Go to the Russian language version of this page

Russian keyboard, standard and phonetic:

type Russian with system keyboard tools under non-Russian Windows -

layout - standard  or  phonetic (transliterated, homophonic - A-A,K-K,O-O,...)



Paul Gorodyansky 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'



You can tune-up - for Russian input - regular system keyboard tools of say English or German MS Windows.




NOTE. Recently there were many complains that one could NOT write in Russian in Internet Explorer - in the text input fields on Web pages.
A user inputs Russian text in a usual way but sees something like this on screen:
..............38B5 G09=8:C

This is not related to Cyrillic tune-up of your computer. It means that a plugin connected to your browser causes such thing.
I have here an instruction where I collect related information and offer some solutions:
      Internet Explorer: gibberish on display while typing Russian




This page provides Russian keyboard activation instructions for MS Windows, that is, enabling regular system keyboard tools for Russian via Control Panel.



Also, if you want, it shows you how to use - instead of the standard Russian layout - a so called phonetic (transliterated, homophonic) layout ('A'-'A', 'F' - Russian 'F', 'K'-'K', 'O'-'O', etc.), which by the way, is modifiable, that is, you can change my phonetic layout as you wish.



Same things for Linux, Macintosh, and gadgets (Apple and Android) are covered on other people pages and I provide the links at the end of this page, in the chapter "Final notes about Russian keyboard usage".








Typing Russian when system tune-up cannot be done:
at work or in a hotel's business center Windows or Mac computer



If you need to write in Russian, but you are not using your own PC, say you are in an Internet-cafe or in the library, where you can read Russian but can not write - cannot use Windows Control Panel to enable system keyboard tools for Russian, then it's still Ok, there is an easy work-around:

you can use special Web page with a Virtual Keyboard where you can input Cyrillic text (using mouse or physical keyboard) and then copy it to the place where you need it.

That is, even in that case you should not send a transliteration, latin text such as "privet" or "schast'ye" that will bother the readers of that message - no, you can send normal Cyrillic text.

Virtual Keyboard allows you to input via regular keyboard (though mouse can be used, too) and - important! - you can type "as at home", choosing, in the menu below the image, same layout (Standard or Phonetic) that you use at home!

Please see for yourself:   "On-screen, virtual Russian keyboard"

While in Internet-cafe, you can use a short address of that Virtual Keyboard:

Obviously, it's not as handy as typing with regular Windows or Mac keyboard tools, so you should use such special Web page only in such 'corner case' as Internet-cafe or library (or if you need to type Russian not too often).

That is, if it's your own computer at home then you should spend 20 minutes - one time! - to read the instruction on this page, for regular Windows keyboard tools activation via Control Panel (with standard or phonetic Russian keyboard layout).






How to install Microsoft keyboard layout for Russian under Windows 7/8, Vista; XP/2003.



This page has the instructions for the two different layouts to be used with "RU" mode of the keyboard(typing Russian Cyrillic):






What is Russian phonetic (transliterated, homophonic) keyboard layout

    
Here is the picture of the Standard MS Windows keyboard layout for Russian, made for the countries of the former USSR where keyboards always have Russian letters drawn on them:

Standard Russian keyboard layout



If you do not have a keyboard with Russian letters drawn on it and/or you are not familiar at all with that Standard layout, then you cannot easily type without memorizing all the locations of the keys in Russian.

In this case many people use another layout, called phonetic (transliterated, homophonic) keyboard layout:

the Russian letters are located where the closest English letters are:

    'O'-'O', 'A'-'A', 'T'-'T', Russian '' - English 'F', etc.

 
This page offers such Phonetic keyboard layout for your computer (it will work in "RU" mode instead of Standard layout) and has step-by-step activation instruction for that.

The instruction for adding a file (not a program!) of Russian phonetic layout to the system takes a computer novice about 20 minutes and is a one-time job.

Windows offers to have several keyboard layouts for one language, so there are no "hack" below, just Microsoft-suggested way of adding new layout to the system...
It's easy to get back original stage - to make Standard layout work again with "RU" (covered below). Here is an example of a Phonetic layout (it's modifiable as explained below):

YaWert Phonetic Russian keyboard layout

Note. Your physical keyboard may have different layout of "Enter" button. Then you should find the button shown right above "Enter" on my picture somewhere else on your keyboard.

Important.
I do not offer here any keyboard program that say lets you type in Phonetic mode, no - just files - keyboard layout files that will be used by system input software - along with the instructions on how to make such layout work in "RU" mode.

These files work with the built-in MS Windows keyboard tools, that is, they work exactly as original layout files provided by Microsoft, no additional software is required.



