The Many Languages of OS X Text

Apple has always taken pride in its language-friendliness. You can shift from language to language on the fly, as you type, even in midsentence—without reinstalling the operating system or even restarting the computer.

OS X’s facility with language, though, goes the extra overseas mile. It lets you type vertical Japanese and Chinese text; includes fonts for 20 more non-Roman alphabets (including the ones you need for five Indian languages); offers “filtering by tones, ordering and filtering by radical or stroke count, and improved pinyin-han conversion accuracy” (you have to be a Chinese speaker to appreciate those tweaks); and much more.

First, tell your Mac which languages you’d like to have available. Open System Preferences→Language & Region. You see a listing of the languages the Mac can switch into, in the corresponding languages—Français, Español, and so on. Just drag one of the languages to the top of the list to select it as your primary language, as shown in Figure 6-8.


You can mix English with right-to-left languages like Hebrew and Arabic. There’s even a split-cursor option that makes the pointer flip directions at the boundary between right-to-left and left-to-right text.

Now launch Safari, TextEdit, Mail, or Stickies. Every menu, button, and dialog box is now in the new language you selected! If you log out and back in (or restart) at this point, the entire Finder will be in the new language, too.


Programs differ widely in their “language ...

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