[Archive] Nigerian Language Keyboards for Mac OS X

The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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This has been superseded by the Nigerian Keyboards for Mac OS X and Windows which support all Nigerian languages.

The text below is retained for historical purposes only. Don’t use the keyboard below, because the one linked above is superior.

Nigeria has a little over 500 languages in active use today and many of those are developing their writing systems. In many cases they use extra vowels not present in English or Hausa alphabets. To type texts correctly and quickly in those languages you need an appropriate keyboard set up on your computer.

Here are two keyboards for Macs which I designed using Ukelele:

What you need

An Apple computer running Mac OS X 10.6, or 10.5 (tested) very likely back to 10.2 (Jaguar). Can someone with Lion (10.7) please confirm whether it’s working? It should be.


Open  > System Preferences… > Language & Text
  1. Download the .zip files above, double-click to unzip it (unless that happened automatically) and you’ll get a .bundle file.
  2. Move that into your/Library/Keyboard Layouts folder.
  3. Open System Preferences > Languages & Text
  4. Click Input Sources and look for the Nigeria languages.

    Switch to the Input Sourcestab and scroll down the list of languages to find Nigeria Odd Vowels or Nigerian Northern Languages. Put a tick in that box and it’ll join the list of languages available on your computer for you to type with. Note the keyboard shortcuts given for changing keyboards.




How to type with these keyboards

  • a̱e̱i̱o̱u̱ (underline vowels) əɛɨɔ (odd vowels) ɓɗƙ (both)
    • Most special letters are produced by holding down the alt key (option on some keyboards) and then pressing the key. All vowels and b d k keys have alternate forms. For the upper case versions, just hold down the shift key too.
    • alt-$ gives ₦
  • Tone & Nasal
    • Type ` (beside left shift on my MacBook) then a vowel to get low tone marked with a grave ` accent.
    • Type / then a vowel to get high tone marked with an acute ´ accent.
    • Type \ then a vowel to get falling tone marked with a circumflex ^.
    • Hold down alt (option) then press n to enter ‘nasal mode’, indicated by ~. Then type any vowel and you will get the nasal form.


  • Let me know if you enjoy it, or if you have other suggestions that could improve its use. A version for French or Arabic keyboards might be helpful, but I can’t do that so easily.

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