Romanised Pali Keyboard layout

I’ve created a British keyboard layout for Mac OSX that features romanised Pali diacritics.


All of the characters are accessible by using the left Alt (aka option or ⌥) key plus a special key (tilde ~, full stop ., minus -) which represent the diacritic to apply. This changes the keyboard state so that if the next normal upper or lower case character pressed is one of the romanised Pali characters that uses diacritics, then the diacritic is applied to that character.


Press left Alt + minus, followed by a,A, i,I, u,U to get macron:
ā, Ā
ī, Ī
ū, Ū

Press left Alt + tilde, followed by n,N to get tilde:
ñ, Ñ

Press left Alt + full stop, followed by t,T, d,D, n,N, l,L, m,M to get dot-below:
ṭ, Ṭ
ḍ, Ḍ
ṇ, Ṇ
ḷ, Ḷ
ṃ, Ṃ

Press left Alt + shift + full stop (less than symbol <), followed by n,N to get dot-above:
ṅ, Ṅ

In the case of the dotted characters, you can remember the normal dot as being dot-below, and shift-dot as being dot-above, similar to how lower case characters which don’t use the shift key are normally lower in height, and upper case characters which use the shift key normally occupy the upper, or higher part of the line.

It can be a bit tricky at first to get the dot-above with upper case characters.
e.g., to produce Ṅ you need to press left Alt + shift + full stop, then shift + n.


Save the keyboard layout in ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/
[EDIT: 2014-04-26] As pointed out by Christoph, some web browsers (such as Safari) might save the file as “British with Pali.keylayout.txt“. You must rename it to remove the “.txt”, so that it’s just “British with Pali.keylayout”.
Log out then log back in again.
Open System Preferences -> Language and Text -> Input Sources
Tick “British with Pali”

Tick “Show Input menu in menu bar”
Click on the Input menu bar and select “British with Pali”

From now on you will be able to enter the Pali diacritics.
Your keyboard layout will stay like this from now on.
If you don’t need to change the layout again, feel free to go back to the Input Sources panel of System Preferences and untick “Show Input menu in menu bar”.

I made this layout with the brilliant Ukelele
For a US layout for OSX and Windows, and which also features Sanskrit diacritics, see


6 thoughts on “Romanised Pali Keyboard layout

  1. Hi, I’ve followed your instructions for installing the Pali keyboard layout but it has not appeared in my list of available keyboards. Could you help?

  2. I have found the solution to the failed Pali keyboard installation. The file as downloaded has a .txt extension. This has to be removed, so that ‘British with Pali.keylayout.txt’ becomes ‘British with Pali.keylayout’. Then if you put it in ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts and log out and back in again, it works.

    Could you update either the name of the file downloaded, removing the .txt extension, or alter your instructions to include a step to rename the file? This will make things easier for future downloaders.

    Fantastic keyboard layout – many thanks – hours of effort saved!

    • Hi Christoph!
      Thanks for your comments.

      The filename on the server is correct, ending in “.keylayout”. However, you’re right that it can be changed by your web browser. For example, on my MacBook, when I download the file in FireFox it’s saved correctly as “British with Pali.keylayout”, but when I use Safari it renames the file as “British with Pali.keylayout.txt”. This is a known problem with Safari, and affects many different types of files.

      I’ve updated the description to help other people in the future.
      Thanks again for your comments, it’s always a pleasure to get feedback 🙂

      • Fantastic – thank you. And above all, thank you for the keyboard layout itself – for a long time I have been using a series of absurd and time-consuming work-arounds to type the extra letters needed for Pali. You have fixed all that for me – so you’re a star 🙂

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