This page overviews how to type in the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used in the Russian language.

Stuck in a lab/cafe/library? edit

Even if you have no administrator access, you can still type in Cyrillic by using an online keyboard:

Ubuntu 9.04 edit

Step 1 add the keyboard layout indicator applet to the panel edit

  • Right click on the main panel, somewhere where it is empty and gray.
    • (ie, move the mouse all the way to the top left hand corner of the screen, right click)
  • click 'add to panel'
  • choose the 'keyboard indicator' applet
  • You should see a new panel applet, with something like 'USA' printed on it.
  • Right click the 'USA'
  • Go to Keyboard Preferences
  • Click Layouts
  • Click Add

Step 2 choose a layout edit

  • You can search under Russian Language, there are several options.
  • If you have a US/English keyboard, you might like the 'USA Phonetic Russian' layout. You can only find this by looking under English language or United States as a country.
  • Add it
  • Now, you should be able to switch your layout by left-clicking on the applet.
    • It should switch from saying USA to Rus or USA to USA2.
    • Try clicking it, and typing in cyrillic.

Step 4 tweaking edit

  • If you want to switch layout via keyboard---
    • Right click on the applet
    • Go to keyboard preferences
    • Layouts
    • Layout Options
    • Keys to switch layout
  • If you are using the USA Russian Phonetic layout you can use a 'level 3' key to instantly let you type punctuation and other normal US-english characters. Look under layout options/keys for level 3.
  • Alternative: You can also use SCIM

KDE edit

Note: the X server configuration (see #XFree86 below) may conflict with KDE settings if you change both.

Make sure you have Russian i18n installed. Go to Regional & Accessibility - Keyboard Layout in the KDE Control Center. Add the Russian layout to your active layouts. You might want to choose the phonetic Layout variant (yawerty, or яверты). With the flag icon in your taskbar you can now switch between different layouts.

Many letters now are where you expect them to be (for example s - с, p - п, g - г), but some others are harder to find:

  • ` ю
  • = ч
  • [ ш
  • ] щ
  • \ э
  • # ё (shift 3)
  • $ Ё (shift 4)

Mac OS X edit

You don't need to install any software or fonts, but you do need to add Russian to your computer's list of languages.

Open System Preferences from the Dock and click on 'International'.

There you will find a tab called 'Languages' containing a list which may already include Russian. If it isn't there, click 'Edit List' and add it.

Don't put Russian at the top of your list unless you want to start using Russian date styles or list attributes in all of your applications.

Another tab called 'Input Menu' in the same place will allow you to choose a keyboard layout such as Cyrillic or Phonetic.

Then you can switch keyboard layouts and languages at any time using the flag icon in the top-right of the screen.

Windows edit


Instructions follow for adding a traditional Russian keyboard layout for Windows, however many may prefer to use a phonetic Russian keyboard layout. The setup is slightly more involved as the user must either create or use an existing third party keyboard layout. One way to set up common versions of Windows with a phonetic Russian layout is to follow Paul Gorodyansky's instructions on his "Russification" site using files he has created for this purpose. The relevant English language page is

For Windows 2000: edit

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Go to Settings...Control Panel.
  3. Double-click Keyboard.
  4. Click the Input Locales tab.
  5. Click the Change... button to bring up the Text Services window.
  6. Under Installed Services, click Add....
  7. In the drop-down list of input languages, select Russian and click OK.
  8. If you would like to change between keyboard inputs without going through the Control Panel each time, click the Language Bar button under Preferences in the Text Services window. Next select to Show the Language Bar on the Desktop and click OK.
  9. To exit, click OK in the Text Services window and in the Keyboard Properties window.

If you don't see "Russian" in the list:

  1. Go back to Control Panel.
  2. Double-click Regional Options
  3. Under Language Settings for the system check off Cyrillic
  4. Click OK

Note: You might need Windows 2000 CD>

Better to check Cyrillic off during installation of Windows.

Windows XP edit

To set up the keyboard for Cyrillic Russian/Ukraine in Windows XP

  1. click on 'Start'
  2. Go to 'Control Panel'
  3. Click 'Regional & Language Options'
  4. Click 'Language' tab
  5. Click 'Settings'
  6. Add 'Russian'
  7. Click 'Apply' and then 'OK'

Windows Vista and Windows 7

To add the Cyrillic keyboard for use on your computer:

  1. Click on the windows logo in the bottom left hand corner
  2. Click the Control Panel button (or clickable text if you have it set that way)
  • For ease of finding this, press in the left pane "Switch to classic view"
  1. Now select Regional and Language Options
  2. Click on the Keyboards and Languages tab
  3. Press Change Keyboards
  • A window should appear that lists all the installed languages to your computer. This window should be called Text Services and Input Languages
  1. Press Add...
  2. Now scroll down to where it says Russian (Russia)
  3. Expand that menu by pressing the +
  • If the dropdown menu Keyboard isn't already expanded, press that too
  1. Now checkbox Russian and press OK, and then Apply.
  • If this is the first language you've added to this computer, a small icon near your taskbar that says "EN" should appear, to change the input language to Russian for whatever window you have opened, press it and select RU.
  • Please note, every time you change windows (say from an IM window to your browser) it will keep your language setting on the previous window, and the new one will be set to use your default input language, which is most likely EN.

Keyboard icon wil show on taskbar. Left click to toggle between English and Russian.

As an added help, apply keyboard stickers for Cyrillic Russian/Ukraine. You can find them on e-Bay, under 'stickers, Keyboard, under Computer/Networking. They are available in several colors and are quite reasonable.

XFree86 edit

XFree86 4.3 may be configured for Russian keyboard layout in the Keyboard InputDevice section of the configuration file (typically /etc/X11/XF86Config). Add the following two lines to that section:

        Option          "XkbLayout"     "us,ru"
        Option          "XkbOptions"    "grp:shift_toggle"

This arrangement will allow you to switch between US and Russian layouts by pressing the shift keys together. Note that this configuration is independent of the desktop environment (GNOME, KDE) or window manager (sawfish, metacity, kwin) in use, and might conflict with it if you change both.

X.Org edit

Same as XFree86, but the configuration file is called “xorg.conf”.