This guide covers the basics of how to type in Yiddish on a Macintosh computer. I specify “Mac” because the instructions require you to install Yiddish Klal, a QWERTY keyboard layout that I originally put together for personal use. (I also made a version for Chromebooks.) The keyboard has been tested on a MacBook Air running OSX Yosemite and a MacBook Pro running Sierra and Mojave. The keyboard is free to use and distribute (see license disclaimer below).
Note that this keyboard implements the standard Yiddish orthography endorsed by the YIVO (and codified in this book). If you would like to type without the YIVO diacritics, I recommend installing a phonetic Hebrew keyboard or the standard Israeli keyboard layout.
Please click here for a list of external resources based on Yiddish Klal.
(Last updated: June 21, 2021)
Step 1: Download the current version of Yiddish Klal (as of 7/26/2018: Version 1.4).
(It is not currently recommended [see note], but you may want to download the current version of Yiddish Klal Ligatur instead, as of 7/26/2018: Version 0.3).
Step 2: Unzip the file. This will produce what is called a “software bundle” with the same name. You should not attempt to open the bundle file.
Step 3: Open Finder. Navigate to Macintosh HD > Library > Keyboard Layouts.
If you have trouble finding this directory, open Finder, press Command ⌘+Shift+G, and then type in: /Library/Keyboard Layouts
Step 4: Drag Yiddish Klal.bundle from your Downloads folder into your Keyboard Layouts folder. You will probably need to enter your computer’s password to authenticate. Before continuing on to the next step, I suggest restarting your computer.
Step 5: Click the Apple logo () in the upper-left corner of your screen. Then System Preferences. Now, open up Keyboard and then select Input Sources. On the left side of the screen, click the + sign to add a language. You should see Yiddish on the list. (If not, you may need to restart your computer.) There, click Yiddish Klal (with its small komets-alef
Step 6: At this point, you are good to go. You can click on the flag near your computer’s clock/battery life meter to change languages. If you’d like to set a shortcut to switch between languages more quickly, you can do so in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Input Sources, and set a keyboard shortcut (e.g., Ctrl+Space) to Select the previous input source. This has the function of going back and forth, say, between the US English and Yiddish keyboards.
Now, how to use the keyboard.
The keyboard is largely phonetic:
If you would like to type final letters, hold shift:
Similarly, holding down shift will distinguish between a vov and a melupm vov, a yud and a khirek yud:
Doublets (when YIVO transliteration corresponds to multiple Yiddish characters):
Other letters will be less intuitive for those familiar with the YIVO system of transliteration, e.g., because it sometimes uses a combination of several Latin letters for a single Yiddish letter (e.g.,
Letter combinations in Yiddish:
Finally, useful punctuation:
I hope these instructions are enough to get you going!
Benefits of this keyboard over other layouts out there:
If you happen to use this keyboard to type in Hebrew or other Yiddish orthographies (not recommended, but workable), you will likely need to hit backspace in order to remove diacritics from certain letters. But bear in mind how you can access the following characters:
In September 2016, Google Docs introduced a bug such that it was no longer possible to input multiple Unicode characters with a single keystroke (e.g., typing a would normally yield
Yiddish Klal is based on the QWERTY keyboard layout used in the US. Toma Tasovac has adapted a version of Yiddish Klal for the QWERTZ layout, which may be useful to European users. Please contact him to report any bugs.
Samuel Lo has put together a keyboard layout that combines the character sets of Yiddish Klal and Yiddish Klal Ligatur (the latter accessible by pressing the ⌥ Option key), which may be useful to those developing software applications in Yiddish. Please contact him to report any bugs.
Yiddish Klal and Yiddish Klal Ligatur are free Standard Yiddish keyboard layouts created by Isaac L. Bleaman (bleaman [shtrudl] berkeley.edu). You can redistribute them and/or modify them under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. The layout is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.