How to Type in Hindi on a Mac

Typing in Devanāgarī (the Hindi script) on your Mac computer is simple to set up and relatively easy to master. Here I’ll walk you through how to enable a Devanāgarī keyboard layout, how to conveniently switch between keyboards, and finally what software to use for writing in Hindi.

The following instructions have been written according to OS X 10.11 (El Capitan). If you are running an older operating system, the steps may be slightly different.

Enable a Devanagari Keyboard

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Click on Keyboard
  3. Highlight the Input Sources tab
  4. Click on the + sign
  5. Scroll down in the list of languages and select Hindi
  6. Highlight Devanagari – QWERTY and then click on Add
  7. You’re done!
Keyboard settings displaying input sources for typing in Hindi.

You’ll notice that on step 6 it gives you three different keyboard layout options:

  • Devanagari
  • Devanagari – QWERTY
  • Hindi – Transliteration

The “Devanagari” option potentially allows you to type faster in Hindi once you’ve invested the time to learn its layout. “Devanagari – QWERTY” is basically phonetic and so it allows you to start typing in Hindi with some degree of fluency from the get-go. “Hindi – Transliteration” requires you to write in Roman letters while the system guesses what word you’re trying to write in Hindi (and it gives you several options). Overall, I would recommend starting with “Devanagari – QWERTY.”

 Create a System for Easily Switching Keyboards

  1. Back on the Input Sources tab of Keyboard within System Preferences, check the box that says, “Show Input menu in menu bar”
  2. Now click on the Shortcuts tab
  3. Within the left-hand box, click on Input Sources
  4. Check the box that says, “Select the previous input source”
  5. Now within the left-hand box, click on Spotlight
  6. Uncheck the box that says, “Show Spotlight search”
Shortcut to easily switch to the Hindi keyboard.

You can now easily switch between your English and Hindi keyboards. On your system menu bar (the very top of your screen) you should now see a flag associated with the language of the keyboard you’re currently using (e.g. it’ll be an American flag if you’re running American English). To switch the keyboard to Hindi, you can left click on that flag and choose your Hindi keyboard (e.g.क Devanagari – QWERTY). Alternatively, you can simply press ‘command’ and ‘space bar’ together to swap back and forth.

Software to Use for Typing in Hindi

All of the built-in programs within your operating system (Mac OS X) will support typing in Hindi. This means that you can freely switch into Hindi as you’re composing an email in Mail, you could make a Hindi note in Stickies, Notes, or Reminders, or type in Hindi within any input field when you’re surfing the web.

But you may also want to be able to type in Hindi within a proper word processor to have more control over styling.

LibreOffice is my option of choice. It’s a full office suite based on OpenOffice but optimized for Macs, and it works great for typing in Hindi.

To make the font Devanagari MT (which is quite good and comes with your operating system) the default within LibreOffice, you can do the following:

  1. Within the LibreOffice Preferences, go to Language Settings and then highlight Languages
  2. Check the box that says, “Complex text layout (CTL)” and then select Default – Hindi
  3. Click OK to close the Preferences window
  4. Open Preferences again and this time highlight LibreOffice Writer
  5. Click on Basic Fonts (CTL)
  6. Within the 5 dropdown menus you can can select Devanagari MT for each one
  7. Click OK to close the Preferences window
  8. Now whenever you switch into your Hindi keyboard when you’re working within LibreOffice, it’ll automatically use Devanagari MT as the default font and your English font within the same document won’t be affected
Language settings in LibreOffice, showing Hindi selected as the CTL language
Basic Fonts settings in LibreOffice showing Devanagari MT selected

Enable Keyboard Viewer

The built-in Keyboard Viewer is the best way to quickly learn the Hindi keyboard you’ve installed. To enable the Keyboard Viewer:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Select Keyboard
  3. Within the first tab (called “Keyboard”), check the box near the bottom where it says, “Show Keyboard, Emoji, & Symbol Viewers in menu bar
  4. You can now access the Keyboard Viewer by clicking on the language input icon in the system menu bar and choosing “Show Keyboard Viewer”
Keyboard settings in OS X with Show Keyboard, Emoji & Symbol Viewers in menu bar selected

Putting It All Together

Assuming you’ve enabled the Devanagari – QWERTY keyboard, you’ll find that it’s fairly intuitive but there are a few idiosyncrasies to learn.

Typing most consonants is straightforward. To type ग you simply type “g.” If you want an aspirated घ, you type “shift+g” (the shift key adds aspiration to a consonant).

Most of the independent vowels are typed using the option key. For example, to produce independent इ, type option+i. To make it the long ई, type shift+option+i.