Note, that the majority of Russian letters - 26 of 33 (!) have straight-forward, 'used-by-everyone' phonetic equivalent - Russian '' is always represented by English 'A', '' - 'K', 'O'- 'O', '' - 'B', '' - 'D', etc.
So just 7-8 Russian letters has to be assigned to some non-letter keyboard buttons, say '' could be assigned to '{' (modifiable, you can change my variant).

The point is that there are ONLY 7-8 such letters and one memorizes their location on a keyboard in just a week of use...


 


  

How to install phonetic (transliterated, homophonic) Russian keyboard layout
for 32/64 bit Windows 7,8/Vista/XP/2003



Note. I personally don't have Windows 8 yet, but several people already wrote to me that this instruction works just fine under Windows 8.
There is only one - cosmetic - option that does not work for the newly added phonetic layout:

But again, it does not affect your typing at all. You can see the image of the phonetic layout in this instruction when I offer to see the images of all offered phonetic layouts for you to choose one.

Free Software Download - Windows 7 Download



If you already know what Phonetic layout is and just want to start installing it on your computer, then you can skip the explanations below and go at once to the installation details.

 
My phonetic layout (that is, a variant of positioning Russian letters on the keyboard) has the following characteristics:

                Here is the picture of my phonetic keyboard layout:

YaWert Phonetic Russian keyboard layout

Symbol 'number' - - that a standard Russian layout has, can be obtained on phonetic layout, too - via a combination of buttons: Ctrl/Alt/5. Symbol currency Euro - via a combination of buttons Ctrl/Alt/E.

If you want to use your printer to have this picture on paper then visit this page (will open in new window).


 
I did not personally design this variant of placing Russian letters on the keyboard, I just took one of many variants that I found on the Web and modified it.
Most of phonetic layout variants have been around for years.

Different variants were accepted by different groups of users, for example, users of then-popular editor ChiWriter used one variant, users of another program - ChemText - used another, etc.
I took as a basis a widely used variant called YaWert.
The name comes from the first few letters in what is the QWERTY line of the U. S. keyboard.

If you'd like to use a different variant of placing Russian letters, then you can modify my layout after the installation (it's discussed near the end of this page, in the "Modify" chapter).

    

Optional variants. Ready answer for one frequently asked question.

In addition to my main variant of Phonetic layout (see again the image right above), I've prepared two more because they are almost as often used by people as that main one, so such people would not need to spend time modifying my main layout to obtain one of these two also-famous variants:


 
Below are the instructions for the installation of my phonetic keyboard layout

for Windows 7,8/Vista/XP/2003



Keyboard stuff is kind of system-level stuff, it's Operating System tools and therefore it requires a little bit more effort and knowledge than say making browser to read Russian Web pages, so be patient.

Important! About Windows XP and newer versions.

To be able to activate such phonetic keyboard layout for Russian to have it work as "RU", you must login to Windows as a system Administrator (has to have Administrative Rights).

On home computers it's not an issue - an owner is always an Administrator :-) but at work it is an issue sometimes.
For those who are at work - it's NOT a network Administrator Rights, it's Administrator Rights only to that specific computer, so you can ask your IT person to grant you such Administrative Rights to that computer.
In any case please refer to the system manual or your IT group to understand this "be an Administrator" issue (it is not related to using Russian, so I can not explain it completely).

 
Let's start the activation of phonetic Russian layout.

First thing you need to do is to check whether Windows considers you a complete novice smile or not:




  

 

DOWNLOAD

Before you download my files, you need to create a new directory(folder) to keep them, for example, create a new folder called RUS-Y.

I have created a single file (.zip archive) for each of phonetic layout variants

Below are the links to download .zip files and then it will be explained what to do after the download.
         
copying To download this archive file, just click on the file name for your version of Windows and - a must - choose "Save" option and not "Open".
Save the file to this newly created directory(folder) - RUS-Y.

Now, download the file for your version of Windows:

 
green ball Variants of Russian phonetic keyboard layout for Windows 7/8, Vista, XP, 2003:




Now you have my .ZIP with Phonetic layout files inside.

 

Phonetic installation Part 2 - for Windows 7,8/Vista and XP/2003
(Part 1 showed how to download .ZIP with needed files)

Here are the steps for a user of Windows XP/2003 or Vista/Windows 7,8:

That's it! Now if you switch to "RU" you'd work with Phonetic layout.



If you already activated Standard layout before, you need to remove it (from the list of active layout, not from the system) to have just Phonetic layout working as "RU" (only one layout can be "active" for an Input Language).

