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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

iOS 8: Problem With Japanese Keyboard

A number of users have found that updating to iOS 8 makes the Japanese keyboard non-functional.  A possible fix for this is to reset the keyboard dictionary, via

Settings > General > Reset and tap Reset Keyboard Dictionary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

OS X: New Mongolian Keyboard Layout

Thanks to Mukhbayar Batkhuu there is a new Mongolian Cyrillic keyboard layout for OS X available at

Mongollian Keyboard for Mac

Another one can be found at


And a QWERTY version can be had here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3rd Party Keyboards for iOS 8

3rd Party keyboards are becoming available for iOS 8.  This article has one list.

If readers come across any which are useful for languages other than English, let me know.   So far:

+Sangam for Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Assamese, with suggestions, autocorrect, and next-word prediction.

+Georgian Keyboard and Adaptxt claims 90 languages.

+My Script Stack claims handwriting recognition for about 60 languages.

+FarsiKeys for Persian/Farsi.

+Black Keys for IPA, Persian, Aramaic Syriac, Assyrian, Coptic,Inuktatut, Burmese, Amharic, Pashto, Sorani Kurdish, Uyghur, Lao, Kazakh, Georgian, Armenian,Sinhala, Bangla, Malayalam, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi

+Nepali Pro Keyboard

+Keyman Pro claims to cover 600 languages.

+Translit transliteration layouts for Russian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Belarus, Georgian, Greek, Macedonian.

+IPAChart for IPA characters.

+Davka Nikud for pointed Hebrew.

New Keyboards and System Languages in iOS 8

Apple has added keyboards for English (India),  Bengali, Filipino, Marathi, Slovenian,  and Urdu in the new version of iOS released 9/17/14.

The settings formerly available for us additional hardware-type keyboard layouts with iOS devices are no longer available.   For example, under English these were:  us, dvorak, colemak, us international-pc, us extended, british, french, german, spanish-iso, italian, dutch, belgian.

iOS 8 is supposed to have the ability to use custom keyboard layouts, and perhaps that will help make up for that omission.

New system localizations are Hindi and Tamil.

iPhone 6 Language Support

From Tech Specs published 9/17/14:

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, UK, U.S.), Chinese - Simplified (Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke), Chinese - Traditional (Cangjie, Handwriting, Pinyin, Stroke, Sucheng, Zhuyin), French (Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian, Japanese (Kana, Romaji), Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cherokee, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Emoji, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Flemish, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Marathi, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic, Latin), Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese
QuickType keyboard support with predictive input9
English (Australia, Canada, India, UK, U.S.) Chinese (Simplified, Traditional), French (Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Thai
Siri languages
English (Australia, Canada, UK, U.S.), Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.), French (Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy, Switzerland), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Mainland China, Taiwan), Cantonese (Hong Kong)
Dictation languages
English (Australia, Canada, UK, U.S.), Spanish (Mexico, Spain, U.S.), French (Canada, France, Switzerland), German (Germany, Switzerland), Italian (Italy, Switzerland), Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Mainland China, Taiwan), Cantonese (Hong Kong), Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Swedish, Turkish, Thai, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Definition dictionary support
English, Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Thai, Turkish
Bilingual dictionary support
Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish
Spell check
English (Australia, Canada, UK, U.S.), French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Russian, Swedish, Turkish

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fonts and Keyboards for Greek/Coptic Scholars

OS X users needing special notation and characters for work involving ancient Greek or Coptic texts may be interested in the set of fonts and keyboards provided by Ralph Hancock and Jean-Luc Fournet at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

OS X: Assigning Default Language Keyboard to Apps

If you have a need to have particular apps always use the same input source, AutoKeyboard is designed to do that:

Monday, June 2, 2014

New Language Features in iOS 8

At the WWDC June 2, Apple announced some new language features to appear in the next version of iOS:

+multilingual predictive typing via QuickType (14 countries).

+22 new languages for Siri

+real time in line translation via Bing

+ability to install system-wide third party keyboards

See the first Comment to this article for additional details.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Input Methods for Indic Scripts

Thanks to Ranganath Atreya we now have some alternatives to Apple's keyboards for Indic scripts.  His user-configurable IM covers a variety of transliteration systems for Unicode Bengali, Devanagari, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil, and Telugu.  You can download it at

OS 10.8 or higher is required.  A chart of the mappings can be found here.

