When you have to type in multiple languages regularly it can be really frustrating and confusing having to switch between keyboards on your computer. Not only is it a hassle having to manually change the keyboard every time you want to type in another language, but the letters or punctuation marks are usually in slightly different places for each keyboard. This makes it basically impossible to type fluently, as you’re constantly having to guess where to find a comma, or a question mark, or anything else you need.
Looking for an easy way to type in multiple languages on your computer?
Luckily, there is an easy way to switch between languages with ease using your computer’s own keyboard layout. It’s called the U.S. International keyboard, and it accepts input in almost all languages with a Romanised writing system. I’ve found that many people don’t know about this handy little trick, or how to use it, so I’m here to make typing in multiple languages easier for you.
How to Install the International Keyboard on your Computer:
1. Click on the language symbol in the top right of your screen and select “Open Keyboard Preferences”. If you can’t find this, just open Settings and search for keyboard.
2. Select the ‘input sources’ tab and click on the small + sign under the list of languages.
3. Select ‘ English’ and scroll down until you reach U.S. International – PC. Click ‘add’.
Now you have a keyboard which you can use to write in multiple languages! Now all you have to do is remember the shortcuts to create your accent marks.
Note: This keyboard is available for both Windows and Mac.
A few notes about typing in English with the U.S. International Keyboard:
Firstly, I know seeing the word U.S. is offputting to some people, but don’t worry if you don’t use U.S English. With the U.S. International keyboard you will still be able to type in Australian, British, or any other variety of English. The U.S. International keyboard actually has very little to do with the U.S!
When typing in English, you will now have to remember to press the space key after some punctuation marks for it to appear. This is because the punctuation marks now have secondary uses – to form the accent marks in different languages. It’s not a huge hassle, just something new to get used to.
How to Use the U.S. International Keyboard to type in Multiple Languages:
How to type in Spanish using the U.S. International keyboard:*
Keys to Press
á, é, í, ó, ú
(‘) + (vowel)
(˜) + (n)
SHIFT + ` + n
ALT + (!)
ALT + SHIFT + (1)
ALT + ?
ALT + SHIFT + (/)
How to type in Portuguese using the U.S. International keyboard:*
Keys to Press
á, é, í, ó, ú
(‘) + (vowel)
(˜) + (a,o)
SHIFT + (`) +(a,o)
(^) + (e,o)
SHIFT + (6) + (e,o)
(‘) + (c)
(`) + (a)
Other common symbols and accent marks that you can produce with the u.s. International keyboard:
Keys to Press:
ä, ë, ï, ö, ü
” + (vowel)
SHIFT + ‘ + (vowel)
â, î, û
(ˆ) + (a, i, u)
SHIFT + (6) + (a, i, u)
è, ì, ò, ù
(`) + (e, i, o, u)
As you can see, they are all pretty intuitive as the punctuation mark generally corresponds with the inflection on the letter. It doesn’t take long to get used to which keys to press to get the write accent.
Those are just a few examples but most symbols for any language with a romanised script can be typed using the U.S International keyboard. You can then type in multiple languages consecutively – say, Polish, Dutch and French – without having to switch between keyboards at all!
*Note: these shortcuts are assuming you have a standard English keyboard. If you have a computer or keyboard purchased in a non English-speaking country, it might be slightly different and you would have to play around with the keys a little bit until you find the right symbols. In any case, you will still be able to make all the accent marks of your target language.
Languages with different scripts
For languages that don’t use the romanised script, you will have to add the keyboard for that script in manually. For Chinese, I use the Pinyin input keyboard, but you could choose whichever input method you prefer.
When you choose the new script, be sure to select to use the Caps Lock key to switch between the US International keyboard and the other alphabet’s keyboard. This makes it quick and easy to switch between languages when you’re typing. If you actually need to use the Caps Lock key for its intended purpose, simply hold it down instead of the usual tap.
So if you’ve been wondering how to make typing in multiple languages on your computer easier, there you have it. Who knew it could be so easy?
So tell me: did you know about the U.S. International keyboard before?
If this post was useful to you, make sure you share it with someone who it might help as well!