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How to Set Up & Use Multiple Language Input Options on Your Computer

Current desktop operating systems now allow users to input characters in many languages using the standard U.S. (English) keyboard. Using this feature, you can easily type diacritics and characters not used in Roman (Latin) alphabet languages without the use of additional software or remembering multiple key sequences.

Please understand that while your operating system may support multiple language input, your software application may have limitations. For example, email applications designed for English-language speakers may handle diacritics for European languages, but may not allow you to type Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or Korean characters. On the other hand, an application such as MS-Word 2000 supports virtually any language. Any software application that claims support for Unicode should be able to handle input in any language.

Windows Users
Macintosh Users

Windows Users

1. Click here for a step by step guide to select the languages you want to be able to use. Although geared to those needing Asian character-based languages, the instructions here are applicable to any language. Only Windows XP supports built-in language input options, but information is also provided for users of Windows 95/98/2000/NT.

NOTE: The directions on the above discuss selecting Chinese and Japanese. For Korean, choose "Korean" under Input Language and choose "Korean Input IME Standard 2002" under Keyboad Layout/IME. This allows you to input Korean characters with Hanja (Chinese characters).

2. Once step 1 is complete, your selected languages appear by clicking the Language icon on the Windows TaskBar. The icon is a rectangle with the characters of your default language input option, most likely EN (English).

3. To test, open an application, e.g., MS-Word, in which you want to type in a foreign language. Click the Language icon and select a language, e.g. German. Now return to your application. When you press a key, you will produce the character assigned to that key for the selected language. Depending upon the language, the character produced may or may not be the same as the character shown on the key itself. For example, by selecting German, pressing the key for a single quote ( ' ) produces the letter "a" with an umlaut ( ä ). Once you switch back to English, pressing the key for a single quote ( ' ) produces the single quote.

4. In order to view the keyboard mapping for a language*, click:

Start>All Programs>Accessories>Accessibility>On-Screen Keyboard

The default layout is for a U.S. (English) keyboard; the layout will change as you shift focus into applications set for different languages. Or you can change the language for the On-Screen Keyboard (an application itself) by clicking the Language icon and selecting a language. The On-Screen Keyboard's window is a pop-up that works on top of your application window. This means you can use your mouse to click a key to produce a character in your open document. Some users have reported problems with the On-Screen Keyboard. As an option, the Microsoft Visual Keyboard is available as a free download (search for "visual keyboard" on the Office download site). This performs the same functions as the On-Screen Keyboard and also operates as a pop-up.

*For Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK), the keyboard layout looks like the standard U.S. (English) keyboard because, of course, there is no one-to-one equivalency between a Roman (Latin) alphabet character and a CJK character. To input CJK characters, type the transliterated form. Once a sequence of Roman (Latin) alphabet characters has been entered, the CJK character appears. For example, type the Pinyin "dao" (three letters) to produce the one Chinese character. (Note: this assumes that you have selected a Pinyin input method (IME) when adding a language input.)

5. Changing the language input option affects only the current application in focus. For example, if you are using Mozilla with Chinese, this does not affect Eudora--it will use either your default input option (probably English) or the one you previously selected. Once you close and then reopen an application, it will always revert to the default language input option. The Language icon on the Windows TaskBar always changes to the language input option of the application currently in focus. You can, within one application, switch back and forth between or among input options, e.g., you can type a document using English as your input option, switch to French to type a title with diacritics, and then switch back to English.

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Macintosh Users

1. Open System Preferences.

2. In the Personal section, select International.

3. Select the Input Menu tab.

4. Check any input methods you wish to be available, e.g. Simplified or Traditional Chinese.

5. Check the box marked "Show input menu in menu bar".

6. The icon for your default input method will appear toward the right of the menu bar--a U.S. flag if your defaultis U.S. English.

7. If desired, click Options and check the box marked "Try to match keyboard with text." This will try to match the keyboard layout to the input method.

8. To change input options, click the input method icon and select a language.

The icon changes to the selected language.

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