Using the Language toolbar in Windows 7

The Language toolbar offers a convenient way to specify the input language and keyboard layout you want to use. It's great for switching languages when multiple users (with differing language preferences) share a single computer—or when one of you geniuses who work in multiple languages needs to move from one lingo to the next.

If none of these situations applies to you and your computer, you may not see the Language toolbar at all. To see if it's there waiting for you, right-click on the taskbar and point to Toolbars. Choose Language if it's available, and the toolbar will float on your desktop, looking something like this:

Language Toolbar

The toolbar itself is a breeze to use. Consisting primarily of one or two pull-down menus, it lets you specify which language you're keying (or dictating with voice-recognition software) and/or which keyboard layout you're using.

If the Language toolbar isn't available at all—and you want to see or use it—just tell Windows you want to use multiple input languages. In the Control Panel, choose Region and Language, go to Keyboards and Languages, and click Change keyboards.

Region and Language Control Panel

Then, in the General tab of the Text Services and Input Languages pane, click Add and then select the languages and keyboards you yearn to use, close everything up, and then go back to the taskbar where you'll be able to fire up the Language toolbar.

The toolbar can be displayed anywhere on your desktop—simply drag it around—or you can drag it to the taskbar, where it will be displayed near the notifications area.

To make changes to the Language toolbar, right-click it and choose Settings, which takes you right back to the Text Services and Input Languages pane. The Language Bar tab lets you choose to dock or float the toolbar, make it transparent when inactive, and specify whether language and keyboard layout names are spelled out or merely abbreviated. (Note: Simply right-clicking the Language toolbar also gives you some of these options.)

If you need a little more help getting started, this will help:

Video: Add or change an input language

Did you catch that business about the Language toolbar sometimes being inactive? Even when you've specified multiple languages and/or keyboards, the Language toolbar may be inactive if you're not using software that lets you choose languages. (Example: Notepad doesn't let you choose languages, but WordPad and Word most certainly do!) If you've set it to be transparent when inactive ... well, you may have to look closely for it. That's why I like to keep it docked to the taskbar—but that's just me.

That's it for the Language toolbar, so farewell, adieu, and adios until next time.


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