Saturday, July 30, 2016

OS X: Typing Lepcha/Róng

Lepcha is a minority language of the Himalayas which has its own script.  A newly developed OS X kit for this language can be obtained at

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

OS X: ABC Extended Keyboard Layout Capabilities

Apple’s ABC Extended keyboard layout ((formerly called "US Extended") lets you type a vast number of accented and other special latin characters.  The standard reference for its codes is here.  Unfortunately this reference is missing the following deadkey shortcuts which have been added at some point in recent years.  

+Option Shift  period:  Characters with hooks:  Ɓ ɓ Ɗ ɗ Ɲ ɲ ñ Ƴ ƴ‸

+Option Shift semicolon:  A variety of phonetic symbols like ə ŋ ɣ ȝ

+Option Shift g:  Characters with circumflex below.

+Option Shift f:  Characters with tilde below.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

OS X: Typing Cantonese

Apple’s Chinese input methods for OS X do not yet include one for Cantonese.  Users who need that can check out these options:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

iOS 10: New Language Features

According to reports, iOS 10, to be released later this year, will include:

+New Reference Dictionaries:  Danish, Traditional Chinese, Dutch-English, Italian-English

+Multilingual Spellcheck (currently iOS can only spellcheck the language of the currently active keyboard).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

iOS Update 9.3: New Language Features

The 9.3 update to iOS released March 21 includes two language improvements:

+addition of Spanish (Latin America) to the system language choices

+SIRI support for Finnish, Hebrew, and Malay

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Office For Mac Now Officially Supports Arabic/Hebrew

MS has announced that as of its March update (15.20 for Word), RTL support is included in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

For best results, use one of the Apple Hebrew/Arabic keyboards.  Some users report that 3rd party keyboards do not work right.

Welcome news after 15 years of requests.  Note the new paragraph direction buttons:

Reports from readers about how well it works in Word or other apps are welcome.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Apple Opens Spanish and Portuguese Support Communities

For the new Spanish language Support Community, go to

For Portuguese, go to

Up until now there have only been ASC's for English, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Word/Mac 2016 RTL Support Seems Much Improved

While playing with the latest update for Word for Mac 2016, 15.19.1, I thought the level of support for Arabic/Hebrew seemed considerably better.  Not only are Arabic characters connected, but the cursor starts at the right and moves properly along with the text, changing fonts doesn't seem to cause problems, punctuation goes in the right place, vowels work, text is inserted where the author expects, etc.

So far there is still no direction control button or menu, and copy/paste from other sources may result in incorrect word order.  Also changing the color of the text can mess up chracter order.

I've seen rumors that the next update, 15.20 is supposed to have additional improvements and fixes.

As my knowledge of Arabic/Hebrew is extremely limited, I'd be grateful for comments from readers with better capabilities regarding the usability of this app for such scripts. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Keyboard Resource for OS X

Keyman, which has long helped Windows users add special keyboards to their machines, is now available in a beta version for Mac.  The app required for users to make custom keyboards themselves is still only for Windows, but the OS X version of Keyman Desktop lets you download a large number of keyboards from the existing Keyman and SIL libraries.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Apple Watch Language Capabilities

The Apple Watch uses a version of OS X (watchOS) which has different language capabilities than Mac OS X or iOS. Localizations for the menus and dialogues (set using the iPhone Apple Watch app via the menu My Watch > General > Language) are English (U.S.), English (UK), English (Australia), English (India), Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), French (France), French (Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Traditional, Hong Kong), Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Thai, Turkish, Finnish, Indonesian, Norwegian, Polish, Arabic, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Malay, and Vietnamese.

Languages available for dictation, Siri, and Smart Replies may be somewhat different.

This page provides instructions on how to adjust the dictation language of the Watch.

This article provides some info on how watchOS features have evolved.

(Note:  I don't have a Watch and Apple's published info is only fragmentary.  Comments and additional info from readers is welcome)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

iOS 9 Hardware Keyboard Layouts

When using a hardware keyboard with the iOS 9 device, you need to go into Settings > General > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboards and match the layout with whatever your keyboard's key printing is.  Unfortunately Apple supplies only a limited selection of such layouts, so it's possible an exact match may not be possible.  For example, if your keyboard requires the British PC layout, you are out of luck.   I think only one normal iOS keyboard has no hardware layout at all:  Tamil.  

As far as I know, 3rd party keyboards do not include hardware layouts.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Confusing Name Changes in OS X

I've run into several people in the Apple Support Communities confused by recent name changes implemented by Apple.  These are

+Starting with OS X 10.10.3, the standard menu item for many years called "Edit > Special Characters" is now called "Edit > Emoji & Symbols"

+Starting with OS X 10.11.0,  the input source for many years called "US Extended" is now called "ABC Extended".

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

WatchOS 2.1: New Language Features

Update 2.1 to WatchOS released December 8 includes improved language support and bug fixes as described below:

iOS 9.2: New Language Features

The 9.2 update to iOS released December 8 includes the following language fixes and added features:

- Improved punctuation input on the 10-key Chinese (Pinyin & Stroke) keyboards with new expanded view of punctuation symbols and better predictions 
- Fixing an issue on Cyrillic keyboards where caps lock would be enabled when typing in URL or email fields 
- Siri support for Arabic (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Classic Mongolian Script Input Method

Users needing to input Classic Mongolian script, which has some features that are quite complex, should check out Richard Ishida's Mongolian Picker.  Some info on its use is available at his blog.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Multilingual Mac Web Page Updated for El Capitan

The main Multilingual Mac Web Page has been updated to reflect OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

If readers find any errors, let me know via the comments or email.

Friday, October 16, 2015

iWork Apps Language Improvements

Apple released updates to its iWork apps for iOS, Mac, and iCloud on October 15, and info on the added features can be found here.

It looks like most apps got improved support for bidirectional scripts, though it's not clear what that involves.

The apps for iCloud are no longer "beta" and have a major expansion in their language support, which now covers  U.S. English, French, German, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Polish, Traditional Chinese, and Korean.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Uzbek Cyrillic

Users needing an Uzbek Cyrillic keyboard for OS X should try this page.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

OS X 10.11 El Capital: Customizing Character Picker

Users trying to customize the Character Picker feature via the methods that have worked since OS X 10.7 (reported here ) will find that it doesn't work in El Capitan.  First you will have to deactivate the SIP (System Integrity Protection).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

OS X 10.11 El Capitan: New Language Features

El Capitan was released 9/30/15 and appears to have the following main new language features:

+Spell check added for Norwegian, Finnish, and Korean

+Reference dictionaries added for Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, French-English, German-English

+Language keyboard added for Tongan (but surprisingly still none for Lao or Amharic, for which specific fonts have long been installed by default).

+Arabic/Hebrew dictation

+Improved Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Hindi input systems

+No new system localizations.

Apple has published some info for  JapaneseChinese, and International.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

iOS 9: Language Switching with Bluetooth Keyboard

It appears that with iOS 9 Apple has changed the standard hardware keyboard shortcut for switching among keyboard layouts.  Instead of the Command + Space used forever by earlier versions of OS X and  iOS, it is now Control + Space.

(This is now also the default shortcut for keyboard switching in OS X  10.11)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

iOS 9 Language Support

From the tech specs for the iPad Mini 4 released today:

    Language support:

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

  • QuickType keyboard support:

  • English (Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK, U.S.), Chinese - Simplified (Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke), Chinese - Traditional (Cangjie, Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke, Sucheng, Zhuyin), French (Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), Italian, Japanese (Kana, Romaji), Korean, Spanish (Mexico, Spain), Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Emoji, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Gujarati, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi (Devanagari, Transliteration), Hinglish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic, Latin), Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese 

  • QuickType keyboard support with predictive input:

  • English (Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK, U.S.), Chinese (Simplified, Traditional), French (Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish (Mexico, Spain), Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Thai, Turkish

  • Dictation languages:

  • English (Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, UK, U.S.), Spanish (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, U.S.), French (Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy, Switzerland), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Mainland China, Taiwan), Cantonese (Hong Kong), Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch (Belgium, Netherlands), Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Swedish, Turkish, Thai, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

  • Siri languages:

  • English (Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, U.S.), Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.), French (Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy, Switzerland), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Mainland China, Taiwan), Cantonese (Hong Kong), Swedish (Sweden), Dutch (Belgium, Netherlands), Norwegian (Norway), Russian (Russia), Turkish (Turkey), Thai (Thailand), Portuguese (Brazil)

  • Definition dictionary support:

  • English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

  • Bilingual dictionary support:

  • Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish

  • Spell check:

  • English (Australia, Canada, UK, U.S.), French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Russian, Swedish, Turkish

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Automating Use Of Different Layouts With Different Hardware Keyboards

Users who would like to try having their keyboard layout switch automatically depending on which of two hardware keyboards they are using (e.g. a Macbook's internal keyboard or another one), should have a look at these possible solutions using the Karabiner app.

Word For Mac Now Does Connected Arabic

After applying an update of 8/11/2015, my Word for Mac 2016 suddenly displays connected Arabic script in a new document (not a doc created by Windows Word).  Is this for real?  It's been 14 years folks are waiting.

I'd welcome reports from readers regarding how complete this new support is.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Word For iOS Updated to Support Arabic, Hebrew, and Thai

Version 1.11 of MS Word for iOS, issued 7/24/15, adds support for editing bi-directional and complex scripts, namely Arabic, Hebrew, and Thai.

