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Add keyboard languages to XP, Vista, and Windows 7

Do you regularly need to type in multiple languages in Windows?  Here we’ll show you the easy way to add and change input languages to your keyboard in XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Windows Vista and 7 come preinstalled with support for viewing a wide variety of languages, so adding an input language is fairly simply.  Adding an input language is slightly more difficult in XP, and requires installing additional files if you need an Asian or Complex script language.  First we show how to add an input language in Windows Vista and 7; it’s basically the same in both versions.  Then, we show how to add a language to XP, and also how to add Complex Script support. 

Please note that this is only for adding an input language, which will allow you to type in the language you select.  This does not change your user interface language.

Change keyboard language in Windows 7 and Vista

It is fairly simple to add or change a keyboard language in Windows 7 or Vista.  In Windows 7, enter “keyboard language” in the Start menu search box, and select “Change keyboards or other input methods”.

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In Windows Vista, open Control Panel and enter “input language” in the search box and select “Change keyboards or other input methods”.  This also works in Windows 7.

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Now, click Change Keyboards to add another keyboard language or change your default one.

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Our default input language is US English, and our default keyboard is the US keyboard layout.  Click Add to insert another input language while still leaving your default input language installed.

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Here we selected the standard Thai keyboard language (Thai Kedmanee), but you can select any language you want.  Windows offers almost any language you can imagine, so just look for the language you want, select it, and click Ok.

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Alternately, if you want, you can click Preview to see your layout choice before accepting it.  This is only the default characters, not ones that will be activated with Shift or other keys (many Asian languages use many more characters than English, and require the use of Shift and other keys to access them all).  Once your finished previewing, click close and then press Ok on the previous dialog.

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Now you will see both of your keyboard languages in the Installed services box.  You can click Add to go back and get more, or move your selected language up or down (to change its priority), or simply click Apply to add the new language.

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Also, you can now change the default input language from the top menu.  This is the language that your keyboard will start with when you boot your computer.  So, if you mainly use English but also use another language, usually it is best to leave English as your default input language.

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Once you’ve pressed Apply or Ok, you will see a new icon beside your system tray with the initials of your default input language.

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If you click it, you can switch between input languages.  Alternately you can switch input languages by pressing Alt+Shift on your keyboard.

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Some complex languages, such as Chinese, may have extra buttons to change input modes to accommodate their large alphabet.

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If you would like to change the keyboard shortcut for changing languages, go back to the Input Languages dialog, and select the “Advanced Key Settings” tab.  Here you can change settings for Caps Lock and change or add key sequences to change between languages.

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Also, the On-Screen keyboard will display the correct keyboard language (here the keyboard is displaying Thai), which can be a helpful reference if your physical keyboard doesn’t have your preferred input language printed on it.  To open this, simply enter “On-Screen keyboard” in the start menu search, or click All Programs>Accessories>On-Screen keyboard.

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Change keyboard language in Windows XP

The process for changing the keyboard language in Windows XP is slightly different.  Open Control Panel, and select “Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options”.

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Select “Add other languages”.

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Now, click Details to add another language.  XP does not include support for Asian and complex languages by default, so if you need to add one of those languages we have details for that below.

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Click Add to add an input language.

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Select your desired language from the list, and choose your desired keyboard layout if your language offers multiple layouts.  Here we selected Canadian French with the default layout.

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Now you will see both of your keyboard languages in the Installed services box.  You can click Add to go back and add more, or move your selected language up or down (to change its priority), or simply click Apply to add the new language.

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Once you’ve pressed Apply or Ok, you will see a new icon beside your system tray with the initials of your default input language.

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If you click it, you can switch between input languages.  Alternately you can switch input languages by pressing Alt+Shift on your keyboard.

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If you would like to change the keyboard shortcut for changing languages, go back to the Input Languages dialog, and click the “Key Settings” button on the bottom of the dialog.  Here you can change settings for Caps Lock and change or add key sequences to change between languages.

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Add support to XP for Asian and Complex script languages

Windows XP does not include support for Asian and Complex script languages by default, but you can easily add them to your computer.  This is useful if you wish to type in one of these languages, or simply want to read text written in these languages, since XP will not display these languages correctly if they are not installed.  If you wish to install Chinese, Japanese, and/or Korean, check the “Install files for East Asian languages” box.  Or, if you need to install a complex script language (including Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Hebrew, the Indic languages, Thai, and Vietnamese), check the “Install files for complex script and right-to-left languages” box.

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Choosing either of these options will open a prompt reminding you that this option will take up more disk space.  Support for complex languages will require around 10Mb of hard drive space, but East Asian language support may require 230 Mb or more free disk space.  Click Ok, and click apply to install your language files.

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You may have to insert your XP CD into your CD drive to install these files.  Insert the disk, and then click Ok.

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Windows will automatically copy the files, including fonts for these languages…

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…and then will ask you to reboot your computer to finalize the settings.  Click Yes, and then reopen the “Add other languages” dialog when your computer is rebooted, and add a language as before.

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  Now you can add Complex and/or Asian languages to XP, just as above.  Here is the XP taskbar language selector with Thai installed.

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Conclusion

Unfortunately we haven’t found a way to add Asian and complex languages in XP without having an XP disc. If you know of a way, let us know in the comments. (No downloading the XP disc from torrent site answers please)

Adding an input language is very important for bilingual individuals, and can also be useful if you simply need to occasionally view Asian or Complex languages in XP.  And by following the correct instructions for your version of Windows, it should be very easy to add, change, and remove input languages.

