Many of my hits on this blog come from people searching for OE keyboard layouts. If you need to type in Old English, you have a few options. Once you’ve selected your keyboard layout, I would recommend making a keyboard map part of your desktop background until you have memorized the layout. That way, you can run your word processor in a slightly smaller window and still view the map on your screen.
I used this keyboard before I upgraded to Windows 7. It doesn’t work on newer systems, but it’s great for older systems. Since it’s meant for multilingual use, it has everything necessary for OE, ON, and Latin except ƿ. For Windows only; download here.
University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico has produced keyboard layouts in Old English and Old Norse for Windows, Macs, and Linux. You can download them here and the page has installation instructions. I didn’t like this keyboard layout because ON tends to use accent marks where OE uses macrons, and I wanted both on one layout. I also wanted to be able to do a macron and an accent mark on the same letter if necessary.
Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator
EDIT: Nelson has used MSKLC to create keyboard layouts for archaic languages and runic alphabets. You can see more information and download them here.
This is my favorite option for keyboard layout creation. I liked the Finnish Multilingual, but I wanted a keyboard layout that was instinctual for me and that could be updated with archaic letters such as ƿ and ſ. You can download the MSKLC here. Since I have a little bit of technofear, I would not recommend using this to alter the default Windows English keyboard. I would recommend making an alternative English keyboard so you can switch between standard and custom. Mine is called the US Overeducated Keyboard Layout, but to my disappointment, it displays in my menu as simply “US – Custom.” You can program the keyboard in any way that you wish by entering Unicode symbols. You can enter each letter individually, but I recommend using combining diacritics (meaning they can be added to any letter) instead of installing each letter with its own diacritic. However, keep in mind that many fonts don’t like the combining diacritics. Combining diacritics work well with Times New Roman and Arial, so if you’re using this for academic work and not web publishing, you should be fine.
I have had problems updating the keyboard. The original that I installed worked fine, but no matter how many times I update the file and reinstall, only the old layout will show up. I assume that the problem is probably me, but I don’t know how to fix it, so make sure you’re happy with your keyboard before installing.
- macron: U+0304
- accent: U+0301
- grave mark: U+0300
- hook: U+0322
- dot: U+0307
- ring: U+030A
- ƿ: U+01B
- Ƿ: U+01F7
- ȝ: U+021D
- Ȝ: U+021C
- þ: U+00FE
- Þ: U+00DE
- ð: U+00F0
- Ð: U+00D0
Ukelele is a Unicode-based keyboard layout creator for Macs. I know nothing about it. Have fun.