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…

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 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, shown immediately above.

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.