Setting Polish characters such as ćęś on an American PC
This is actually is quite simple. The process involves
- Setting up a Polish
keyboard (the programmer's keyboard is recommended) in
addition to a regular, English keyboard that is the default around
- Switching to the Polish
keyboard when you want to use it
- Making sure that the
keyboard is on when you use a program such as a text editor or
- Typing Polish characters
by using Right-Alt
Click here for an advice on Apple computers
Setting up the Polish programmer's
Click here for Windows XP
Setting up Vista is very similar to Windows7 - see below
Setting up the Polish
Click on Start -> Control Panel ->
Change keyboards or other input methods
Click on Add
Scroll down to
Polish, choose the Programmers keyboard
BTW. Polish (214)
is the standard Polish keyboard layout as in native keyboards or
typewriters, ones that actually do have separate keys with ś or ć on
them. This is used only by the professional typists. I don't know
anybody who could use that keyboard - I think ś and ć would be somewhere
in vicinity of keys with . and , Don't even think about trying it,
unless you want to get frustrated!
I have no idea
what the United States-International is. Probably some standard deemed
very important by some standardization body. Ignore it.
How to use
the Programmers keyboard is explained in due course below.
Anyway, Click OK, to add the Programmers
This is what you should see - Polish on top.
If it's not there, click on Polish and then on Move Up button to
move it up.
It is actually a
personal preference to have the Polish keyboard on all the time, but I find it easier to
use when it is setup as the default. When you want to write English as
usual, you simply don't use the right-Alt convention for Polish diacriticals.
Click OK to
close, you are done.
Setting up the
Polish keyboard on Windows XP
On Windows XP you start by going to Regional & Language Options.
Start -> Control Panel -> Regional &
Now Click on Details
Click on Add
Now pick up Polish (Programmers)
Be sure to pick up the Polish (Programmers) driver, as the other
driver is for old style professional typists only ant the right-Alt
method of typing works only with the Programmers keyboard.
This is what you should see
The keyboard is switched from English to Polish with the help of
the EN button on the Task Bar (lower right corner usually)
Switching to the Polish keyboard
When you have more than one keyboard to
choose from, the system tells you which one is currently in use by a
language marker on the task
bar. Look at the right bottom corner of your screen (typically), you
might see the EN marker as below
These pictures are
from Windows 7, on Vista this is very similar, on XP the styling is
quite different but switching works exactly the same - see example of the XP
graphics at the end of this section.
English. Even if you have Polish keyboard as the default, it can get
switched by a system or a program. To change to Polish, just click on EN
to open the small dialog showing available keyboards ..
... and click on PL.
You should now see PL here
When in doubt which keyboard is on, always look there to check. This is as
simple as that.
Below an XP
graphics for comparison
Making sure the keyboard is on
The point is that
the keyboard must be switched to PL when you type Polish characters. It
can happen that when you start a program such a Microsoft Word or
keyboard might revert to EN.
To be sure you
have what you want, do this. Open Word (or other program you use, such
as another editor or browser) and click in the area you normally type
in. You need to see the cursor blinking inside the area, such as on a
Word document page somewhere.
While it blinks,
look at the keyboard indicator. If it shows PL, you are good to go. If
it shows EN, you need to click on it and switch to PL. Then click back
to the document and it should stay PL.
Typing Polish characters with Right-Alt
Please note that this method of typing
Polish characters works only with the Programmer keyboard. If it does
not seem to work, double checked if you picked up the Programmer
keyboard when setting up a Polish keyboard.
There are two Alt keys on the standard
keyboard: one key left to the space bar and the other key on right of
The Right-Alt key, that is the Alt key
on the right side of the space bar, is the key that is reserved for
native character support for different keyboards in all Microsoft
Windows systems. All the programs that claim to be compatible with
Microsoft Windows cannot use that key for other purposes.
Please note that the left Alt key has
nothing to do with typing special characters and programs are free to
use it as they see fit.
Using Right-Alt to type a Polish
character is simple. Press the right Alt and keep it down and then press
a Polish character that is the "base", then release both. For example to
type ć, press Right-Alt & c, to type ś, press Right-Alt & s etc. For Ń,
press Right-Alt & Shift & n. By convention, using z in this way produces
ż, press Right-Alt & x to type ź. (x is the only exception to the "base"