Cyrillic for Computers

This page covers the basics for converting your computer to use the Cyrillic alphabet.


For Windows Vista of 7

  1. Go to Control Panel, then Clock, Language, Region.
  2. Select Change Keyboards or Add Other Languages, Languages, Details. In the resulting Text Services and Input Languages dialog box, scroll down until you find Russian. OK your choice. You will also be given a chance to add a Russian keyboard layout, either Russian (the default) or Russian Typewriter. For the time being, take the default.
  3. Finally, you can create a shortcut key to switch between languages while typing. In the dialog above (on the Details tab) click Key Settings. The default switch between languages is Alt-Shift. You can change it to Ctrl-Shift if you wish.
  4. You now have a "native" Russian keyboard! The QWERTY line of the native Russian keyboard is ЙЦУКЕН. If you want a phonetic layout, or you need to alter other features, see the complete story on Windows Russianization. That site also helps you troubleshoot other problems, make sure your e-mail in Russian comes out right and set up accent marks for Cyrillic.

For Mac OSX

  1. From the Apple menu select System Preferences.
  2. Select International.
  3. At the top of the window you will see three options: Languages (which is already selected), Formats, and Input Menu. Select Input Menu.
  4. Scroll down the list of languages until you come to Russian. You will see that there are two: Russian and Russian - Phonetic. The difference between the two is that the Russian keyboard does not have letters in the same place as the English QWERTY keyboard. If you put a check next to Russian you will get the authentic Russian keyboard layout, but you'll probably have to buy some stickers to put on your keyboard so you know which letters are where. However, Russian - Phonetic solves this problem by placing most of the Russian letters in the same place as their English equivalents. This is the option that most students prefer. To see exactly how the keyboard layout is changed, you can also scroll back up to the top of the menu and select Keyboard Viewer.
  5. Once you make these selections, an American flag icon will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your screen next to the clock. Click on the Keyboard Viewer to see the current layout of your keyboard, then select either Russian or Russian - Phonetic. Congratulations! You can now type in Russian! To switch back to English, select English from the menu.
  6. Problems with Russian e-mail?

You can also create a keyboard shortcut to switch layouts without even touching the mouse. Here's how:

  1. Follow steps 1-3 from above.
  2. Underneath the list of languages you will see a section called "Input Menu Shortcuts." Click on the Keyboard Shortcuts button.
  3. Scroll down until you see a group of unchecked shortcuts under the heading "Input Menu." Check Input Menu.
  4. You'll see that there are yellow caution signs next to the shortcuts. This is because the default shortcuts for the input menu is already being used by Spotlight, the search function. All you have to do is change the shortcuts to something else. I chose the letter "R" because it's easy to remember when I want to use Russian, but you can use any shortcut you like.
  5. To use "R" as the shortcut, click on the shortcut next to the second command "Select the new input source in the Input Menu."(We'll do the first command next). Right now those symbols mean Apple-Option-Spacebar. When you click on the shortcut the text will be highlighted. Now hold down Apple-Option-R and release. Now whenever you want to switch to Russian or Russian - Phonetic, all you have to do is push Apple-Option-R. Use the command again and it will move through all the keyboard layouts you choose to put in your input menu.
  6. Moving back to the first command "Select the previous input source", click on the current shortcut, Apple-Spacebar, and hold down Apple-R and release. This will be your new shortcut to go back to whatever keyboard layout you were using before you made a change.