Finally, you can type conjunct consonants using the “f” key, which is used to stop the inherent अ of a consonant. To type the word हिन्दी, for example, type the following:

  1. h
  2. i
  3. n
  4. f
  5. d
  6. shift+i

As you’re getting the hang of it, I’d recommend enabling Show Keyboard Viewer. Now you’re on your way!

An example of typing in Hindi in LibreOffice with the Keyboard Viewer enabled

37 Comments on “How to Type in Hindi on a Mac”

  1. Hi Christoph!

    Many thabks for the info.

    I have a little problem, In my mac, when I go to keyboard, and find Hindi, it only shows devanagari and devanagary Qwerty, no Hindi trasliteration, any clue about how can I found it?

    Many thanks!
    Bests!
    Smile!

    1. Hi Lucila,

      That’s strange that “Hindi – Transliteration” isn’t appearing. What version is your operating system? When I wrote this post I was using OS X El Capitan and now I’m using macOS Sierra (in both versions that option appears for me). Might you be using an older operating system?

  2. Hello Christoph,
    I thought to ask you something. I dont really know who to ask..

    Really having a tough time to figure out the answer. Maybe you know about it? and can give a hand? 🙂

    I explain:

    I am typing in sanskrit, so, when typing in roman alphabet I need some supplements like ā ṣ ḥ ś ī

    My font for roman alphatet is DV1-TTGanesh. When instaling it (have the copywrite version) says in the especification that there is the latin 1 supplement that covers those characters.

    The thing is that when I write with that font, is everything ok until I try to use one of those leters that is compose of a dot and vocal for example ī . Then, the font chages to Helvetica, for example.

    At first I thought that the font didnt had those characters, then that was why it was changing font.

    But I figure out, that is not true. The reason is that I opened a text already writen by another person, using DV1-TTGanesh, and those letters compose of 2 things, are nicely in the correct font, the same! not changing.

    So, meanwhile I have to copy the letter I need and paste everytime from a document to another . Torture! haha

    So… my question is… where are those letters? who can i find how to write them? I use the keyboard screen display but there are not there. There are just showing the elements separetly.

    … clues?

    In any case.
    Many thanks for your time
    Om

    1. Hi Lucila,

      I’ve also struggled with typing in Roman transliteration. For example, sometimes I need to type in Roman transliteration to represent Hindi when I’m teaching a basic-level student who doesn’t know the script, and I want to be able to type fairly fluently. Unfortunately, I haven’t really found any perfect solution for this.

      You probably already know that to access all of the special characters, you click on the language icon within the system menu in the upper right-hand corner of your screen and choose “Show Emoji & Symbols.” Within the “Latin” category you’ll find all of the ones you need for Hindi or Sanskrit (e.g. ā, ḍ, etc.). By marking each one as a Favorite, you can group them all together, but it’s still cumbersome to click on one of them each time you need it.

      Alternatively, if you’re typing in, for example, TextEdit, you can hold down a particular key and the operating system will automatically present you with variations on that letter, but not every one you’d need for Sanskrit is included.

      What I’ve ended up doing for typing fairly fast in transliteration in Hindi is use the “AutoCorrect” feature in LibreOffice (Tools – AutoCorrect – AutoCorrect Options). I programmed it so that, for instance, if I type “kAm” then it will automatically change it to “kām,” or if I type “hindI” it’ll change it to “hindī”. This actually works pretty well for me as I’ve put in around 300 words. The problem is that you have to go to the effort of inputting all of the most common words you use, which is quite time consuming in the beginning. And in the case of Sanskrit (with the rules of Sandhi), it might not be practical at all!

  3. thanks a ton for this note Christoph… am finally able to write in Hindi.
    धन्यवाद क्रिस्टाफ़ आपके नोट के लिए। अब में हिंदी में टाइप कर सकता हूँ 🙂

  4. i’m using a Yosemite, and i do not see the hindi-transliteration option. I only get Devnagar and Devnagari-QWERTY options.

    I downgraded for Sierra for system compatibility purposes. There it was already there and I used it. Here in yosemite, i can’t seem to find it. Plz help. And no, i cannot go back up to Sierra. My device becomes very slow, upon upgrading.

    1. Hello Akash,

      I honestly don’t have much experience using that keyboard (Hindi – Transliteration), but it should be part of OS X El Capitan as that was what I was using when I published this post (and the screenshots you see above are from El Capitan). I’m assuming you’re running the most up-to-date version of El Capitan? If so, that’s strange it’s not there! And unfortunately, I don’t see an easy way of exporting and importing input sources.

      Have you considered using Devanagari – QWERTY instead? I think you’ll find that it’s ultimately faster and more accurate.

