NRSI: Computers & Writing Systems
IPA SIL keyboards for Mac OS X
Mac OS X Keyboards
These downloads contain Macintosh keyboards for typing IPA characters, compatible with Unicode 5.1. These keyboards are for Mac OS X and above. Documentation is included in some packages.
IPA Unicode Macintosh Keyboard
This software and documentation is distributed as freeware. You may modify it, but please change the filename(s).
The IPA Unicode Macintosh Keyboard in its present state is specific to the “Doulos SIL” and "Charis SIL" fonts, in that it references characters in the private use area. In future releases of Doulos SIL and Charis SIL, a number of these characters are expected to appear in standard positions according to the newest Unicode specification, and the keyboard (and encodings of any documents using those characters) will have to be changed accordingly. This does not, of course, affect standard (non-PUA) Unicode IPA characters. The keyboard now supports Unicode 6.2.
The IPA Unicode Macintosh Keyboard layout is based upon the IPA MSKLC Keyboard layout found here: IPA Unicode Keyboards. Double-click and drop .keylayout file in ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/.
The Keyboard layout is available as a separate download below. It is the same as the Windows MSKLC keyboard:
Below are the source files if you wish to adapt the Macintosh keyboard or documentation for your own use. The application for creating the keyboard is KeyLayoutMaker: or Ukelele. See Related Packages.
Other Mac OS X Keyboards
Dvorak layout of v1.4 of above keyboard. Unzip and drop in ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/. No documentation. Use the Macintosh Show Keyboard Viewer to see layout.
IPA Palette IPA Unicode Input Method for Mac OS X 10.2 (‘Jaguar’) and later. A free Unicode character palette input method for the International Phonetic Alphabet. This palette is compatible with the Hiragino font shipped with Mac OS, the (Doulos SIL) font supplied by SIL, and other IPA Unicode fonts. The software enables point-and-click character entry into Unicode-compliant software under Mac OS X.
Related Mac OS X Resources
Page History for Mac OS X Keyboards
2013-03-07 JW: updated kbd and sources (incl doc) to Unicode 6.2. Doc is now docx.
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Note: the opinions expressed in submitted contributions below do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our website.
Is there any known issue with IPA Palette in Snow Leopard? I had installed it in leopard and it worked without a problem. In Snow Leopard it does not show up when chosen from the input menu.
Are there plans to make it SL compatible?
IPA Palette is developed by Brian Hall. You can contact him via his website, www.blugs.com for more information on Snow Leopard compatibility.
I want a keyboard. aI wOnt ae ki:bO.d
There is only one bug I've noticed: the palette doesn't work for 64-bit applications. If you want to use the palette in 64-bit applications, you have to open the application in 32-bit mode. To do this go to Finder, right-click the application and select "Get Info" (or select the application and press command-I). There should be a checkbox labeled "Open in 32-bit mode". Check it, close the info window, and (re)open the application. The IPA palette should work now!
I am the developer of IPA Palette, and it has been Snow Leopard compatible since version 2.0; I use it all the time on SL. Thx.
IPA Palette 2.0 beta 3 is out now; I have Snow Leopard on my home machine and it works fine.
Hi, I'm the author of IPA Palette. Snow Leopard was troublesome because it went all "64-bit crazy" which required a new version of IPA Palette based a new input method architecture (IMKit). Version 2.0 is in late beta and I (and others) use it regularly on Leopard and Snow Leopard. I believe it is faster and more stable than 1.X. Thanks.
When you right click it and hit "Go To " I dont get a an option of a box with 32 bit resolution.
The Dvorak keyboard is missing the CTRL modifiers from QWERTY layouts. This makes it impossible to use with MacVim for example.
I don't know how to fix this easily. Any thoughts?
The is the first instruction is:
Download the disk image and double-click.
However, there is no 'disk image' that is obviously visible...does anyone know what to do?
The disk images are listed in the Download section above. Each of these three downloads is a disk image for Mac OS X. If you need further help, please send an email to — thanks!
I am so lost. I'm trying to figure out how to type the IPA on a MacBook Pro. I'm new to Unicode, really new, and I have no idea what I'm doing. Any help here? Thank you.
Hello, I've downloaded the "keyboard layout" and installed it properly. However, if I try to use it, for example, in a word processor, I don't get anything different than if I'm just using a standard American English font.
So, am I supposed to be downloading some font too?
I have an iMac, running 10.9 (Mavericks) and so I'm just trying to find a suitable IPA font to use with it.
When you downloaded the keyboard, a PDF file should have been included in the package (if you can't find this, send me an email at and I'll send it to you). This PDF contains details of which keystrokes will display which IPA characters.
You are also correct that you will need a font that contains the IPA characters. I would recommend Charis SIL, available from http://scripts.sil.org/CharisSIL.
If you continue to have trouble once you have the font and the PDF, send me an email and I will help you check that the keyboard has been properly installed and that you have everything you need to get going.
I've just spent an afternoon figuring all this out, so if it helps anyone else ...
I have the Doulos SIL font, but have been struggling to find the keystrokes to enable me to type phonetic symbols into my Word documents.
I just downloaded the keyboard viewer and installed it, but was still having trouble finding the correct keystrokes until I read the pdf that accompanies the keyboard download. That has a really useful set of charts showing the location of the symbols and the vital information about the 'dead' keys. In other phonetic fonts I've used, these have usually been the option key, shift key or a combination of these. In this font, however, the dead keys are the = key, the < key and the > key. The fact that the latter two have to be accessed using the shift key makes it even more un-instinctive!
But once you have this key bit of information, the keyboard viewer works, and I've been able to type the Doulos characters into a Word document.
Thanks for your input and for being willing to share your insight with others. I'm sorry that the PDF document did not explain the keystrokes as clearly as it could have, and trust that others will benefit from your advice.
I downloaded the keyboard layout and font that goes with it, and set it up according to the instructions, but what I type still comes out in normal English rather than the IPA alphabet I wanted to use. Help?
I use a Mac notebook.
Hi Li Lian,
Sorry this isn't working for you yet. Have you downloaded the PDF (the second download at the top of the page) and read through the section on the IPA keyboard layout—especially the part about dead keys? Typing a dead key indicates that the following key should produce an IPA character, otherwise you just get normal Latin characters as you type.
If it still doesn't work, could you send an email to and we'll take it from there.
You say to drag it to the 'library/keyboard layout folder' on my MacBook Pro..but I cannot find that file.
Recent versions of the Finder now hide the user's Library folder. You can still get to it in the Finder by holding down the Option/Alt key, selecting the Go menu and choosing Library. That will open the Library folder where you will find the Keyboard Layouts folder.