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Hebrew keyboard

A standard Hebrew keyboard showing both Hebrew and Latin letters.

A Hebrew keyboard (Hebrew: מקלדת עברית mikledet ivrit) comes in two different keyboard layouts. Most Hebrew keyboards are bilingual, as Latin characters are necessary for URLs and Email addresses. Trilingual keyboard options also exist, with the third script being Arabic or Russian, due to the sizable Arabic- and Russian-speaking populations in Israel.


Standard Hebrew keyboard

A typewriter in the Hebrew layout, the Triumph Gabriele 25.
Standard Hebrew keyboards have a 101-key layout. Like the standard English keyboard layout, QWERTY, the Hebrew layout was derived from the order of letters on Hebrew typewriters.

One noteworthy feature is that in the standard layout (but not all keyboards), paired delimiters – parentheses (), brackets [], and braces {} – are in the opposite order from the standard in other languages. This results in "open"/"close" being consistent with left-to-right languages (Shift-9 always gives "open parenthesis"), instead of "left"/"right" being consistent. This is not shared with Arabic keyboards.

In a 102-key layout of this form, there would be an additional key to the right of the left shift key. This would be an additional backslash key (20px). Keyboards with 102 keys are not sold as standard.

On some keyboards, the backslash key (20px) can be found to the left of the enter key, rather than on the top row to the left of the backspace key, where it resides normally.

On computers running Windows, Alt-Shift switches between keyboard layouts. Holding down a Shift key (or pressing Caps Lock) in Windows produces the uppercase Latin letter without the need to switch layouts.

Hebrew on standard Latin-based keyboards

There are a variety of layouts that, for the most part, follow the phonology of the letters on a Latin-character keyboard such as the QWERTY or AZERTY. Where no phonology mapping is possible, or where multiple Hebrew letters map to a single Latin letter, a similarity in shape or other characteristic may be chosen. For instance, if ס (samech) is assigned to the S key, ש (shin/sin) may be assigned to the W key, which it arguably resembles. The shift key is often used to access the five Hebrew letters that have final forms (sofit) used at the end of words.

These layouts are commonly known as "Hebrew-QWERTY"[1][2] or "French AZERTY-Hebrew"[3] layouts. While Hebrew layouts for Latin-based keyboards are not well standardized, OS X comes with a Hebrew-QWERTY variant, and software layouts for Microsoft Windows can be found on the Internet.[4] Tools such as the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator can also be used to produce custom layouts.

While uncommon, manufacturers are beginning to produce Hebrew-QWERTY stickers and printed keyboards,[5] useful for those who do not wish to memorize the positions of the Hebrew characters.


For more details on input methods for niqqud, see niqqud.

Both consonants and niqqud can be typed from virtual graphical keyboards available on the World Wide Web, or by methods integrated into particular operating systems.

Microsoft Windows

  • Using the standard Hebrew keyboard layout, the typist can enter niqqud by pressing Caps Lock, placing the cursor after the consonant letter, and then pressing Shift and one of the keys in the chart below.
  • The user can configure the registry to allow use of the Alt key with the numeric plus key to type the hexadecimal Unicode value.[6]
  • The user can use the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to produce a custom keyboard layout, or can download a layout produced by another party.[7]


In GTK+ Linux systems, niqqud can be entered by holding down AltGr and pressing the same keys as for Windows below. Or by pressing Ctrl+Shift+u followed by the appropriate 4 digit Unicode.


Using the Hebrew keyboard layout in Mac OS X, the typist can enter niqqud by pressing the Option key together with a number on the top row of the keyboard. Other combinations such as sofit and hataf can also be entered by pressing either the Shift key and a number, or by pressing the Shift key, Option key, and a number at the same time.[8][9]

Niqqud input
Input (Windows) Key (Windows) Input
(Mac OS X)
Unicode Type Result
~ 35px 0 05B0 Sh'va 35px [1]
1 35px 3 05B1 Reduced Segol 35px [1]
2 35px 1 05B2 Reduced Patach 35px [1]
3 35px 2 05B3 Reduced Kamatz
4 35px 4 05B4 Hiriq 35px [1]
5 35px 5 05B5 Zeire 35px [1]
6 35px 9 05B6 Segol 35px [1]
7 35px 6 05B7 Patach 35px [1]
Niqqud input
Input (Windows) Key (Windows) Input
(Mac OS X)
Unicode Type Result
8 35px 7 05B8 Kamatz
9 35px A 05C2 Sin dot (left) 35px [2]
0 35px M 05C1 Shin dot (right) 35px [2]
35px = 05B9 Holam 23px [1]
= [3] 35px , 05BC Dagesh or Mappiq 35px [1]
U 05BC Shuruk 35px [4]
\ 35px 8 05BB Kubutz 35px [1]


  • [1] The letter "ס" represents any Hebrew consonant.
  • [2] For sin-dot and shin-dot, the letter "ש" (sin/shin) is used.
  • [3] The dagesh, mappiq, and shuruk have different uses, but the same graphical representation, and hence are input in the same manner.
  • [4] For shuruk, the letter "ו" (vav) is used since it can only be used with that letter.
  • A rafe can be input by inserting the corresponding Unicode character, either explicitly or via a customized keyboard layout.

