How to Switch Keyboard Languages, Plus Multilingual MacBook Hacks

According to statistics, more than half of the world's population is bilingual. Whether you are learning a new language or are fluent in several, it's useful to know how to change your keyboard. In addition to switching your keyboard digitally, using physical guides such as keyboard stickers and keyboard covers can help.

Related: How to Pair & Use a Bluetooth Mouse, Trackpad & Magic Keyboard with Your iPad

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How to Add a Keyboard Language on a Mac

Apple offers a wide variety of keyboards that can be added to your device. Many language-specific keyboards will even offer different options. For example, under English, you can use the modern QWERTY keyboard, the Colemak keyboard, Dvorak keyboard, or a country-specific alternative.

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  1. Click the Apple Button.

    Click the Apple icon on your Mac
  2. Select System Preferences.

    Select System Preferences to edit your settings
  3. Click on Keyboard.

    Select keyboard to change language settings.
  4. Go to Input Sources.

    Select input sources to add languages on your Mac
  5. Click the plus icon.

    Click the plus icon to add languages on your Mac
  6. Select the language you wish to add.

    Select the language you wish to add to your Mac keyboard
  7. Select Add.

    Click add to add the new language to your keyboard.

You can add several different keyboards to your Mac. For example, you can have an English keyboard, Arabic keyboard, and Russian keyboard. To learn more about Mac keyboards, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

How to Switch Between Languages

We all know how frustrating it can be to deal with Apple keyboard settings. (Anyone ever try to turn off predictive text?)It can be frustrating to go into your keyboard settings every time you want to change languages. If you are frequently working with documents in various languages, you can opt to automatically switch to a document's input source Just tick the box in the Input Sources tab in your keyboard settings.

If you're switching between languages more frequently and within the same document, you can use a keyboard shortcut instead. Press the Control and Space buttons simultaneously to select the language you wish to use.

Use a Keyboard Cover

Changing your keyboard language allows you to type in another alphabet. However, you will still see your regular QWERTY lettering on your physical keyboard. It is possible and extra impressive to memorize everything and type without looking. Or, you can get a keyboard cover to make life easier. 

Silicone keyboard covers are great because they are super thin. They can be applied and removed in seconds. In addition to being practical, they keep your keyboard clean. If you shop around, you can find beautiful designs or simple see-through ones with just the alphabet. 


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to apply and remove
  • Protects your keyboard
  • Can be decorative


  • Can take away from Mac's sleekness
  • Not universal, they are model-specific
  • Can only use two languages at a time

Laptop Keyboard Stickers

Transparent stickers with letters or symbols on them are another great solution. You can even layer your stickers as long as the letters or characters aren't overlapping to see multiple alphabets at once.


  • Inexpensive 
  • Can layer multiple alphabets
  • It keeps a classic keyboard aesthetic
  • Universal


  • Hard to apply and remove
  • It might peel off after some time

A Separate Plug-In or Bluetooth Keyboard

Finally, it is also possible to get a separate keyboard in a different alphabet to connect to your Mac. You can use a Bluetooth keyboard or a regular plug-in keyboard for your second (or third) language.


  • You can pick your favorite style of keyboard, e.g., ergonomic 
  • It doesn't permanently alter your Mac keyboard
  • Easy to connect and disconnect
  • Universal


  • Expensive
  • Not space-efficient
  • Annoying to switch
  • Clunky aesthetic
  • Not so portable

Knowing how to change your keyboard language is useful if you are multilingual. Digitally adding an input language will allow you to type in other alphabets. However, it helps to have physical guides such as keyboard stickers and keyboard covers. These can help you work with different languages efficiently and with confidence.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life. In the last 10 years, she has been published in dozens of publications internationally and won an excellence award. Since joining iPhone Life in 2020, she has written how-to articles as well as complex guides about Apple products, software, and apps. Olena grew up using Macs and exploring all the latest tech. Her Maui home is the epitome of an Apple ecosystem, full of compatible smart gear to boot. Olena’s favorite device is the Apple Watch Ultra because it can survive all her adventures and travels, and even her furbabies.