In Windows 7 (as with most other operating systems) you can change both the language of the keyboard you are using to type things and the language of the visual interface. In this tutorial, I will show you how to manage the keyboard input languages on your system. This includes: how to add or remove a language, previewing the keyboard layout of a language, customizing the language bar and switching between languages.
How to Add or Remove a Keyboard Input Language
All settings related to the keyboard input language are done from the 'Region and Language' window. There are several ways to find it. One would be to open Control Panel and go to 'Clock, Language, and Region'. There you can either click on 'Region and Language' and then on the 'Keyboards and Languages' tab or directly on the 'Change keyboards or other input methods' link.
Another way is to search for 'change keyboard' in the Start Menu search box and click on the 'Change keyboards or other input methods' search result.
In the 'Region and Language' window, click on 'Change keyboards' button.
In the General tab of the 'Text Services and Input Languages' window you will see the list of currently installed input languages. To add a new one, click on Add button.
From the huge list of available languages, select the ones you desire. To see how a specific language looks on your keyboard, select it and click on Preview.
You will see on screen a virtual keyboard with the key specific to the selected input language. When done click on Close.
After you have selected the languages you want to add, click on OK and you will be taken back to the 'Text Services and Input Languages' window.
If you want to change the order of the installed input languages, you can select them with the mouse and click the Move up and Move down buttons.
If you want to remove a keyboard input language, select it with the mouse and click on the Remove button.
Customize the Language Bar
When you have installed more than one keyboard input language, the language bar is activated by default. To customize it, click on the 'Language Bar' tab of the 'Text Services and Input Languages' window.
In the first section of the window, you can customize the position of the bar.
You can choose to have it floating on your desktop, docked in the taskbar or hidden from view. Below you can find a screenshot showing how it looks on the desktop or in the taskbar.
If you choose to have it hidden, it is obvious that you will never see it.
In this window you also have options about transparency of the bar, number of icons and text labels shown.
When you are done making the settings you desire, click on OK.
Change Between Keyboard Input Languages
To switch between the keyboard input languages, you can use the Language bar and select with the mouse the language you desire.
You can also use keyboard shortcuts, the default being 'Left Alt + Shift'.
NOTE: one thing you should keep in mind is the fact that, when you change the active keyboard input language, this is done for the application which is currently opened. If you open another application, the input language used is the default one and you will have to switch it again.
If you want to change the shortcuts for changing between keyboard input languages, click on the 'Advanced Key Settings' tab of the 'Text Services and Input Languages' window. You will see there the list of key sequences defined for changing between languages. If you want to change one, select it and click on 'Change Key Sequence'.
In the 'Change Key Sequence' window, select the combination you desire and click on OK.
From now on, the new combination of keys will be valid for switching between languages.
As you can see, managing your keyboard input languages is not very difficult. If you want to know more about this subject, don't hesitate to leave a comment or read the articles recommended below.