Control Panel / "Regional and Language Options" - "Languages" tab - "Details" button
(under Vista - "Keyboard and Languages" tab and "Change Keyboard" button) -
  if you see there that for language "Russian" you have two active layouts - "Russian" and "Russian Phonetic - WinRus.com"
(under Vista you need to click on '+' next to word "Russian" to see active layouts),
then place cursor to "Russian" layout line (which is right above "Russian Phonetic - WinRus.com") and click on "Remove".



How to UNinstall my Phonetic keyboard layout

Click again on the same   setup.exe   -
it will offer you two options - "Remove" and "Repair". Click on "Remove", wait a little bit and you'll see a message that "Russian Phonetic - WinRus.com" layout was successfully uninstalled.

Or you can just remove Phonetic layout from the list of active layouts, choosing another layout as 'active' for "RU".




   

MODIFICATION of my Phonetic layout

As I mentioned above, I did not personally design this variant of placing Russian letters on the keyboard, I just took as a basis the widely used (for years) variant called YaWERT.

If you are not satisfied with my placement of the Russian letters on the keyboard, then you can modify my phonetic layout.

This is my instructional page for such modification, it's on a separate page:   "How to modify Phonetic Layout"


   

Final notes about Russian keyboard usage

You have now active Russian keyboard layout and can start typing Russian!  
Did you find this useful? You can make a donation by clicking here
(opens in new window):




  
Important.
Some text editors and all older software (for example, MS Word 6) require 2 steps to type in Russian:
  1. Select the appropriate Cyrillic font from the fonts list
  2. Switch keyboard to Russian mode
New, Unicode-based programs (MS Word 97/2000, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Netscape/Mozilla, etc.) do not require Step 1 - selecting a font, if you use a Unicode font (which is the preferred way of working with these programs).

Unicode font is a very large font and contains letters of many different alphabets, including Western European, Russian, Greek, etc. It was explained in details in my Fonts and Encodings section mentioned at the beginning of this page.

These modern programs use a new approach for typing that is based on the language of the keyboard (non-Unicode programs require a user to choose a national font first).
If you work with a Unicode font such as "Arial" or "Times New Roman" then these modern Unicode-based applications let you input your own text as follows:

It's even more obvious in a Web browser - you don't see any font window at all, you just switch the keyboard to Russian and start typing.






Typing Russian when system tune-up cannot be done:
at work or in a hotel's business center Windows or Mac computer



If you need to write in Russian, but you are not using your own PC, say you are in an Internet-cafe or in the library, where you can read Russian but can not write - cannot use Windows Control Panel to enable system keyboard tools for Russian, then it's still Ok, there is an easy work-around:

you can use special Web page with a Virtual Keyboard where you can input Cyrillic text (using mouse or physical keyboard) and then copy it to the place where you need it.

That is, even in that case you should not send a transliteration, latin text such as "privet" or "schast'ye" that will bother the readers of that message - no, you can send normal Cyrillic text.

Virtual Keyboard allows you to input via regular keyboard (though mouse can be used, too) and - important! - you can type "as at home", choosing, in the menu below the image, same layout (Standard or Phonetic) that you use at home!

Please see for yourself:   "On-screen, virtual Russian keyboard"

While in Internet-cafe, you can use a short address of that Virtual Keyboard:

Obviously, it's not as handy as typing with regular Windows or Mac keyboard tools, so you should use such special Web page only in such 'corner case' as Internet-cafe or library (or if you need to type Russian not too often).

That is, if it's your own computer at home then you should spend 20 minutes - one time! - to read the instruction on this page, for regular Windows keyboard tools activation via Control Panel (with standard or phonetic Russian keyboard layout).






  


Typing Russian if it's not a Windows computer (regular and phonetic keyboard layouts)

Macintosh, Linux, gadgets/tablet PCs - iPad/IPhone, Android



Apple Macintosh: regular and phonetic keyboard layouts for Russian

OOB English Mac computers already have both types of Russian keyboard layouts - regular and phonetic. Regular type has 2 variants - Mac-own and "Windows PC" that is, almost the same as under MS Windows.

Here is my page about all this, but it's only in Russian (I am sure English speakers who work with Mac can figure out keyboard layouts settings there themselves):

" : ; '' "



There is a freeware Layout Editor for Mac and you can re-position letters and symbols if you wish (say, make Phonetic layout for French keyboard):

Ukelele - Mac layout editor


Unix / Linux: regular and phonetic keyboard layouts for Russian typing


 

Russian keyboard layouts - standard and phonetic - for gadgets (smartphones, etc) and tablet PCs

Note.
On many gadgets there is a common way to get Russian letter '' - press Russian '' and holde more than a second. You'll see '' in drop-down frame.



Related links - iPad (and iPhone):



Related links - Android:



End of the chapter "Final notes about Russian keyboard usage"


Paul Gorodyansky. 'Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet'