Accessing Multilingual Fonts and Characters on Mac OS X

For occasional access the simplest way is to use an on-screen keyboard utility such as Character Map (Windows) or Character Palette (Mac OS X). These bring up a visual keyboard on screen for selecting characters.

For more extensive character input it is best to use change your language settings to allow you to use your keyboard.

Using the Character Palette (Mac OS X)

You can insert multilingual characters, letters with accent marks and special characters such as symbols into your documents using the Character Palette (Mac OS X). This utilities allow you to view the characters in a selected font, then copy/paste them into your document.

The Character Palette will appear in the Edit menu in any Mac OS X native application program.

1. Simply open an application, place your cursor at the desired place.

2. Select Edit > Special Characters. This will open the Character Palette.

3. Choose the type of characters you want to see from the View pop-up menu at the top of the Character Palette window.

4. Select an item in the list on the left to see the characters that are available in each category.

5. In the right column, double-click the character or symbol to insert it into your document.


mac osx character palatte


Note: The Character Palette menu item is only available in applications that were specifically designed to work with Mac OS X (native applications). You can open the Character Palette using International preferences. Choose the Apple menu > System Preferences, and select International. Next, select Input Menu, then select the checkbox next to Character Palette, and then choose Show Character Palette from the input menu in the menu bar (the one that looks like a flag or character).

Note: If the character doesn't appear in your document, you may be using an application that doesn't support that character. Try a different character or try to insert it in a different application.

For more information on the Character Palette in Mac OS X, click here.

Using Your Keyboard to Input Different Languages (Mac OS X)

Mac OS X allows you to write text in many languages, and to use fonts with multilingual character sets. The language you write in can be different from the language that your menus and dialogs are in, and even different from the characters on the keyboard you're using.

1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, and select International.

2. Select Input Menu, and then select the desired keyboard layout or input method by selecting its checkbox.

3. Open an application program, then select the keyboard layout or input method for the desired language from the input menu at the right side of the menu bar.

4. Start typing.


- If you don't know what keys to press, choose Show Keyboard Viewer from the input menu.

- Not all applications support all languages. If the keyboard layout or input method is dimmed (not available) in the input menu, the current application doesn't support that language.

For more information on international keyboard layout in Mac OS X, click here.

Notes on using multilingual fonts:

Once installed, the keyboards can be activated and used in most applications. Usually you have to toggle the keyboard from the default by using a toolbar or similar.

It should be noted that not all applications support proper Arabic & Hebrew text layout (right-to-left, diacritical mark placement), and a font will not fix that.