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 03/9/10

Comments (25)

  1. HydroKirby

    After doing this for a few years, I eventually had the idea to put on Japanese IME support and just disable the English keyboard. You start out in half-width Romaji mode (the typical characters like I’m typing now), so it pretty much makes the English keyboard useless. With only one input method, I don’t have an icon in the language bar showing what keyboard I’m using, so the language bar becomes a tad smaller.

  2. Alec S.

    Yup, the main reason that I have never bothered to install support for the extra languages is because it takes a /ridiculously/ large amount of space. What exactly takes up that 200MB+? The Unicode Arial font is ~20MB and has all of the language sets. How many fonts are installed with this method? What are there dictionaries and text-to-speech stuff too? >200MB!

  3. Dennis Anthony

    I can display text in Hindi and Persian OK on all my XP Home computers without installing anything extra. This is from the translation site, frengly.com
    Does this mean I already have these scripts installed and if so how would I be able to access them to type using them?
    Thanks for any advice.

  4. Mosi

    somebody help me plz!
    the login password for my account is a word in persian..(Farsi), but i cant switch between languages..
    even Alt+Shif doesnt work…
    and no other options to change language..
    what do i have to do ?
    i need a way to switch lang to FA..then type in the password..otherwise i cant get in :( :( :(

  5. Matthew Guay

    @Mosi – You should have a little square on your login screen that you can click to change language. If your keyboard is in English right now, it should say EN; click it to switch to Farsi or any other language you have installed. Let me know if this works…

  6. AHSOBATI

    thank you i really enjoyed that

  7. krystn

    i have a problem, i did everything you said for Windows 7, but when i preview the language (im using korean), it shows the english alphabet and not the korean characters. i tried other languages but its still in english. what’s wrong?

  8. romero

    I have done all the steps in adding another language to my keyboard. However the icon shows no where. there is no english Icon that I can click and change to Arabic, go to toolbars and there is no language center.
    what should I do . I have a new computer with windows 7
    thanks
    r

  9. ParkaDude

    Dude, thanks, you made my day!
    谢谢!

  10. aida

    tanx alot…it was really useful…i can not be happier than this…I finally can type in my language.

  11. hercegyu

    Can I add language in win7 from console?

    I need this cause I had bug on windows. I had 2 languages(keyboard layouts) installed (En and Ser), but in last 10 days when I reset system I lost Ser (win back to default keyboard layouts settings). I add Ser again and it works nice until I shutdown or reset win.

    Tnx

  12. thir

    i wanna add the east asian language but there is no disk..what can i do??

  13. Vania

    At last I can type Chinese now! I had Windows 7 on my new laptop and can’t figure out how to type in another language. Thank you very much! =)

  14. ak

    i want to change from english to gujarati language. but i am scare becasue i have heard that if you are in other language mode ( like gujarati) and if i turn off computer , i wii not be able to re start computer because when I turn off computer that time mode was in gujarati language.
    is that correct? becaue password was in english and when i turn off that language mode was in other language (gujarati).

  15. Jeremy Perkins

    how do I install a language that is not on the list ?

  16. Imran

    Thanks, So much..
    U r a great help.

    Cheerz.

  17. zai

    my windox’s xp doesn’t show the korean language and it doesn’t show the “keyboard and languages” option either, what do i do?

  18. zai

    ohhhh, but what if you don’t have the cd on you anymore? no other option?

  19. Gabbai

    I have complex scripts installed but for some reason Hebrew has now disappeared from my email program, Eudora and all I get is gibberish. I would like to try deleting these scripts and re-installing them but cannot see how to do this. Can anyone help?

  20. alf

    how do i uninstall korean , japanese languages!!
    i dont need them hogging space and i see they still exist even after a fresh install wherein i choose english as the language to use,, so why do they stay!? crazy microsoft

    fonts too, i dont need all these other foreign fonts?! why cant i uninstall them easily!!?

  21. Madhu

    You write :”Our default input language is US English, and our default keyboard is the US keyboard layout. Click Add to insert another input language while still leaving your default input language installed…..
    Also, you can now change the default input language from the top menu. This is the language that your keyboard will start with when you boot your computer. So, if you mainly use English but also use another language, usually it is best to leave English as your default input language.”

    But the OK button is not active when I tried . What is the reason?

  22. Ameer

    Anyone, help Me pls!! I have a Big problem, same as Mosi..
    the login password for my account is a word in Arabic,
    but i cant switch between languages (EN to AR)
    even Alt+Shif doesnt work…
    there is no language Box on the screen…
    and no other options to change language..
    what do i have to do ?
    i need a way to switch lang to AR..then type in the password..
    otherwise i cant get in… T.T

  23. AJ

    Hi I’m getting the same issue as Ameer, except the language is in Korean. It’s been a couple days since I last checked my email. The problem is I can’t switch between languages. When I try it just types in English. I have family in Korea that do not understand English as this is my 1st language, and not theirs. I’ve troubleshooted as best as I could, such as removing the input language and such. I have even selected the on-screen keyboard just to get a visual of the keyboard. But it isn’t showing at all. 3rd I tried to system restore to an earlier time. That failed as well. I am not going to upgrade the OS just to get multiple input languages for Win 7. This is just frustrating. Ahhhhhh!
    Please help!

  24. Gordon

    Cool. Just got Thai input for my Windows 7. These instructions are flawless. I seldom comment on computer/internet instructions/tips. I am taking a moment here to do so because this is probably the first time I followed instructions and they worked exactly as promised. Usually there is a lot of futzing and putzing around required even with the “instructions” right in front of you. Not so here.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you….Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! May you be blessed unto the third, ney lets us say unto the fourth generation!!!

  25. irshad

    i have a window xp i have a problame that hindi lenguage are not showing in input language list what i do

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