructions for Emoji input in MacOS are here.  For iOS they are here.  For a way to input emoji directly via the Unicode Hex  keyboard, see this page.

VoiceOver Language Support

For info on the languages supported by Apple's VoiceOver feature in MacOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, see this page.

Friday, January 27, 2017

MacOS: New Albanian Keyboard

A poster in the Apple Support Communities (ASC) has recently offered a new keyboard layout for Albanian, which can be found at this page.

Language and Country Availability of Apple Features

For those wanting to check whether specific features of MacOS or iOS are available in a certain languages or countries, the pages below may be useful:



Thursday, January 26, 2017

MacOS Sierra: Set Format Language Different Than System

MacOS 10.12 Sierra deletes the System Preferences >  Language & Region > Advanced > General > Format Language selection previously available.  Many users found this useful.  For a workaround to get the capability back via a terminal command, see the first item in this article. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Word Mac 2016 Now Does Chinese Phonetic Guides

For some time Word Mac 2016 has only been able to do Japanese phonetic guides (furigana) automatically.  Chinese phonetic guides did not work, you had to enter them manually.  But testing this on my most recent version, 15.30, I find that Chinese does work now.  When exactly MS fixed this problem I don't know.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MacOS/OS X: Bug in Apple Sinhala Qwerty Keyboard

A poster in the Apple Support Communities (ASC) has pointed out that the Sinhala QWERTY input source is missing the character ඳ (U+0DB3).  This should be on option-D, but instead that produces ඦ which is already on option-J.  A revised .keylayout file with the right character at option-D is available here.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

OS X: New Tajik Keyboard

Thanks to Iskandar Rafiev, there is a new phonetic keyboard layout available for Tajik at