If any users try this out, I would welcome seeing their comments here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

iWork for iCloud Beta: Still No Support For RTL OR Indic Scripts

The improvements added by Apple to iWork for iCloud beta on May 21 did not include any fixes to the broken rendering of Arabic or Indic scripts reported earlier.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Social Network App for Language Exchange

I recently became aware of an unusual app designed to facilitate social networking across language barriers and help people learning another language.  The range of languages supported seems quite large.  For further info go to

I have not had a chance to try it myself.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Language Improvements In iOS and Mac Pages And Keynote

The new versions of iOS and Mac Pages and Keynote released by Apple April 1 have several new features for Arabic/Hebrew.

In Pages:

+New Arabic and Hebrew templates
+Improved support for bi-directional text
+Word count for Hebrew

In Keynote:

+Improved bi-directional support:  switch direction for text, lists and tables

I have not had a chance to test many of these yet, but I see that multicolumn text flow is now correct in Pages for RTL scripts.  To see the new templates you need to switch the OS language to Arabic/Hebrew.

iWork for iCloud Beta: Still No Support For RTL Or Indic Scripts

The improvements added by Apple to iWork for iCloud beta on April 1 did not included any fixes to the broken rendering of Arabic or Indic scripts reported earlier.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

MS Word For iPad: No Support For Arabic Or Indic

My initial tests indicate that the Word for iPad app released today cannot do RTL (like Arabic -- wrong direction and letters not connected) or Indic scripts (like Devanagari -- no conjuncts or vowel reordering).

Like Mac Word, iPad Word can be made to add correct Arabic to an Arabic document created by Windows Word, which may be a useful in some circumstances.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adding Reference Dictionaries to iOS

I had not thought it possible to add reference dictionaries to iOS, but recently came across this app which is supposed to be able to do it.  I have not tried it myself.

Dictionary Appender

To add .dict files to your device so that Dictionary appender can process them, use file sharing as described here.

Unfortunately this app was removed from the app store for some reason.  If anyone knows how to get it, let me know.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Typing With The International Phonetic Alphabet

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is not a language but a set of agreed special symbols for describing the pronunciation of any language. Within Unicode they are spread over a number of different blocks, and your OS X should be able to display them with the right fonts. The Wikipedia IPA page is a good way to test your fonts, as the charts there are available both as text and as images.

To input IPA in OS X you need to use the app IPA Palette, the OS X Character Palette, or a special keyboard, such as that created by SIL. Any modern word processor should work.  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Bug in Apple Arabic Fonts

A poster in the Apple Support Communities has pointed out that most Apple Arabic fonts in Mavericks will not display certain vowel sign sequences correctly, include the default Geeza Pro.

My initial testing indicates that Waseem and Diwan work, as well as some English fonts that happen to include Arabic, like Courier New.  Others are the SIL fonts Lateef and Scheherazade.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing Systems of the World

I recently came across this interesting map showing the geography of the world's major writing systems.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mac 30-Year Anniversary Font

See this page to get a custom font created by Apple showing Mac models of the last 30 years.

The characters are in the Unicode Private Use Area.  You should be able to use the Character Viewer or the Unicode Hex keyboard layout to input them (U+E600 to U+E643).  Of course only someone else who has installed the font can see the characters on a web page or email, but they should show up on a .pdf for anyone.

Reading Non-Unicode Sinhala

While it is strongly recommended that only Unicode fonts be used for writing Sinhala, sometimes you have to work with text created using legacy encodings, which will not display properly unless you can find the right custom font.  I recently came across this site where such text can be converted to Unicode:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

iWork For iCloud Beta: Still No RTL Or Indic Support

The update for iWork for iCloud Beta announced by Apple January 23, 2014 (the 3rd since its initial release to the public last July) did not fix the broken support for Arabic/Hebrew or Indic scripts.  The characters for Arabic are unconnected and in reverse order, while for Indic scripts vowel reordering and conjunct formation is not possible.   The languages involved are used by about 1 billion people.

Monday, January 20, 2014

App To Add Fonts to iOS Devices

Thanks to Keith Martin, there is now an app available which lets users add fonts to their iOS 7 devices, using the technique described in an earlier article.  You can get it at

This should be particularly valuable for users who want to add fonts for scripts still missing from iOS, such as Myanmar, Khmer, Thaana, Syriac, Mongolian, etc.

iOS apps with similar capabilities are at