Language Keyboards on Chromebook

When we purchase a Chromebook, we usually have to setup our machine the first time its used. Part of this setup process includes the selection of the language used on the machine. In America that language is usually English. When we set the language on a machine, this sets the language for the information that is displayed, and it also sets the keyboard layout. On computers in America, that’s usually the QWERTY keyboard layout.

The keyboard configuration is something we rarely think about unless you happen to speak or write in more than one language. On occasion those of us that need to write in more than one language might need to adjust the keyboard layout so we can access characters used in other languages. These characters could include simple accent marks or complex characters like those in Russian or Japanese.

Chromebook allows us to add more keyboard languages very easily. In this lesson we will learn how to add more keyboard languages, how to switch between those keyboard languages and how to use an onscreen keyboard.

We can add more keyboard languages through Chromebook settings. Click once on the task bar and select settings.

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When the settings pane opens, click on show advanced settings at the bottom.

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Find the languages section and click on the languages and input settings button.

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A pane will open with the current keyboard languages available on your Chromebook. In this example that happens to be English. To add other keyboard languages we need to click the add button.

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A dialogue box with a pull down menu will open. The languages are listed alphabetically. Click the pull down menu and scroll down to find a language.

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In this example I will select Russian.

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Once the language is selected, click the Ok button to confirm.

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On the right side of the language list are options for this language. Some of the options include the option to display Chrome in this language and to translate pages into this language. We can select an input method, which is our keyboard option. There are several keyboard input options. We can select one or more of these keyboard input methods.

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In this example I’ll select the Russian keyboard option.

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We can add more languages if needed. In this example, I’ll add Chinese too. After adding languages, close the settings pane.

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We can switch between keyboard input methods by clicking on the task bar and moving to the keyboard menu option. In this example US Keyboard is selected. Click once to display the other keyboard options.

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A list of the keyboards we added will be shown. We can switch to another keyboard by clicking on it once.

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In the task bar we will see that our currently selected language is Russian.

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This is one way we can switch between keyboard input methods. It could be time consuming and inconvenient. A faster way to switch between keyboards is to use the following shortcut keys. Press Alt + Shift to cycle through the different keyboard options. You can also press Ctrl + Spacebar to switch back and forth between the last two keyboards and languages.

Switching between keyboard input methods is great, but the physical keyboard hasn’t changed. Unless you’ve memorized the keys, there is no way for you to know where each character is located. For example, on a QWERTY keyboard there is no way to know which letter to press for a character in another language.

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Chromebook provides the option to display an onscreen keyboard which can be used to help find those characters. To enable the onscreen keyboard, go to settings.

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Click on show advanced settings.

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Scroll down to the accessibility section and place a check mark on enable on-screen keyboard. Close the settings pane.

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In the task bar we will see a keyboard icon. Let’s click once on the icon to display the on-screen keyboard.

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The keyboard will display on the bottom of the screen. The keyboard that is currently selected is the US Keyboard. We can use the same keyboard shortcuts to switch between on-screen keyboard layouts.

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If you don’t like keyboard shortcuts, click on the three dots next to the on-screen space bar to see a list of keyboards. Click on one of the keyboards to switch to that keyboard.

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You can hide the on-screen keyboard buy clicking the hide keyboard icon in the lower right.

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