Welcome to Usable Keyboard Layouts for Windows

Introduction

With the standard international keyboard layouts shipped with Microsoft Windows it is very easy to enter accented characters: press the accent and then press the letter. But entering the characters to which the dead keys for the accents have been assigned becomes more difficult: press the accent and then press space. And as these accents are used more often than accented characters by many users, the standard keyboard layouts are far from usable.

The keyboard layouts of this project make it a lot more convenient to enter accented characters. It uses almost the same convention as (used to be) used by Microsoft Word. Dead keys are activated using a keystroke which normally does not produce a character. This way all the normal keys keep working as expected, and accented characters can be entered quickly and conveniently.

In addition to being able to enter accented characters the keyboard also makes it easy to enter a number of symbols quickly.

Keyboard behavior

Before you download and install the keyboard layouts, please make sure you understand the changes to the behavior of the keyboard described below. This is standard Windows behavior and cannot be changed, so do not enter bug reports for it:

Available keyboard layouts

The following keyboard layouts are provided by this project. Please make sure you use the keyboard layouts only if it matches your keyboard. For example, US (Usable International) can only be used with US keyboards. Click on the name to download the PDF manual:

Downloading and installing

You can download the installers and the source code for the keyboard layouts from the file list of the project at SourceForge.net. After downloading the installer, follow these steps:

  1. Run the installer. This will install the keyboard layout but will not activate it.
  2. Open regional and language options from the control panel, go to the languages tab and click on details.
  3. Click add, select your language for input language, and select the name of the keyboard layout that you installed for keyboard layout. Click ok.
  4. Select your language - name of keyboard layout in field default input language. Click apply.
  5. If you don't use the other keyboard layouts anymore you can remove them.
  6. Click ok.

If you download the source you have to build the installer yourself. See building below.

Manual

The manual contains three columns for each defined keystroke:

  1. The character you want to produce. Light grey backgrounds indicate dead keys and show the accent or base character that the character you want to produce should have.
  2. The key to press to produce the character. If you need to press shift to get the character displayed normally, you have to use shift in combination with the right-Alt or Ctrl+Alt too.
  3. This column is only used for dead keys and shows the keys that can be pressed in combination with the dead key.

For example, if you want to produce a u with an umlaut () with the US (Usable International) keyboard layout you have to:

  1. Hold right-Alt+Shift/Ctrl+Alt+Shift and press the sinqle quote key.
  2. Press the u key.

Source

The source of the keyboard layouts are the files used by the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creater (see building below). They are text files encoded using little endian UTF-16 with a byte-order mark, so they can be edited with a Unicode-capable text editor too.

The source is kept in a Subversion repository. Instructions on how to access the source repository using a Subversion client are available on SourceForge.net.

Building

To build the installers for the keyboard layouts from source you need the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. This tool is available for free to users of Windows.


The project page of Usable Keyboard Layouts for Windows at SourceForge.net