  5. Hi Chris,

    Am using “ABC Extended Keyboard” for input Roman transliterations on Mac. Very easy to type special characters such as ā ū ī Ā ñ ṛ ṣ ṭ ś etc.

    Am learning to use “Devanagari – QWERTY keyboard”. One issue that I encountered is when trying to type “kl” (as in “kliṣṭa”) in Words with the input sequence of “k+f+l” the Devanagari MT font showed 2 l’s. Wonder if anyone else has experienced this problem or perhaps my input sequence is incorrect?

    Incidentally, to produce ॐ, the sequence is “shift+option+m”.

    My OS is High Sierra.

    1. Hi Shi,

      Thanks for your suggestion to use “ABC Extended Keyboard” for typing with Roman transliteration. I just activated it and will now play around with it!

      Your key sequence for typing a “kl” conjunct with the Devanagari – QWERTY keyboard is correct. What program have you tried that in? If it’s Microsoft Word, it’ll give you trouble but see what happens when typing in a TextEdit document.

  6. Transliteration mode मे मराठी भाषा का “ळ” कैसे लाए? Any idea about how to type Marathi character “ळ” in transliteration mode?

    1. I believe it’s written in transliteration like this: ḷ (the dot on the bottom denoting that it’s a retroflex sound)

      The only way I was able to type that was to click on “Show Emoji & Symbols” within the language drop-down in the taskbar and then click on “Latin” in the sidebar. Then you scroll way down to the lower case “l” and it’s given as one of the variants. To make it easier to type it repeatedly, you can choose to “Add to Favorites.”

  7. Hi There
    I am using the Hindi transliteration tool on my Mac. In the regular Text Edit the system is working fine.
    However, when I am using it in PHOTOSHOP or FINAL CUT PRO, while it is showing the correct word in the little box, on selection the word is changing. I do not know if this is a settings issue or something else. Can you help me with this please.
    Thanks
    Prem Aman

    1. Hi Prem,

      Thanks for your message. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can help much here. While there might be a setting within Photoshop and/or Final Cut Pro, I’m guessing that Adobe simply doesn’t encode the Hindi transliteration properly (I’m sure it wouldn’t be an OS setting). Hopefully, Adobe will fix that in the future!

  8. Hello Prem Aman,
    Hello Christoph Dusenbery,

    Hope by now you must have figured out how to type Hindi correctly in applications like Photoshop, etc… You can use the Devanagari fonts available in Google font. Type the text using transliteration. If you find that the conjuncts (sanyuktakshar) are not appearing correctly, then select all the text and in the context menu of Paragraph palette choose Middle Eastern and South Asian Layout.
    Unable to post screenshots else would have posted reference images.
    Similarly, In the case of InDesign application too, select the text and in the context menu of Paragraph palette choose Adobe Word-Read Paragraph Composer.
    Hope this will be useful.
    Thanks and regards

  9. Why do I get question marks in Devanagari keyboards? I have Mac OS Mojave (v.10.14.2)
    With simple Devanagari I get 25 questions marks; with shift 6.
    With Devanagari Qwerty I get 9 question marks; with shift more!

    Andreas Katonis

  10. Hi Everyone,
    I am new to Mac. Currently I am using mcOS MOJAVE. I am used to type in Hindi in MS word. In my MAC MS 2011 whenever I typed in Hindi the conjunct letters specially it is not working. Like when I typed क्रम, बुद्ध in MS Office 2011 it will stop working. I am using Sanskrit 2003 and other unicode fonts and my typing method is inscript. Looking forward for some help.

    1. Hi there,

      I remember that MS Office 2011 on a Mac used to give me problems, too. I think the latest version of MS Office has fixed those problems (though I’m not 100% sure as I don’t use Office). Can you use a different Mac OS application to type in Hindi or does it need to be MS Office?

      Also, you’re using Inscript on a Mac for your keyboard setup? Have you tried the built-in Hindi keyboard options?

  11. Thanks very much, Christoph. Only one question: how does one insert the simple bindu for hain (plural of hai): है ?

    1. To type the retroflex ṛa, it’s (unfortunately) two steps: (option + d) and then (shift + f).

      (option + d) gives you the retroflex ड and then (shift + f) is used to add a dot to the bottom of any consonant.

  12. Thanks a lot for introducing this key board for devanagari script. Ideal for sanskrit lovers like me.

    Rama

    1. Unfortunately, it looks like Apple still hasn’t added Hindi to the list of supported languages for the Dictation feature of Mac OS. There are some 32 languages but Hindi isn’t one of them.

  13. Hi,
    I have downloaded Krutidev Fonts in my mac, But I’m unable to insert symbols of the same fonts. such as : क्र
    Please advise how can I add KrutiDev for symbols as well.

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