SIL International have developed another standard, which is based on Tiro, but adds the Niqqud along the home keys.[10] Linux comes with "Israel - Biblical Hebrew (Tiro)" as a standard layout. With this layout, niqqud can be typed without pressing the Caps Lock key.

Paragraph Directionality

Since Hebrew is read and written right-to-left, as opposed to the left-to-right system in English, the cursor keys and delete keys work backwards when Hebrew text is entered in left-to-right directionality mode. Because of the differences between left-to-right and right-to-left, some difficulties arise in punctuation marks that are common between the two languages, such as periods and commas. When using standard left-to-right input, pressing the "period" key at the end of a sentence displays the mark on the wrong side of the sentence. However, when the next sentence is started, the period moves to the correct location. This is due to the operating system defaulting to its standard text directionality when a typed character (such as a punctuation mark) does not have a specified directionality.

There are several ways to force right-to left directionality. When typing, a Unicode right-to-left mark can be inserted where necessary (such as after a punctuation mark). In Notepad, or any Windows standard text box, it can be done with from the context menu Insert Unicode control character. With Windows Hebrew keyboard, RLM can be generated pressing Ctrl ]. In Microsoft Word, the Format -> Paragraph menu can be used to change the paragraph's default direction to right-to-left. Similar setting is available in Gmail composer.

There are also ways to choose the way the text is displayed, without changing the text itself. In Internet Explorer, right-to-left display can be forced by right-clicking a webpage and selecting Encoding -> Right-To-Left Document. In Notepad, or any Windows standard text box, directionality can be changed by right-clicking and selecting Right to left Reading order. Same effect can be achieved by pressing Shift key with Right Ctrl. You can switch back to Left to right Reading order by unselecting the check box or pressing Shift key with Left Ctrl. Note that this only effects presentation of the text. Next time you open the same text in Notepad, you will need to perform the same direction switch again.

Access through the Ctrl key

Direction marks

As described above, Microsoft Windows Hebrew keyboard has a Ctrl ] shortcut to insert the Unicode right-to-left mark. Same effect can be achieved with Ctrl Shift 4. The shortcuts for left-to-right mark are Ctrl [ and Ctrl Shift 3.


The shortcut for Unit Separator character 1F (^_) is Ctrl -. The shortcut for Record Separator character 1E (^^) is Ctrl 6. Note that in Notepad, or any Windows standard text box, these characters can be easily inserted via the context menu Insert Unicode control character.

Access through the AltGr key

Sheqel symbol

The symbol "₪", which represents the sheqel sign, can be typed into Microsoft Windows on a standard Hebrew keyboard layout by pressing AltGr and 4 (20px) or by Alt +20AA on a non-Hebrew layout.

Euro symbol

For a Euro sign, one would press the AltGr and "E (ק) key".


The rafe is a niqqud that is essentially no longer used in Hebrew. However, it used in Yiddish spelling (according to YIVO standards). It is accessed differently from other nequddot. The rafe is input by pressing the AltGr key and the "-" key:

Niqqud Input
Input Key Type Result
AltGr+- AltGr + 35px Rafe סֿ

Note Ⅰ: The letter "O" represents whatever Hebrew letter is used.

Yiddish digraphs

File:Yiddish typewriter.JPG
Yiddish typewriters had a layout slightly different from Hebrew, to include the digraphs

These Yiddish diagraphs are not used in Hebrew; if one wanted two vavs, a vav-yud, or two yuds in Hebrew, one would enter the desired keys independently.

Yiddish digraphs Input
Input Digraph Result
AltGr and Vav (U) Double Vav װ
AltGr and Khet (J) Vav Yud ױ
AltGr and Yud (H) Double Yud ײ

Inaccessible punctuation

For more details on this topic, see Hebrew punctuation.

Certain Hebrew punctuation, such as the geresh, gershayim, maqaf, pasuq, sof pasuq, and cantillation marks, are not accessible through the standard Hebrew keyboard layout. As a result, similar looking punctuation is often used instead. For example, a quotation mark is often used for a gershayim, an apostrophe for a geresh, a hyphen for a maqaf, a vertical bar for a pasuq, and a colon for a sof pasuq.

See also


External links