Go to the Russian language version of this page

How to modify Phonetic Russian keyboard layout under Windows

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

In the "Typing Russian on any keyboard: standard and phonetic layout" section of my site I offer a phonetic (homophonic, transliterated) layout of Russian keyboard.

If you want to create a slightly different Phonetic layout, then instead of creating your own layout 'from scratch', it would be much faster and safer to install mine first and then modify it.

It will also help to avoid problems if your system is Windows 2000/XP and newer - Windows does not let you easily modify its native keyboard layout file kbdru.dll: in my layout instruction I deliberately decided do not touch Windows-own layout file kbdru. Instead I create my own with a different name and then register it as a keyboard layout for "Russian" language.

Below are the images of my Phonetic layouts - see for yourself if it's Ok for you or not (in the 2nd part of this page I explain how to modify my layout).

I offer three variants, where last two differ only in the location of Russian letter 'zh':
one has Russian 'zh' assigned to 'v' and another has it assigned to 'w':

Variant 1. "Student" layout Student Phonetic Russian keyboard layout

Variant 2. "YaWert" layout YaWert Phonetic Russian keyboard layout

Variant 3. "YaZHert" layout YaZHert 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.

Reminder: the installation instruction for my layout is given in the "Typing Russian on any keyboard: standard and phonetic layout" section of my site "Cyrillic (Russian): instructions for Windows and Internet".

If you are not satisfied with neither of the variants shown above:

Modification of Phonetic Russian layout

The rules are different for different Windows versions -
  (a) 95/98/ME; (b) 2000/NT; (c) XP and newer (2003, Vista, Windows 7,8)
so choose yours by clicking on the corresponding link below.

Note: for XP/2003 only. If you activated Phnonetic layout for XP or Windows 2003 by reading my instructions before February 2007, that is, you manually copied kbd1251y.dll file to needed folder instead of running automatic installation of Phonetic layout, then you must Modify it also using "old" method", that is, do NOT click on "XP and newer" link below, but click on 2000/NT link below:
it's still that "old" way of modification there (for layouts installed by "old" method).


Modification of Phonetic Russian layout under Windows 95/98/ME

You need to download a freeware layout editor Janko's Keyboard Generator and install it.
Then find kbd1251y.KBD in c:\Windows\System and copy it to the folder where layout editor has been installed.

Call the editor and open that keyboard layout file in it.
Do needed modifications and exist the editor. Now copy modified kbd1251y.KBD from the editor's folder back to c:\Windows\System overriding old file.


Modification of Phonetic Russian layout under Windows 2000 and NT 4.0

If - after you install my phonetic layout (that is, layout file kbd1251y is already registered in the system as "Russian") - you decide that you want to change a location for some Russian letters, then read below how you do it.

Note. After you modify the layout, you can bring modified file kbd1251y to other computers and install there phonetic layout by following my original instruction - same steps just with modified file.

Here are the steps to modify my phonetic layout:

After the re-start, your variant of Russian phonetic layout will be in effect.

Important! If you used the above instructions to have your own layout, but then for some reason decide to uninstall KLM editor:
you need to know that KLM - during its uninstallation process - erases that file and replaces it with the original one, thus you can loose all your modifications!
To avoid that, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Find your current keyboard layout file (one you used in KLM to modify)
    For example, assume that you modified my layout file kbd1251y.dll under Windows 2000, thus you have now modified kbd1251y.dll - it's in the System32 sub-folder of your main Windows folder
    (which is C:\WinNT).

    Copy that file to some other folder, say, C:\Temp.

  2. You can uninstall KLM editor now
  3. Copy that file (which you stored aside) back to System32 sub-folder.
    Using the example given is Step 1:
    copy kbd1251y.dll from C:\Temp to C:\WinNT\System32 and confirm when system asks your permission to override the existing file in that System32 folder.
  4. Log-off and then Log-in to Windows again.
It's how you keep the layout with your modifications while remobing KLM editor from your system.

This is the end of the instruction for Window 2000 and NT 4.0.


Modification of Phonetic Russian layout under Windows 7/8/10, XP/2003, Vista:
free keyboard layout editor from Microsoft - MSKLC
(Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator)

Note. This layout editor - MSKLC (current version is 1.4) does not work under Windows 8.0, but looks like it already works under 8.1. In any case, people reported that custom layouts made with MSKLC under Windows 7 or XP work just fine under Windows 8.
So you could - under Windows 7/XP - modify one of my phonetic layouts and re-position some letters (it's much easier than making your own layout from scratch), and then bring this new layout to Windows 8.

Step 1. It is not needed for Vista and Windows 7,8,10 (the software is already there) but is needed for XP/2003:
you need to install first "oriented for end user (not developer) MS .NET package".
It takes 5 minutes under XP, here is the place to download: MS .NET and then install it.

Step 2. Now, modification of my Phonetic Russian layout:

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