Enable keyboard layouts for different languages

Your keyboard layout, also called the "keyboard language" or "input language", controls which characters appear on your screen when you press the keys on your keyboard. The layouts allow you to type all the characters for the language, including diacritical marks such as the umlaut (ä) in German and the tilde (ñ) in Spanish.

After you enable a language's keyboard layout, you can easily switch between keyboard languages with the Language bar to type in a different language such as Arabic, Hindi, Russian, or Spanish. For more information about using the Language bar, see Switch between different languages using the Language bar.

 Tip    Do you just want to enter a few foreign characters? You can insert symbols or characters from other languages by typing ASCII character codes (see ASCII Character Codes), or with the character map, a virtual keyboard.

Enable a keyboard layout

Changing the keyboard language enables you to type the characters that are used in that language.

 Important    To check for spelling, grammar, or hyphenation errors, the proofing tools for the language that you are typing in must be enabled and a language pack or language interface pack (LIP) may be needed. For more information, see Do I need a language pack or language interface pack?.

ShowIn Windows 8

  1. Press the Windows logo key + X to see a list of commands and options. (Basically a quick way to get to Control Panel.)

Options and commands list see after pressing Windows logo key + X

  1. Click Control Panel.
  2. Under Clock, Language, and Region, click Change input methods.
  3. For the language you want to add the input language, click Options.

Adding input method in Control Panel in Windows 8

  1. Under Input method, click Add an input method. You can even click Preview to see what the input device is like.

Adding an input method in Windows 8

  1. Click the input method you want, and then click Add.

Adding input method in Windows 8

ShowIn Windows 7

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Under Clock, Language, and Region, under Region and Language, click Change keyboards or other input methods.
  3. In the Region and Language dialog box, on the Keyboards and Languages tab, click Change keyboards Change keyboards button.
  4. In the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box, under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language, and then go to Change the keyboard language with the Language bar.

    Text Services and Input Languages dialog box

If the language that you want to use as the default input language is not listed, complete steps 5 through 8.

  1. Under Installed services, click Add.
  2. Expand the language that you want to use as the default input language, and then expand Keyboard.
  3. Select the check box for the keyboard or Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.) that you want to use, and then click OK. The language is added to the Default input language list.

To preview the keyboard layout, click Preview.
Add Input Language dialog box with Russian keyboard

  1. Under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language.

ShowIn Windows Vista (for Office 2010 and 2007)

  1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Under Clock, Language, and Region, click Change keyboards or other input methods.

 Note    In Classic View, double-click Regional and Language Options, and then click the Keyboards and Languages tab.

  1. In the Regional and Language dialog box, on the Keyboards and Languages tab, click Change keyboards. Change keyboards button
  2. In the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box, under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language, and then go to Change the keyboard language with the Language bar.

    Text Services and Input Languages dialog box

If the language that you want to use as the default input language is not listed, complete steps 5 through 8.

  1. Under Installed services, click Add.
  2. Expand the language that you want to use as the default input language, and then expand Keyboard.
  3. Select the check box for the keyboard or Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.) that you want to use, and then click OK. The language is added to the Default input language list.

To preview the keyboard layout, click Preview.
.Add Input Language dialog box with Russian keyboard

  1. Under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language, and then go to Change the keyboard language with the Language bar.

ShowIn Windows XP (for Office 2010 and 2007)

 Important    To enable keyboards for languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, you must first install the East Asian language files. For languages that are read from right to left or that require contextual shaping to appear, you must install the complex scripts to support these languages. For information about how to install the East Asian Language files and complex scripts, see Enable system support for East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages.

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options, and then click Regional and Language Options.

 Note    In Classic View, double-click Regional and Language Options.

  1. In the Regional and Language Options dialog box, click the Languages tab, and then under Text services and input languages, click Details.
  2. In the Text Services and Input Languages dialog box,

Text Services and Input Languages dialog box

under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language, and then go to Change the keyboard language with the Language bar.

If the language that you want to use as the default input language is not listed, complete steps 5 through 7.

 Note    The default language that you select is applied to all programs on your computer that use this setting, including programs from other companies.

  1. Under Installed services, click Add.
  2. In the Add Input Language dialog box, click the language that you want from the Input language list, and then click OK.
  3. Under Default input language, click the language that you want to use as the default language.

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Change the keyboard language with the Language bar

If you enabled the keyboard layouts for all the languages that you need and you are ready to type text in another language, you can change the keyboard with the Language bar before you start typing. For more information about using the Language bar, or if you don't see the Language bar on your desktop or taskbar and need to enable it, see Switch between different languages using the Language bar.

  1. Open your document and place the cursor in the document where you want to start to type text in a different language.
  2. Click the language icon English keyboard indicator on the Language bar, and then click the language that you want to use.

Keyboard shortcut  To switch between keyboard layouts, press ALT+SHIFT.

 Note    The English keyboard indicator icon is an example, and it shows when English is the language of the active keyboard layout. The actual icon shown on your computer depends on the language of the active keyboard layout.

If you have set up more than one keyboard layout for a single language, you can switch between layouts by clicking the keyboard layout indicator
Sample Language bar keyboard indicators on the Language bar, and then clicking the keyboard layout that you want to use. The name on the indicator changes to reflect the active keyboard layout.

  1. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to switch between different languages.

See a keyboard in your selected language

If you’re using a physical keyboard in one language, such as English, but have changed your keyboard layout to a different language, such as Russian, you can see which keys on your keyboard will type what characters on your screen by opening the onscreen keyboard.

onscreen keyboard with Russian Cyrillic characters

Open the onscreen keyboard

  1. Click Start.
  2. Type Onscreen Keyboard into the Search programs and files box.
  3. Click Turn On-Screen Keyboard on or off.
  4. In the Ease of Access Center, click Start On-Screen Keyboard.
  5. If necessary, change your keyboard language using the language bar to see the keyboard in that language.

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Enable system support for East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages

In Windows 8

Windows 8 includes all the necessary files to support East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages. Just enable the keyboard or Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.) for the language that you want by following the steps in the Enable a keyboard layout section.

In Windows 7

Windows 7 includes all the necessary files to support East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages. Just enable the keyboard or Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.) for the language that you want by following the steps in the Enable a keyboard layout section.

In Windows Vista (for Office 2010 and 2007)

Windows Vista includes all the necessary files to support East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages. Just enable the keyboard or Input Method Editor (IME) (IME: A program that enters East Asian text (Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, or Korean) into programs by converting keystrokes into complex East Asian characters. The IME is treated as an alternate type of keyboard layout.) for the language that you want by following the steps in the Enable a keyboard layout section.

In Windows XP (for Office 2010 and 2007)

When working with East Asian, Southeast Asian, Indic, and right-to-left languages in Windows XP, some additional setup may be required depending on your operating system. For more information, see Right-to-left language features.

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