The United States-International keyboard layout for Windows
by Steven Marzuola
- Do you work in English and in another language from western Europe? (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, ...)
- Does your Windows computer have a US-style keyboard?
If you answered "Yes" to both questions, you should use the "United
- It works in all Windows
programs: email, Word, Excel, Paint, web browsers, and TM programs.
- Non-English characters are
produced with little extra effort,
many times equivalent to using a native language keyboard.
- There is
very little memorization, no arbitrary numbers (e.g.
compared to Alt-codes).
- Most people
can leave it set at all times. It does not
interfere with working in English,
except for one minor disadvantage (mentioned below). There's no reason
to switch back and forth with another keyboard.
- The characters
shown on each key can still be obtained using
that key. In other words, each key still produces its US English
equivalent. If you install a Swedish, Spanish, or other keyboard
layout but retain the physical US keyboard, the characters produced
by the keyboard will not match what is printed on the top of the keys.
- Free, built into Windows. Nothing extra to buy or
How it works:
certain keys become "prefix" or
"dead" keys. It's similar to how accent marks are typed on mechanical
When followed by a letter that can take an accent mark, this sequence
creates the accented characters. Examples: á, ü,
è, ô, ñ.
This may be confusing at first,
because nothing is
visible on screen after the first key press.
The combination character is not displayed until the second key is
pressed to complete the sequence.
the next character does not take an accent mark, then the prefix
sequence is aborted and two consecutive
characters are obtained. For example: since there is no letter p with a
~ on top,
the key sequence ~ p will produce the separate characters ~p.
the behavior of the right-hand "Alt" key is modified. Hold the Right
key and press other
letter or number keys to obtain a wide variety of other letters and
accents. Some of them are duplicates of
the "prefix" combinations, others are new. Here are some of the letters
you can obtain (the last ones use the
How to get the new characters:
In this image, the regular keys/characters are shown in black. "Dead"
or "prefix" keys are in blue, and the characters obtained with the
Shift-Right-Alt key (shown here as "Alt-Gr", or "Alt-Graphic") are in
red. These are the uppercase versions.
Only two that I can
think of (in 20 years):
- Microsoft makes this option hard to find!
- If you want to
type one of the “dead”
characters: " ` ' ^ ~
you can get
unexpected results if the next character goes with that accent. To
avoid this, press a space immediately after such a keystroke.
How to install:
- For Windows 10:
Click Start, Settings, to open the "Time &
On the left side, select "Region &
At the bottom right, select "Additional date,
time, & regional settings".
On the right side, under "Language", select
"Change input methods"
On the row that says, "English (United States),
Under "Input method", select "Add an input
Search and click on the option, "United
States-International". Then click "Add".
"Input method", on the row for "US", click "Remove".
Click "Save", and close the settings windows."
- For Windows
- For Windows
XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7
Last revised: May 8, 2016
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