I wonder if this indicates MS Word for Mac might soon get this as well?

A doc created in the new Word for iOS and sent to my Mac opened with correct Arabic display in Word for Mac 2011 (!) and 2016.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Word For Mac 2016: Still No Arabic, But Devanagari Seems To Work

The release version of Word for Mac 2016 was provided to Office 365 subscribers July 9.  My initial tests indicate there is still no support for RTL scripts like Arabic (letters are disconnected), but Devanagari seems to work if you use Apple's Kohinoor font.

A list of the Proofing Tools included can be found here.   I think its accuracy is suspect, since it includes Persian (for which input is definitely not supported) and several Indic scripts (Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil).

For Arabic/Persian there is a kludge workaround which may meet the needs of some users  described here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

iBooks Author Update Adds ePub 3 Export Feature

The iBooks Author 2.3 version released June 19 includes 2 new templates for the creation of ebooks in the epub 3 format.  This is important because the iBookstore requires that books in a number of languages use that format (and not the .ibooks format that was the only option in earlier iBA versions).  Also epub 3 format can normally be read on a variety of platforms, unlike the .ibooks format which is restricted to Mac.

For some info see:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

OS X 10.11: Preview of New Chinese/Japanese Features

From the info provided by Apple on June 8:


New system font.

The new Chinese system font PingFang is designed for a modern appearance and crisp onscreen readability in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Enhanced keyboard input.

Inputting Chinese using the keyboard has never been simpler or faster, thanks to advanced learning capabilities that quickly memorize your word choices, an improved language prediction engine that better anticipates the words you’ll type next, frequently updated vocabulary lists that contain the latest words and phrases, and a smarter candidate window that displays more character selections.

Improved trackpad handwriting.

Enter characters on the trackpad as swiftly and accurately as you do on paper — just by using your finger. A new Trackpad window reflects the proportions of your physical trackpad, gives you more room to write, and lets you write multiple characters in a row.


Live conversion for keyboard input.

OS X El Capitan dramatically improves the ease and speed of entering Japanese text. With an enhanced vocabulary and improved language engine, it automatically transforms Hiragana into written Japanese as you type — eliminating the need to press the space bar for individual word conversions.

New fonts.

OS X El Capitan includes four new Japanese fonts — Klee, Tsukushi A Round Gothic, Tsukushi B Round Gothic, and YuMincho +36p Kana — and more weights for the Hiragino Sans font that add personality to your documents and presentations.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Apple Watch: OS Update Adds 7 Languages

Watch OS 1.0.1 released 5/19/15 adds support for Brazilian Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Thai, Turkish.

This brings the total to 21 (compared to 40 for the iPhone).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bug in Apple's Bangla Fonts

A poster in the Apple Support Communities has pointed out that Apple's Bangla fonts (Bangla MN and Bangla Sangam MN) do not display the combination r plus khanda ta correctly.  The r character is put over the preceding character instead of over the khanda ta.

The Ekushey Bangla fonts for Mac (Solaiman Lipi/Rupali) can be used to have proper display.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Script and Font Support in Windows

For those who run Windows on their Mac, this page which lists the script and font support provided by that OS may be useful.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

10.10.3 Changes Name Of Special Characters

To provide an additional challenge to Yosemite users, with the 10.10.3 update Apple has decided to change the name of the item in the Edit menu for most apps long called "Special Characters".  Clicking on this brings up the Character Viewer where you can access all Unicode characters.  

The new name is "Emoji & Symbols".

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Apple Watch: Language Capabilities Of First Release More Limited Than iPhone

According to the Apple Watch User Guide, the Apple Watch language is set independently using the Watch app on the iPhone, via My Watch > General > Language.

As of 4/24/15, the available languages are  English (U.S.), English (UK), English (Australia), Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), French (France), French (Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Traditional, Hong Kong).  This is rather less than the 40 supported by the iPhone.

Voiceover is reportedly available in all the 14 languages listed above.

I have seen a report that the Music app supports Russian in addition.

The dictation language for a contact is determined by the iphone keyboard normally used in the Message app for the contact.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Replacing OS X User Interface Fonts

Some users may want to replace the fonts used by OS X for menus and dialogues, especially for non-Latin scripts like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Thai.  For a tool that can be used to do this, see this page.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bugs in Apple's Sinhala Font

A poster in the ASC (Apple Support Communities) has discovered some incorrect renderings in the Sinhala fonts provided by Apple in both OS X and iOS.  Details can be found at this page.

Friday, March 6, 2015

MS Word 2016 for OS X Preview: Still No RTL Support, but Indic Yes

I did a quick test with the preview of the new Word 2016 for Mac which was released by Microsoft March 6.   Arabic input was not connected and the characters ran in the wrong direction.  So it looks like the long-requested support for RTL text is still missing.

