Foreign Language Keyboards and Characters

Unless otherwise specified, these instructions are general and should work for any language that the operating system provides for. This includes, but is not limited to Russian, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, and Korean.

Note: Some languages offer more than one keyboard. The QWERTY option given for some languages is a phonetic keyboard and may be easier to use. We suggest selecting both keyboards and trying them out.

If you would like to have a map of the keyboard (so you know which keys produce which characters) and/or you would like a palette of all of the characters available at a given time, follow the instructions for your operating system to enable the On-screen Keyboard.

Instructions for Enabling Foreign Keyboards

Additional Resources


 

Macintosh OS X (10.8 or higher)

For 10.9 and higher:

  1. From the Apple menu (the apple icon on the top left of the screen), choose System Preferences.
  2. Select Keyboard.
  3. Select the Input Sources tab.
  4. Click the "+" button under the list of inputs.
  5. Scroll through the list in the window that opens. Select the language and keyboard you'd like to use and click Add.
  6. Click the checkbox next to Show Input menu in menu bar.

    Note: A US flag should now be visible next to the volume in the top right of the screen. Click on this icon to select a different keyboard. When you want to change back to English, just select the American flag. If the language you would like to use is not selectable from this menu, it means the application you are using does not support typing in this language.
     
  7. To enable the on-screen keyboard:
    1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard (if not already there).
    2. On the Keyboard tab, check the box next to Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar.
    3. Click the flag icon in the upper right of the screen and select Show Keyboard Viewer from the dropdown menu.

For 10.8 through 10.10:

  1. From the Apple menu (the apple icon on the top left of the screen), choose System Preferences.
  2. Select Language & Text.
  3. Select the Input Sources tab.
  4. Scroll through the list and check the language that you would like to set up.
  5. Select the Show Input menu in menu bar checkbox.

    Note: A US flag should now be visible next to the volume in the top right of the screen. Click on this icon to select a different keyboard. When you want to change back to English, just select the American flag. If the language you would like to use is not selectable from this menu, it means the application you are using does not support typing in this language.
     
  6. To enable the on-screen keyboard:
    1. Go to System Preferences > Language & Text (if not already there).
    2. On the Input Sources tab, check the box next to Keyboard & Character Viewer.
    3. Click the flag icon in the upper right of the screen and select Show Keyboard Viewer from the dropdown menu.

 

Windows 7

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel.
  2. Under Clock, Language, and Region, choose Change keyboards or other input methods.
    • Note: If you're using the Control Panel Classic View, double-click on Regional and Language Options and then click the Keyboard and languages tab.
  3. Click on the Change keyboards... button, then click on Add...
  4. Click the Plus sign next to the language(s) you want from the list, then the Plus sign next to Keyboard. Check the box next to the keyboard(s) you want.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Apply.
  7. In the Language Bar tab, click Docked in the taskbar.
  8. Click Apply.
  9. Click OK twice.
  10. You should now see a language bar in the bottom right corner. Change languages by left-clicking on the EN (in the language bar) and choosing a different language.


Enable the on-screen keyboard
The on-screen keyboard provides a map of which keys correspond to which character in a foreign language keyboard. To turn it on,

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Select All Programs > Accessories > Ease of Access > On-Screen Keyboard.

 

Windows XP

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel.
  2. Select Regional and Languages Options.
  3. Click on the Languages tab.
    • Check Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages (for Arabic, Hebrew, Thai,etc)
    • Check Install files for East Asian Languages (for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc)
  4. Click Apply (the files will install).
  5. When asked to restart, click Yes .
  6. When the computer restarts choose Start > Control Panel.
  7. Select Regional and Languages Options .
  8. Click on Add other languages (this will open the Regional and Language Options Control Panel).
  9. In the Text Services and Input section click Details
    1. Click on the Settings tab and then click Add
    2. In the Input Language menu choose the language you want to add
    3. In the Keyboard layout menu choose the keyboard you want to add

      Note: For Japanese, keep the default IME keyboards or Japanese will not work.
       
  10. Click OK and then Apply.
  11. Click on the Language Bar button.
    • If the Language Bar button is grayed out, click on Key Settings... > OK .
  12. Check Show language bar on desktop .
  13. Check Show text labels on language bar .
  14. Check Show additional language bar icons in the task bar .
  15. Click OK.
  16. Click OK again.
  17. Restart the computer.

When the computer restarts...

  • You can change the language toolbar settings by right-clicking on the EN button in the system tray at the bottom right of your desktop.
  • You can change languages by left-clicking on the EN and choosing a different language.


    Note: For East Asian languages you will need to adjust the size of the toolbar to see all of the options. To do this, right-click on the toolbar and select Adjust Language Band Position. You can do this after you switch back to English to shrink the toolbar again.

    Note: To use Japanese Kanjii you must click on the Input Mode button in the toolbar to select which character style you want to type in. Direct input will give you English.

 

Chrome OS (on a Chromebox/Chromebook)

  1. Click your account picture in the Taskbar in the lower-right corner. Select Settings.
  2. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings.
  3. Under Languages, click Language and input settings.
  4. If you don't see your desired language(s) listed, click Add. Click the checkboxes next to any languages you want to use.
  5. Click Ok
  6. You should see US directly to the left of your account picture. Click that, then Click US keyboard in the menu. Select the language you wish to use.
    • Note: You can quickly switch between keyboard languages by pressing Alt + Shift. Press Ctrl + Space to switch to your previous language.


Enable the on-screen keyboard
The on-screen keyboard can help with typing accented and special characters. To turn it on,

  1. Go to Settings. Scroll down and click Show advanced settings.
  2. Under Accessibility, check Enable on-screen keyboard.
  3. You should now see two new icons in the Taskbar: a keyboard to the left of the time and a hand to the left of the current language.
    Screenshot of the Chrome OS Launcher/Taskbar with On-screen Keyboard and Accessibility icons