Wednesday, August 14, 2019

MacOS: Using Two Keyboards With Different Layouts

If you want to use two keyboards and have the mac automatically switch input sources depending on which one is active, try this app.

Monday, July 29, 2019

MacOS: US Keyboard Layout With Tilde Under ESC On ISO Keyboard

Users who have to switch from the standard US ANSI keyboard to the European ISO version, which has an additional key between Shift and Z, are sometimes annoyed because the Tilde character moves from under ESC to that extra key.  Here is a custom keyboard layout which puts Tilde back under ESC.

MacOS: New Slovenian Keyboard Layouts

The poster mitjam in the Apple Support Communities has created two custom Slovenian keyboard layouts which readers who use that language may find useful.

Slovenian - @, which is equal to original mac Slovenian one, except there are exchanged key combinations for characters @ and ™. You get '@' with keys ⌥ + 2.

Slovenian - PC, which is a mac Slovenian keyboard layout, useful for Slovenian PC keyboard. The basis is original mac Slovenian layout, whereas there are visible engraved characters from PC keyboard (that are different from Slovenian Mac layout) appropriately attached to particular key combinations. And keyboard is QWERTZ instead of QWERTY, to correspond to PC layout.

You can get these here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MacOS: Armenian Phonetic Keyboard

For users wishing to supplement the Armenian keyboards supplied by Apple with a "phonetic" version like the one that comes with Windows, here is a source.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

iOS: Custom Keyboard Layouts

While MacOS has had apps enabling ordinary users to easily make custom keyboard layouts (e.g. Ukelele) for a long time already,  the same is not true for iOS.   Users still have to rely on apps produced by developers and offered via the app store.  Below is some info on how these can be made by people with the necessary skills.  The first link relates to making files for the Keyman app, which have to then be compiled on a Windows machine.  The other 3 are tutorials for iOS programmers.

These links are only for screen keyboards.  Development of hardware keyboard layouts remains a mystery.

If you can make do with somewhat more limited custom input functionality, have a look at Unicode Pad Pro.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fix for "Wrong" Chinese Character Display

In a recent discussion in the Apple Support Community (ASC) a user complained that a certain Chinese character was not being displayed correctly.  As it turned out, it was one of those where the Chinese and Japanese forms are quite different, and his phone was displaying the Japanese version.  This is caused by the device using a Japanese font, instead of a Chinese one, whioh will happen if Japanese is higher than Chinese in the Preferred Languages list.  The particular character was the one for "drink":

For other examples of characters where this can occur, see the chart labeled "Same code point, different language tags" on this page.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Main Page Updated for Mojave

I have updated the main Multilingual Mac page to cover MacOS 10.14 Mojave here.

Comments and Corrections Welcome

MacOS 10.14 Mojave: Fonts and User Guide

Apple's list of fonts included in Mojave can be found here.

Also available is an online User Guide.

And a list of Basic Support Articles for using languages.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

MacOS: Typing Kurdish

A poster in the Apple Support Communities (ASC) has pointed out that the Kurdish input source provided with MacOS does not have the mapping officially promoted by the Kurdish Regional Government.  For one that does conform to this, go here.  Another version can be found on this page.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

MacOS 10.14 Mojave: Japanese Input

One of the new features in MacOS 10.14 Mojave is supposed to be "romanized keyboard input for Japanese" or "romanized English input for Japanese Keyboard".

I had a hard time figuring out what this referred to, but thanks to info provided by Magnus Lewan it appears to be a feature making it easier to type English words in the middle of Japanese text.  Some explanation in Japanese is here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

iOS 12: New Language Features

+New definition dictionary for Hebrew, and bilingual dictionaries for Arabic/English and Hindi/English.

+Siri translation of phrases in more languages, with support for over 40 language pairs

+More natural and expressive voice for Irish English, S. African English, Danish, Norwegian, Cantonese, and Mandarin (Taiwan).

Comments from readers welcome regarding any others.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Word Communication Languages

Some fascinating maps of the languages used in international communications are available at

Friday, June 15, 2018

MacOS Mojave 10.14: Possible New Language Features

From the Apple site:

Mac is more fluent than ever.  MacOS Mojave adds UK English, Australian English, Canadian French, and Traditional Chinese for Hong Kong language options; improved maps for China; and romanized keyboard input for Japanese.

Monday, April 9, 2018

MacOS: Fixing Mixed Localizations

A good number of users have been reporting that their user interface is showing some menus or dialogues in two different languages.   A possible fix for this can be found on this page.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

iOS 11.3: New Language Features

  • Adds two new Shuangpin keyboard layouts
  • Adds support for connected hardware keyboards using the Turkish F keyboard layout
  • Improves Chinese and Japanese keyboards for better reachability on 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch devices
  • Fixes an issue that could cause the Thai keyboard to incorrectly switch to the numeric layout when in landscape mode
  • Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    Numbers App Gets Right - to - Left Tables for Arabic/Hebrew

    Numbers 5.0 released by Apple March 27 finally includes a setting for "Table Direction" which lets Arabic/Hebrew users start spreadsheets which read from right to left in column order.

    Sunday, February 11, 2018

    MacOS: Windows US International Keyboard

    The US International keyboard layout used in Windows differs considerably from Apple's US International PC layout on the option/alt level.  You can get a test version of one for Mac which conforms to the Windows layout here.

    Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    iOS: Screen Keyboard with Full Hardware Layout

    Among the many 3rd party screen keyboards available for iOS, I recently found one called PADKEYS that imitates the normal hardware keyboard layout, with a number/punctuation row at the top, an option key for symbols and accents,  cursor keys, etc.  Covers English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    MacOS Keyboard Language Switching Bug

    In MacOS 10.13.2, it appears that you cannot switch directly from Chinese/Japanese/Korean to Cyrillic/Arabic/Hebrew/Greek keyboard layouts.  In order to get the correct results, you must first switch to US or another Latin input source.

    It's possible other keyboards are involved, but these are the ones where I have seen complaints and tested myself.

    Hopefully this bug will be fixed in a future update.

    (Appears to be fixed in 10.13.4)

    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: