Mac OS X (10.2 and higher)
Yiddish Computing


The current generation of Mac OS X supports Unicode UTF-8, which is the generic text standard that the Yiddish computing world  is using to make Yiddish text compatible between platforms, so that text can be shared, say between Mac and Windows users, for Yiddish text email and other purposes. This is exciting news with endless possibilities! We are still exploring the practical applications which are available, several of which are currently under development. You are invited to check this site from time to time for updates, or to join the UYIP (Understanding Yiddish Information Processing) Discussion List to keep up with the latest developments and discoveries. There are some known issues, listed below.


Prepare your system for Yiddish
Technically, OS X (10.2 and up) can handle Yiddish in Unicode UTF-8 with minimal preparation*. Howver, in order to make your Yiddish computing experience more pleasant, it is recommended that you prepare your computer for Yiddish by following the one-time steps in the following box before you get started for the first time. If you decide to skip this preparation, please don't compain to me!

How to Prepare OS X (10.2 & up) for Yiddish

  1. Download Safari, Apple's free web browser, which correctly displays web pages in Yiddish Unicode UTF-8 .

  2. Keyboard Layouts -- You can use the Hebrew keyboard layout which comes with the OS. Alternatively, you can download a free phonetic Qwerty keyboard, or any other version that you can find which has all the Yiddish characters.

  3. Install Free Updated Font -- [Note: This step is not needed for OS X 10.3 and higher.] There is a Yiddish Unicode font issue, causing an incorrect display of vov-yud in certain circumstances. This problem can be corrected by a one time installation of an updated font, at no cost.

* Minimal steps to enable your system for Yiddish, are:  go to the Apple Menu, System Preferences, enable Hebrew (international menu | Customize menu...| Input menu tab and click Hebrew. But,  I recommend following the instructions in the box, above, which include these steps.


Keyboard Layouts - yidklav.gif (707 bytes)

It doesn't matter which software keyboard you use for Yiddish, as long as the resulting text is standard Yiddish. In other words, even if two different people use completely different keyboards to enter text, the resulting text should be the same. I could type Yiddish text with one keyboard and font, and send it to you, and you'd still be able to read it even though you use a different keyboard. You can also install more than one keyboard for Yiddish, try them out, and switch back and forth at any time, even in the middle of a document. An alef is an alef, regardless of which key you pressed to type it.

A Hebrew keyboard layout comes with OS X which probably has all the characters that one needs for standard YIVO orthography. (If someone could please verify this and report back to me, I'd appreciate it.) However, it might be difficult to find what you need in a pattern which is logical or easy to remember unless you install a keyboard which was designed with Yiddish in mind. There are a number of keyboards available on the internet, mostly free, perhaps some commercial. Subscribe to UYIP (Understanding Yiddish Information Processing) to find out about more choices and/or see below for some easy choices.




Known  Issues (Problems with OS X 10.2 and 10.3 only) for Yiddish Unicode UTF-8:

1. R2L Issue: [OS 10.2 & 10.3 only. This problem was partially corrected in OS X 10.4  Mail in "Tiger"- read below] Right to Left paragraph direction doesn't work 100% correctly in the native OS -- i.e., word wrap is correct and basic Right to Left works; but punctuation goes to the wrong end of the line, and cursor placement is not consistent, making editing difficult. This problem is intrinsic to this OS, causing unpleasant problems when working with Yiddish. However, an increasing number of OS X applications are overcoming these issues. For example, Mellel, the word processing program, has solved this problem. For Yiddish email, Shoshke-post has also solved this problem.

In OS X 10.4 Mail, the R2L problem is corrected, but only in sending mail, not in receiving mail. If you receive Yiddish Unicode email in OS X 10.4, you can copy and paste it into TextEdit. Then, click on Format, Text, Writing Direction, Right to Left. Alternatively, you can use a different email program, Shoshke-post, in OS X 10.4.

This R2L problem also causes certain characters to display incorrectly; e.g., those with a pintl. For example, if you type a pey, it looks correct at first. Then, type another letter next to it, like a reysh. The pintl suddenly moves over, out of the pey and into the reysh. Similar problem with melupm vov. The pintl appears on the right side of the vov instead of the left side. However, when you paste the text into an application which has corrected this problem (e.g, Mellel or Shoshke-post) the same text displays correctly, with the pintlekh in the proper locations.

2. Yiddish Unicode Font Issue: [OS X 10.2 only -- This problem was corrected in OS X 10.3.] There is only one font that came with OS X 10.2 which has all the characters that one needs for Unicode UTF-8. That font is Lucida Grande. The problem with Lucida Grande is that Apple made a mistake (!) in drawing one of the Yiddish characters in that font set. When the vov-yud is displayed on the Mac, it is displayed backwards, as yud-vov.  The character is sent correctly to Windows when sending Yiddish email, however, so that if you send Yiddish UTF-8 text between Mac and Windows, it will display correctly on Windows, but not on the Mac. This problem can be easily fixed with a corrected font. Therefore, it is technically not an OS problem, just a font problem. There are other fonts for OS X 10.2  which work for Unicode UTF-8 for use with Yiddish which are error-free. The search is on for additional fonts which are high quality in appearance and which are not expensive. Any suggestions should be sent to the UYIP list for testing and discussion.

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