Add & Easily Switch Keyboard Layout in Windows 7 & Windows 8

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Windows comes preinstalled with support for a variety of languages. So if you regularly need to type in multiple languages, you can easily add the desired language as a new input language and switch through them. Here I’ll show how you can add a new keyboard layout and language in Windows 7 and Windows 8, and switch them when needed.

Note: This only changes allows you to type in a different language. It doesn’t change display language.

Add New Keyboard Layout and Language

Windows 7

  1. Search for intl.cpl in Start menu Search box, or type it in Run dialog box, and then press ENTER
  2. Switch to Keyboards and Language tab in Region and Language dialog, and click on “Change keyboards…” button
  3. Click Add to get the list of available input languages and keyboards
  4. Select desired keyboard layout by expanding the language you want, and then click OK. For instance, if you want the Dvorak keyboard layout, scroll down the list to English (United States) > Keyboard > United States-Dvorak, or for the AZERTY keyboard layout, expand language that includes French as language name.
  5. To see a preview of the keyboard layout, click on the Preview button.
  6. Hit OK to save your changes and close the Text Services and Input Languages dialog

Windows 8

Windows 8 has an improved interface for adding new keyboard layouts. Follow these steps to add a new input method for the keyboard layout of a added language in Windows 8:

  1. Open Control Panel and click on the Language icon, or else go to PC settings > General > Language Preferences
  2. Then in Language window, either double click on an added language or click on Options for a added language
  3. Under ‘Input method’ in Language options, click on Add an input method
  4. Now scroll through the list and double click on an input method you want to add or select an input method and click on Add
  5. Hit Save button to save your changes

Now you should be able to a new ‘keyboard’ and ‘EN’ icon (depends on added language) on the taskbar. Click on it to see enabled keyboard layouts, and click on one to switch to it.

By default Windows assigns the left Alt + Shift keys to switch languages and Ctrl + Shift keys to switch keyboard layouts. These keys are far too easy to press by mistake on regular keyboard usage. You can change this setting in ‘Advanced Key Settings’ tab in ‘Text Services and Input Languages’ dialog. There you can change the key sequence to something else, or disable it altogether.

Another change you may want to make is set a specific keyboard layout for system-wide usage. By default Windows allows you to set separate layouts for different programs. This is a convenient feature as you can use and type in different languages in programs without having to constantly switch. However, if you don’t like this behavior you can set a desired language as default in ‘Text Services and Input Languages’ dialog by choosing it from the dropdown menu.

Check if Correct Keyboard Layout is Enabled

The built-in On-Screen Keyboard makes it quite easy to make sure that you have the correct layout enabled. It can also come in handy to know key placements if your keyboard isn’t same as the chosen language.

To launch On-Screen Keyboard, search for osk in the Start Search box or type it in the Run box, and press Enter.