Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tibetan in OS X

Until recently, I thought that the only way to do correct Unicode Tibetan in OS X was to purchase the Tibetan language kit from XenoTypeTech. This is because OS X requires an AAT font for this script, and that was the only source. But I have discovered that the program OpenOffice/X11 can display correct Tibetan using free Windows OpenType fonts. Also that there are some free keyboard layouts which work with OpenOffice. For full info, see my note at

Typing Tibetan

10 comments:

Colleen said...

I've been able to get the Tibetan Machine Web fonts to work in TextEdit (using Chris Walker's Wylie keyboard input program).

I was hoping to be able to use them in NeoOffice/J in OS X (10.3.9), but TMW doesn't work - letters are broken up.

I'm not that tech-savvy, but from what I can gather NeoOffice lacks a component (X11) that OpenOffice/X11 has. Is this the critical thing that makes the TMW font usable in a full-featured word-processor?

BTW, when working in Windows (via Virtual PC), I also was able to get Sambhota-Word docs to display correctly in OpenOffice. This has been very handy, as I'm running Sambhota from an old version of Word (98), which doesn't have a "save as PDF file" option. Now, I can input text in Sambhota in the old Word program, and save as a normal doc file. Then, by opening that file in OpenOffice I can make it a PDF. (OO doesn't work for the raw input with Sambhota, however.)

Tom Gewecke said...

I assume you are talking about the Non-Unicode TMW font and input methods. I regret I don't know anything about them or how to make them work. If possible, I would recommend that you move to Unicode fonts like Tibetan Machine Uni and the XenoTypeTech kit, as this technology is now the international standard and has superseded the other one. OpenOffice should allow you to produce correct Unicode Tibetan in OS X with the modern fonts.

alienvoord said...

10.4 has a Tibetan font. It's in the Character Palette. It has an Uighur (Mongolian) font as well. They are pretty much impossible to use, though.

Tom Gewecke said...

The Tibetan and Mongolian characters you can see in the Character Palette in 10.3 and 10.4 are incorporated in certain Chinese fonts, presumably as a requirement for sale in that country, but are not in fact usable for writing those scripts because the layout tables need to create the correct character combinations have been omitted.

Tashi Joe said...

I am attempting to use the Tibeten font fount in the international characters (flag) icon on my macbook 10.5. I found the keyboard to be missing many of the letters/post/sub scrips needed. can anybody confirm that this alphabet is basically unusable or offer suggestions as to how to be able to type tibetan on a mac?

Tom Gewecke said...

Tashi Joe -- With the Tibertan Qwerty་ or Otani keyboard layout, you get the subscripts by hitting the f key before typing the character. Is it not working for you? Or are you using a different layout?

Vikram Lal said...

Does anybody know how to get the tibetan chandra bindu (forgot the name in Tibetan) on a Mac? (used for Om, Hung, etc)?

Tom Gewecke said...

option shift m in tibetan qwerty

Joseph Garrahan said...

tom, do you know if there are instructions on how to use the keyboard for the mac tibetan fonts? as you can see above I attempted using it years ago with little success. I'd like to try again

Tom Gewecke said...

Joe -- I'll have to look around for any instructions, but it is really pretty simple as far as I know. Just email me the details of the problem. Do you use the Wylie system? tom at bluesky dot org