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How to Switch a Keyboard Back to English

Updated July 20, 2017

When your computer keyboard stops being predictable, and pressing the "q" button gives you a Russian "ya" letter, or your "@" sign is suddenly in a different place, it can be a nightmare to type anything. Changing your keyboard back to English, however, is quite easy on any operating system.

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  1. Hover your mouse over the two capital initials that are found on your taskbar (on a standard layout: at the bottom of the screen). For example, if the taskbar shows "FR," the keyboard's language is set to French.

  2. If the letters on the taskbar are not visible, look for the language bar on the top of the screen, which will show two capital initials, a language, country, help button and drop down button e.g. FR French (France).

  3. Left-click on the initials and select the "EN" (desired country) from the drop-down list. Keyboards between English speaking countries can be different and you should select the appropriate country. If there is no EN option available, left-click on Options, then click on Settings and then on Add. Choose your required EN input language and EN keyboard layout.

  4. To change via the keyboard hot keys, hold the keys left ALT and SHIFT to quickly shift through your various languages, or go to Options in the language bar, select Key Settings, chose your desired version of EN and left-click Change Key Sequence. This will prompt you to choose your own shortcut to change the keyboard to that language.

  5. Alternatively, Microsoft says you should "click Start, then type intl.cpl into the search box, go to the Keyboards and Languages tab, click keyboards, then add your chosen version of EN by selecting it and clicking OK. Then click on the default input language, select your chosen EN and click OK twice. In the Regional and Language Options dialogue box, click OK."

  6. If none of the above steps work, click on Settings and choose Restore Default. This should switch the keyboard to EN (U.S. American) English and allow you to manually add any other EN languages using Steps 1-3.

  7. Tip

    For Windows XP users, following Step 4, "start search" will appear as Run and "keyboards and languages" will be Languages. After selecting Languages, left-click Details and then Add under Installed services. Then follow the above step. According to Apple, Mac users should "select System Preferences and click on International. Drag your EN variant to the top of the list or find it using Edit. Select a text behaviour for the script and then click on the Keyboard Menu tab to select keyboard and input methods." For Linux users, select Files > My Documents > File > Terminal > xfterm4 and find XkbLayout. Change the initials shown here to "us" or "uk" or any other EN version and save. Change the "nationality" in another place. Begin the opening process again and in the terminal write: "sudo mouse pad /etc/X11/xorg.conf". Here find the row named "Keyboard layout," and either change the initials or place a comma between initials. Save and reboot. If you frequently change to another language, consider investing in stickers showing the appropriate letters in that language.


    Make certain your input and layout settings are compatible, otherwise your keys might type differently to your desired language.

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Things You'll Need

  • Letter stickers (optional)

About the Author

Luke Ritchie

Based in London, Luke Ritchie started writing professionally in 2009. His articles have appeared in "The St. Petersburg Times" in Russia and the hyper-local "Merton Matters" in the United Kingdom. Ritchie has certification from the National Council for the Training of Journalists and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian an history from University College London.

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