Russian Keyboards

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Russian Keyboards in XP and Vista

In the GW labs, Cyrillic keyboards layouts are already installed. Skip this section and go to Cyrillic in GW Computer Labs. Important: For some versions of XP, you need the original Windows disk!

Step 1. Go to regional options.

Open Start -> Settings -> Control Panel and then open Regional Options -> Languages -> Details.


Step 2: In the resulting dialog Text Services and Input Languages, click Add.

Scroll through the list and look for Cyrillic. You might be prompted to insert your original Windows CD, although for most computers this will not happen.

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.

Finally, you can create a shortcut key to switch between languages while typing. In the dialog pictured above (Start -> Settings -> Control Panel and then open Regional Options -> Languages -> Details) click Key Settings. The default switch between languages. Is Alt-Shift. You can change it to Ctrl-Shift if you wish. There is also a setting for switching keyboards within a language (for example, English users could switch between the QWERTY keyboard and the Dvorak keyboard). For the time being, don't bother with this setting. Let it be whatever Widows wants it to be.
You now have a Russian keyboard… But…

1. Does the Microsoft Russian keyboard seem to be chaotic...?

By default Microsoft installs a "real" Russian keyboard, whose layout looks like this:

Many students prefer a phonetic keyboard that more or less follows English, like this:


Which keyboard should you use?

If you plan to spend time in Russia on a study tour and/or an internship, you'll eventually have to learn the real Russian "Gosstandart" keyboard. So why not start now. On the other hand, if you will will not be using computers in Russia, you can safely stick to the QWERTY phonetic keyboard.


How to Switch Keyboard Layouts

How to switch layouts depends on how old your computer is. Some versions of Vista, Apple OS 10.x, and Linux have shown up with Phonetic keyboard options. If when installing a keyboard, you see a Russian Phonetic option, and you want that keyboard, choose it, and you're done. But if that option is not available, try either of these sites:

  • Paul Gorodyansky's comprehensive site. It covers just about every known issue with Cyrillic for Windows and Vista. This site also features a virtual keyboard: you can type Cyrillic on a public (Internet cafe) computer without installing a thing!
  • Russian for Gringos offers phonetic keyboard layouts for XP, Vista and Linux.


Customizing Your Keyboard

If you don't like any of the keyboard layouts currently available, you can make your own. Download Microsoft's Keyboard Layout Creator, MSKLC 1.4.

  1. If you are running Vista, skip this step and go to Step 2. Download and install MS .NET 2.0.
  2. Download and install MSKLC 1.4
  3. Run MSKLC.
  4. File => Load existing keyboard. Find the keyboard you want to modify. When done, File => Save Source File As. This will create an intermediate .klc file (not the final keyboared file). Pay attention to where you are saving.
  5. Project => Build DLL and Setup package - MSKLC creates the DLL and installation package. Pay attention to where this file is being saved. It will be in a sub-folder of the place where you saved the .klc file from Step 4.
  6. Find the setup file in the sub-folder that was created it Step 5. Run setup. Then enjoy your new keyboard. If your new keyboard doesn't show up immediately. Go to Control Panel / Regional and Language Options - Languages tab - Details button. Uninstall the keyboard in question and then reinstall it.



Typing in Cyrillic on Other Computers

You're at work. For some strange reason, your employer doesn't agree to let you modify the Windows registry of the company's system to install Cyrillic. (How closed-minded of them!) Never fear. You can use a temporary on-screen keyboard to write Cyrillic – either phonetically or on the Gosstandart keyboard. The only inconvenience is that you have to write the text you want on screen and then copy and paste it into whatever you want (e-mail, Word document, etc.) This service is available through Paul Gorodyansky's On-Screen Cyrillic Keyboard.


Cyrillic in GW Computer Labs

GW computer labs are Cyrillic ready. Look for the Language Bar at the top of the screen or the abbreviated language bar at the bottom right of the screen in the System Tray. Right-click and pick Russian.

If you find you are missing the correct keyboard, activate it by following these steps:

  1. Go to Control Panel -> Regional and language Options -> languages tab -> details. Choose Add.
  2. From the dropdown menu, choose Russian as for the input language and Russian transliterated for the keyboard layout.
  3. OK everything.
  4. Test out the layout. Open Notepad and switch the keyboard to Russian (RU).Type the keys mru. On the screen, you should see мpy. If you do, then the installation is successful. If you do not, try rebooting. Then open Notepad and try the experiment again.