Languages use a wide variety of characters in their writing systems. A keyboard allows users to input characters and information into the computer. Learn how to use your keyboard.
If you look at the symbols in your keyboard right now, probably some of the characters you use to write in your language are not printed on the keys. Using a keyboard layout designed for your language can make those characters available to you easily, without having to change your actual physical keyboard.
How does it work?
Multiple keyboard layouts can be installed at the same time on a computer. You can easily switch from one to the other with a few clicks.
- Keyboard layout: a specific distribution of keys and characters in a keyboard. It can be physical (the keys you see printed in your keyboard) or functional (a new set of characters configured by the user).
- Modifier keys: The most common modifier key is the Shift key, which on most keyboards will allow access to capital letters. Alt and Ctrl are also modifier keys. They can be combined with other keys to access different characters.
- Deadkeys: A special type of key that does not generate a character on the screen right away. It is combined with another key to create a special character. In French, for example, the combination of the deadkey ` (acute accent) with the key a (letter a) produces à.
- Combinations: In some keyboards, typing two characters one after the other causes them to change. For example, one might type n and then g but, instead of getting “ng” see it change to ŋ.
Depending on the keyboard one chooses, one or many of these alternatives may be used. The documentation for the keyboard generally covers this.
How to find keyboard layouts for specific language online
There are many applications to help you manage your keyboard layout.
- Operating system keyboard layout options
- Keyman: helps you type in over 2000 languages on just about any device.
Here you can find some tutorials on how to install and use Keyman keyboards on your device. The documentation is available for both desktop and mobile versions.
Keyboard layouts for non-Latin alphabets
Here we’ve linked some suggested keyboards layouts designed specifically for each language or language family.
Do you know more? Share them with us in this thread and we will keep updating this section!
Nigeria: These three Keyman keyboards pair together to cover the expected needs of most of Nigeria’s languages. The three keyboards are identical except that the vowels are treated differently.
- Nigeria Odd Vowels (SIL) Keyboard. The vowels on this keyboard can have a non-standard shape as well as the standard tone markings. The keyboard also includes standard hook (implosives), nasality, tone, and the Naira sign. It includes Waha, Bura-Pabir, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Hausa, Marghi, Mandara and Kibaku characters.
- Nigeria Dot (SIL) keyboard. The vowels on this keyboard can have a dot below them as well as the standard tone markings. The keyboard also includes standard hook (implosives), nasality, tone, and the Naira sign.
- Nigeria Underline (SIL) keyboard. The vowels on this keyboard can have an underline below them as well as the standard tone markings. The keyboard also includes standard hook (implosives), nasality, tone, and the Naira sign.