Posted in English as an Additional Language (EAL), ICT

How to change the keyboard layout in Windows 7

Following on from last week’s post on changing the keyboard on the iPad, here’s a how-to for Windows 7 – the operating system that City of Edinburgh refreshed machines are running.  The official Microsoft guide is helpful, but a little dry, so hopefully this version complete with screenshots will be useful.

1.   Click the Start button, type intl.cpl in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

2.   On the Keyboards and Language tab, click Change keyboards…

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

3.   Click Add.  This will bring up a list of languages.
4.  Expand the language that you want, by clicking on the little cross to the left-hand side of the name of the language.  For example, I have expanded Polish (Poland).

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

4.   Now, expand Keyboard list, and click to select the Polish (214) check box, and then click OK.  Be aware that different languages have different keyboard variations – if you’re not sure which one you want, you may need to just try the different keyboards out.

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

5.  Now, you should see your chosen keyboard in a list:

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

6.   Click OK.  You should now see EN on the bottom right of your taskbar.  Hover over it with your mouse.

Changing the keyboard in Windows 7

7.  Choose the keyboard you require, et voilà! You’re good to go.  You can add as many keyboards as you like.

Unless you set it to be otherwise, the keyboard will default to English, and I would recommend you leave it that way for school computers.  You should also be aware that you can have different languages going in different applications, e.g. Polish in Word and Arabic in PowerPoint – if things are not appearing on the screen like you were expecting, take a look down in that bottom right-hand corner to check that the correct language is enabled.

For people looking for an ABC layout to a keyboard, there is no way I know of to do this from within Windows – though I’d be happy to be proved wrong!  In that case, your best bet would probably be to purchase (or borrow from us) some hardware such as a BigKeys keyboard, that can be reprogrammed as per this video:

As always, your thoughts/comments are appreciated below!


Teacher at the Keycomm Resource Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. Love my wee family, my cats, my friends. Passionate about inclusive education, nice red wine and travelling.

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