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What is a Keyboard Layout

The world of computers and Internet is very much a multilingual one and the number of people using their computers in languages other than English is very much in a rapidly increasing majority. With each new release of Windows, more languages are supported, both in terms of the user interface language and the supported languages for input. Gone are the days where most computer users were restricted to using the standard QUERTY keyboard.

A keyboard layout is used for typing in different languages or regional variations or simply for matching the keyboard for the region and language that it belongs to. Windows 7 includes hundreds of different keyboard layouts and, to work more effectively in different languages, it's useful to install keyboard layouts for each one that you use.

Many languages have multiple keyboard layouts which vary depending on the region. For example, the United Kingdom uses a slightly different keyboard layout than the United States. On a United Kingdom keyboard layout, for example, pressing "Shift" and "3" enters the "" symbol whereas, on a United States keyboard layout, the "$" symbol appears. Other languages have various different letters and symbols which, without the correct keyboard layout installed, cannot be entered just by pressing one button on the keyboard. Other languages use completely different keyboard layouts to accommodate different alphabets and writing systems.

Keyboard layouts can be added or removed by going to the Clock, Language and Region section of the Control Panel in Windows Vista and Windows 7. It's also possible to design your own keyboard layouts by using a tool such as Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. This is useful if you regularly work in two or more languages and you don't want to have to keep switching between different layouts every time you want to write in a different language. Making a custom keyboard layout is also the only option if your language or regional variation is not available in the list of installable keyboard layouts in Windows.


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