Macintosh supports typing and a wide variety of languages but you need to activate their keyboards before they can be used.

Activate Keyboards

Mavericks/Yosemite/El Capitan/

The interface for accessing the non-English keyboard has changed as of Mavericks.

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences. This is on the second row.
  2. Click the Keyboards preferences icon on the second row.
    Note: If you clicked Language & Region option, there is a Keyboard Preferences button is at the bottom of the screen.
    Systems Preferences with Keyboard icon circled
  3. In the next window, click the Input Sources tab.
  4. In the next window, click the + key to open available keyboards by language.
  5. Next click Show Input menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  6. Input Sources with US keyboard only activated
    Click the + link at the bottom left to see list of available keyboards.

  7. In the next window scroll to languages you are interested. Highlight any keyboard you want to activate with the mouse, then click the Add key. Repeat as needed for each keyboard.
    Add keyboard window. See text following.
    The Dvorak keyboard highlighted and a preview is shown. Click Add button to add keyboard

Location of Certain Keyboards

  • English has U.S. Extended, Dvorak and keyboards for different countries
  • Others has Unicode Hex Input

Older Systems

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the Text and International icon (or International in OS X 10.5-10.2) on the first row of the Systems Preferences panel.

    10.6 preferences window with language and text icon
    System Preferences Language & Text Option (OS X 10.6)

  3. Click the Input Sources tab or (or Input Menu (OS X 10.5 or earlier ) and check the keyboards you want activated.
    NOTE: If you do not see the keyboard you need to activate, you may need to install them from an OS X CD or download the most recent version of OS X from Apple. Make sure the appropriate Localized Files are checked during the installation set-up wizard.

    screen capture 10.6 Input Source list
    Input Menu listing available keyboards and input palettes in OS X 10.6

Student Computing Labs

For the OS X machines in the Student Computing labs, a number of keyboards have been activated already.

Other keyboards can be activated by following the instructions above, but they must be reactivated every time you log in.

Switch Keyboards

To switch keyboards:

  1. Make sure you have activated all the appropriate keyboards
    following the instructions in the previous section.
  2. Open a software application such as a word processor, spread-sheet or any
    other application in which you need to enter text.
  3. On the upper right portion of the screen, click on the American flag
    icon (U.S. Flag Icon)
    Use the dropdown menu to select a script or language.
  4. The keyboard will be switched and an appropriate font will be selected within the application. A flag icon corresponding to the keyboard will be displayed on the upper right.
  5. To switch back to the U.S. keyboard or to some other keyboard, click on the flag icon on the upper right and select a keyboard from the dropdown menu.

View Keyboard Layouts

Activate in Yosemite Mavericks

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences.
  2. Click the Keyboard option.
  3. In the Keyboard window, check the option Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
    Keyboard preferences

Activate in Older Systems

  1. Go to the Apple menu and open Systems Preferences then International (U.N. flag icon). Check Keyboard Viewer as one the options, then close this window.
    Note: In System 10.6 (Snow Leopard), the Keyboard Viewer is bundled with the Character Palette option.

Use Keyboard Viewer

  1. Open a document in any application, then switch your keyboard by clicking on the American flag icon (U.S. Flag Icon). and using the drop down menu to switch to another keyboard.
  2. Return to the keyboard menu and select Show Keyboard Viewer. A virtual keyboard will open.
    Greek keyboard layout
    Yosemite Keyboard Viewer set to Greek Polytonic. Orange keys are accent keys.
  3. Press the Shift, Option or Shift+Option to see the keyboard layout under those conditions. Hot keys (e.g. accents) may appear in yellow in newer versions.

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Unicode Hex Input

This keyboard allows you to generate many Unicode characters by manually inputting the hexadecimal Unicode entity code.

  1. Make sure you have activated the Unicode Hex Input keyboard. See the activate keyboards section for more details.
    Note: In Mavericks and Yosemite, the Unicode Hex Input is listed under Others in the language category.
  2. Switch keyboards to the Unicode Hex Input from the flag icon dropdown menu on the upper right. If the Unicode Hex Option is grayed out, then you are in an application which does not support this keyboard.
    Note: Most current applications support this keyboard, but some old versions of software may not.
  3. To input a specific character, hold down the option key, then type in the four-digit hexadecimal Unicode value (e.g. 044D = Cyrillic э). Charts listing Unicode values for different scripts are available at

Available Keyboards and Applications

Available Language Input Keyboards

Below is a list of supported languages available in OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Earlier versions of OS X may be missing some utilities. See individual Language pages to see information about different options for each language.

Languages by Region and Script in El Capitan
West Europe Cent Eur/Cyrillic Middle East East Asia South Asia America/Pacific

Western Europe

  • Danish
  • Dutch (incl. Belgian)
  • Faroese
  • Finnish
  • French (incl. AZERTY)
  • German
  • Greek
  • Icelandic
  • Italian
  • Irish
  • Maltese
  • Norwegian (Bokmål)
  • Portuguese
  • Sami (Northern)
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Welsh

Central Europe (Latin)

  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Estonian
  • Georgian
  • Hungarian
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Serbian (Latin)
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian


  • Russian
  • Belarusian
  • Bulgarian
  • Kazakh
  • Macedonian
  • Serbian
  • Ukrainian

Arabic Script

  • Arabic
  • Kurdish (Sorani)
  • Malay (Arabic)
  • Pashto (Afghan)
  • Persian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek (Arabic)
  • Uyghur

Other Scripts

  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani (Latin)
  • Georgian
  • Hebrew
  • Turkish

East Asia

  • Chinese (Simp/Trad)
  • Japanese & Ainu
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese
  • Tibetan

South East Asian

  • Burmese
  • Khmer
  • Malay (Arabic)
  • Thai

South Asian

  • Bengali
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Kannada
  • Malayalam
  • Nepali
  • Oriya
  • Punjabi (Gurmukhi)
  • Urdu
  • Tamil
  • Telugu


  • Cherokee
  • Hawaiian
  • Inukitut


  • Maori
  • Tongan

Table of Version Names

Different viersions of OS X are named after different animals. See table below. The interface for activating keyboard has been evolving between systems, so knowing your system number is important.

OS X Code Names
Version Code Name
10.10 Yosemite
10.9 Mavericks
10.8 Mountain Lion
10.7 Lion
10.6 Snow Leopard
10.5 Leopard
10.4 Tiger
10.3 Panther
10.2 Jaguar

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Keyboard Downloads

Several sites list links to freeware keyboard utilities for languages not supported
by Apple. Thes sites include:

  • Melell – Check your system first to see if the language is supported.
  • Language Geek (Native American & Australian languages)

To use these files, you should install them in the Library/Keyboard Layouts folder (all users) or the ~Library/Keyboard Layouts folder (one user only). Reboot and Activate following the activation instructions.

Read the instructions for each keyboard layout for details on installation and use.

Notes on Where to Install  

  • Installing a keyboard layout in just one user’s folder reduces the risk of damage to a system.
  • However some older versions of OS X only recognized layout installed in the main (all users) library.

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