Typing Yiddish (Unicode UTF-8) in Windows 2000, Windows XP, & Windows NT4
Configuration Instructions


NOTE: This is an old, outdated web page. Instead, please download the Yiddish Keyboard Layouts Installer and you will have the most current, updated instructions. This page is remaining on the web only temporarily - until the Yiddish Keyboard Layout installer will be available on CD for those who wish to avoid large downloads.

Note: The utilities and procedures below were developed by members of  UYIP (Understanding Yiddish Information Processing). If you came here directly, you may wish to click here to read more about Unicode for Yiddish. If you're not sure what Windows 2000 is, for our purposes, click here for a brief layperson's overview.  Regarding NT4, these instructions should work for  the Hebrew Enabled version of NT4, which is a separate version of NT sold by Microsoft. You can try these instructions with the regular version of NT4, but mixed results have been reported. This works for both versions of XP - Home Edition and the Professional version.

In order to type Yiddish Unicode text using the programs which are included in Microsoft Office Professional (e.g., Microsoft Word and Outlook Express) without using any special programs (such as LingoMail or conversion utilities), you must do the following steps:

1. Add Hebrew Language Support to Internet Explorer. This step is only needed if you plan to use Outlook Express for Yiddish email (recommended) and Internet Explorer for Unicode UTF-8 Yiddish web pages. If you do not plan to use these Microsoft products, but instead plan to use, for example, Opera, then you can ignore this step entirely. (Note that this web site currently has detailed instructions for Yiddish email only in Outlook Express. If you plan to use Opera, you're on your own, although the web page author would be happy to accept detailed instructions for using Opera for Yiddish email if someone else has time to research and write them.)

2. Add Hebrew to the Windows Language Settings.

3. Install a Yiddish keyboard layout. This is software controlled. You do not need to buy a new physical keyboard. You can always change your mind later about which keyboard layout to use.  Note that your selection of a Yiddish keyboard layout does not affect your ability to exchange text with people who use different keyboard layouts. The resulting text is the same, whether you choose, for example, to type "O" for komets-alef (as in one of the "phonetic" keyboards) or Right-Alt+"R" for komets-alef (as in one of the "Israeli based" Yiddish keyboard layouts); the result is the same komets-alef.

4. Configure Office 2000/2 for Hebrew:

From the Start button, go to Programs, Microsoft Office Tools, then Microsoft Office Language Settings. (If it asks for your Microsoft Office CD, put it in.) Click on the Hebrew box to add Hebrew to your list of enabled languages in the right-hand box. (E.g., mine now has U.S. English and Hebrew.) When it asked me for my Preferred Language setting, I left it at U.S. English. The system then closes all Office applications. Now, when you open, say, Word, it will be enabled for the additional language. See below for more tweaking.

5. Tweak individual programs, as needed. See below:

Tweaking your Programs to Work with Yiddish Unicode

In many cases, you'll need to do some minor one-time tweaking of the settings in your Microsoft Office 2000 programs to make it all work. Click below for the step-by-step instructions. Note that these procedures are still under development. Please send all comments, corrections, and suggestion to the UYIP mailing list.

A word about fonts: Of course there are various sources for Yiddish fonts, many of which are shared on the UYIP mailing list. However, once you get your system ready to type Yiddish in Unicode, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that (to quote Matt Fisher from a 1/10/01 posting to UYIP) "with WindowsNT and Windows2000, several such fonts appear to be included with the operating system. The Hebrew and Yiddish unicode characters are embedded in fonts with such exotic names as Times New Roman, Arial, Courier New, and Lucida Sans Unicode." Fancy that. Matt subsequently reported that the following additional standard WindowsNT and Windows2000 fonts include Yiddish unicode characters: David, David Transparent, Fixed Miriam Transparent,  Miriam, Miriam Fixed, Miriam Transparent, Rod, Tahoma.

A word about file names: It's tempting to assign file names (e.g., Word files) with Yiddish letters, just because you can. Be aware that this can cause problems when trying to back up files; e.g., onto CD-R due to limitations of certain software packages, e.g., Adaptec Direct CD. You may wish to refrain and use the western alphabet for file names. Ditto for subject headers in Yiddish email.

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