Anglo-Saxon Keyboard Layouts

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.

Finnish Multilingual Experimental Keyboard

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.


Anglo-Saxon Keyboard Layouts — 5 Comments

  1. Just in case you haven’t yet thought of this one…

    You said “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.”

    One problem is you need to actually uninstall the old one first before installing your new version.
    Don’t just reinstall over the top.

    • Yes, I did uninstall the old one several times, rebooted before reinstalling, and changed file names when that didn’t help, but none of it worked. It seems that many other people have also had the same problem with MSKLC.

  2. A while back, I used the Microsoft keyboard creator to make my own layout (as a variant of Icelandic):

    I’m still happily using it, and I’m happy for anyone who might find it useful to install it. It works as a normal US keyboard, accessing special characters and diacritics by using the right ALT key (so right ALT + ‘ puts an acute over a vowel). This means you don’t have to switch between multiple keyboard layouts, and always have diacritics and special symbols whenever you need them.

    It should provide all the standard characters for any old Germanic language, as well as the normal transcriptions of Proto-Indo-European and romanized Sanskrit and Avestan. I made up a PDF with full documentation of how to enter each diacritic or special symbol (I tried to make them as intuitive as possible).

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