Polytonic Greek Unicode keyboard for Mac OS X 10.3.x+

Download links (right click and “Save link as…”)

  • Newest version
    • Keyboard layout file and the associated icon file for this keyboard in this zipped file
      Or available separately (though trickier to download in the correct format):
    • Greek KoineRD (the keylayout file)
    • The separate icon file
  • Documentation (.pdf) alone (for the original version of the keyboard (which had a different name), but the info is the same for both)

The files <Greek KoineRD.keylayout> and <PolytonicGreekRD.keylayout> are Mac OS X 10.2+ Unicode keyboard layout files for polytonic Greek (classical and koine). They are designed to follow the TLG transliteration scheme. This enables a simple, easy-to-remember system for representing Greek, including full diacritics. On Windows this has been implemented by Manuel Lopez as a keyboard (“Classical Greek”) for Tavultesoft’s Keyman. The same general system has been followed here, though reflecting the necessary adaptations to the Mac OS. (The primary difference is that the diacritic is typed first, then the letter; using Keyman on Windows the letter is typed first, then the diacritic.) This provides not only an easy to use keyboard for Mac users, but greatly simplifies life for those of us who move back and forth between Mac and Windows systems.

Quick install instructions (see documentation for more detail): copy both files above (Greek KoineRD.keyloyout and Greek KoineRD.icns) to the folder: ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/ then log out and back in,then…

  • In Leopard (10.5), open the International Preferences pane
  • In Snow Leopard (10.6. open the Language and Text pane
  • In either of these, on the Input Menu tab, check the Greek KoineRD listing.
  • Also check “Show Input menu in menu bar” in the bottom right of the same dialog, then “Greek KoineRD” should appear as a menu item in the Input menu–the American flag icon in the main menu bar at the top right of your screen. More info and documentation is available here.

All the info on this page is also included in the documentation file (see above), along with samples of the full range of polytonic Greek characters that can be entered, and also installation and usage instructions. (If you do not have an appropriate font and OS, some of the characters on this page will not display correctly.)

The TLG beta code transliteration for alphabetic characters has been followed:


a b g d e z h q I k l m n c o p r s t u f x y w

produces the Greek alphabet:

α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω

Diacritics are entered as follows. Before typing, e.g., a vowel with a breathing mark, first type the dead key for the diacritic, then type the vowel. The dead keys which overstrike the next character (where appropriate) are as follows:

Acute                           /

Grave                           \

Circumflex                   =

Smooth breathing       ]

Rough breathing         [

Iota subscript              |

Diaresis                        +

Breve                           –

Macron                        _

Note that the shape of many of these is very mnemonic:  the forward and back slash mimic the slope of the acute and grave accents, and the square brackets face the same direction as the corresponding breathing mark, etc. This simplicity and memorability are the reasons that Lopez’s implementation has been so easy to learn and use.

All of these diacritics stack (if appropriate) and they can be typed in any order. Be careful with line spacing! With stacked diacritics it sometimes appears on screen as if the top element is missing (esp. a circumflex over a breathing mark). Increasing the line spacing fixes this apparent problem (in Word, use a fixed line spacing of at least 15 pts. for 12 pt. text).

When a dead key is typed before an inappropriate letter (e.g., a consonant), either the diacritic itself will appear in front of the consonant or in some cases (esp. with compound diacritics involving an iota subscript), nothing will appear. Diacritics are not entered alone in Greek text, but typing the dead key followed by a space will often generate that character in this keyboard layout. This is primarily for didactic purposes since when teaching Greek (as I do) it is often desirable to be able to represent the diacritic by itself in classroom materials.

A few characters use the Mac option key, but this is not the usual method of text entry with this keyboard layout. Final sigma [ς] is entered with option-s. Diagamma  is on the ‘v’ key (both regular and shifted). Other characters (e.g. koppa) can be found by exploring with Apple’s Keyboard Viewer (found under the Text Input menu at the right end of the menu bar—assuming you have it turned on, which will be necessary to use this keyboard layout anyway.) Not all obsolete characters are included, nor are the modern monotonic characters, but they can all be found and entered with the Keyboard Viewer or the Character Palette.

I have also included easy access to the Nestle-Aland text critical symbols (approved in Unicode 4.1). These are on the number row using the option key (option-`, 1, 2 … 9, 0, -, =). Most fonts do not yet have these symbols, but a few do (including my own Galilee Unicode font—though two are incorrect since I created this before the Unicode assignment was finalized; I’ll fix that when I get time). You can also check David Perry’s Cardo font which does include them.

These keyboard layouts were created with Ukelele, a Mac OS X program that enables “click and drag” creation of such keyboard layouts.