On the other hand, support for Indic scripts looks much improved:  Hindi conjuncts and vowel reordering were displayed correctly, which has not been the case in earlier versions.

Comments from readers who are able to give this app more thorough tests would be most welcome.

Monday, February 16, 2015

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: New Arabic Fonts

I recently found 14 new Arabic fonts in Yosemite under Library/Application Support/Apple/Fonts/iWork Arabic Support.  These must be installed manually before they become available in iWork and other apps.  Some of them seem to have potential legibilty problems when viewed in this rudimentary Pages 5 test page:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Yosemite Update Fixes Romaji Input Bug

Although Apple fails to say so in the notes for the update 10.10.2 released Jan. 27, this includes a fix for the bug in the Kotoeri Romaji keyboard which removed the ability to make accented characters like é by using the normal Option key shortcuts.  This capability has now been restored, which should please users who want to write in W. European languages while still in Japanese input mode.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yosemite Update Fixes Keyboard Layout Switching Bug

Apple released Yosemite 10.10.2 on Jan. 27, which includes the following fix:

+ Addresses an issue that may cause the input method to switch languages unexpectedly

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Languages Not Yet Supported in Apple iBookstore

The iBookstore Formatting Guidelines of September, 2014 lists books in these languages as not yet eligible for distribution:  Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Burmese, Persian/Farsi, Hebrew, Lao, Malay (Jawi/Arabic), Sinhala, Tamil, Urdu.

My guess that that Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Persian, Malay, and Urdu are excluded because the iBooks app does not yet support the right-to-left page turning they require.  Burmese and Lao could be because proper line breaking is not possible.

From a separate list of "supported" languages it appears that in addition no books in other Indic scripts are currently accepted -- Devanagari, Gujarati, Bangla, Gurmukhi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Telugu.

It's not clear why Indic scripts and Amharic are not accepted.  As far as I know Pages and iBooks Author support composing in them, and the iBooks app can display them OK.

Edit 3/20/15:  I have evidence that at least one Devanagari book has been accepted in the iBookstore.

Monday, December 22, 2014

iOS 8 Safari Translation Feature

Earlier this year I had not been able to get the integrated translation feature which is supposed to be present in iOS 8, at least for Safari, to work, but now it does, and some instructions for setting it up can be found at

It covers 44 languages.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: Reference Dictionaries Provided by Apple

WIth the 5 added in Yosemite, the full list (shown below) is impressive.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: New Devanagari Fonts

In Yosemite Apple added 3 new Devanagari fonts (ITF, Kohinoor, Shree) and switched the default from the venerable Devanagari MT to Kohinoor.  Kohinoor and ITF have a larger number of weights than the earlier fonts,  and Shree includes an italic version.   Samples are provided below:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

OS X: Fixes for Broken Character Picker

If you find that you no longer have the Character Picker (that's the popup menu with accented versions of the key you are holding down), I've seen two fixes that sometimes work:

+Use the plus and add buttons in system preferences/keyboard/input sources to add another keyboard like French or Spanish to your list of active keyboard layouts.

+Go to system preferences/keyboard and toggle the key repeat rate to Off and then on again.

Reboot afterwards.

Friday, November 21, 2014

iWork for iCloud Gets Expanded Language Capabilities

On Nov. 21 Apple updated its iWork web apps -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote beta for iCloud -- to include 8 new languages: Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Simpified Chinese, and Spanish.

Pages (but not the others) can finally do RTL text input, Arabic and Hebrew.

Indic scripts are still not supported.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

OS X Yosemite: Update Fixes Japanese Input Issue

The official release notes for the OS X 10.10.1 update include:

+Addresses an issue that might prevent entering text in Japanese

I'm not sure sure exactly what that issue was, there have been various reports of Japanese problems in the ASC.  If someone finds out, let me know.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Multilingual Font Collection

I recently came across the Google Noto Fonts page, where you can download Unicode fonts for an incredible range of scripts all in one place.  They are under the free Apache license. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Main Webpage Updated

The Unleash Your Multilingual Mac webpage has been updated for Yosemite here.

Comments/corrections welcome as always.

Friday, October 17, 2014

OS X 10.10 Yosemite: New Language Features

Upon initial testing I have found the following:

+New Localizations: Spanish (Mexico)

+New Spell Checkers:  Turkish

+New Dictionaries:  Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Thai, Spanish-English

+New Language Keyboards:  None

+3 New Devanagari Fonts

+Various Improvements in Japanese Input

+Context based candidates for Chinese Input

+Improved Chinese and Japanese Spotlight search

+40 Dictation Languages