If you run OS X with multiple keyboards or input methods (as, for example, English and Japanese), suddenly you find yourself confronted with a menubar that now features a flag that purportedly indicates your default keyboard or input method. This approach is only mildly ill-advised from a standpoint of internationalization; keyboards and input methods are mostly, but not always, linked to nations. (It’s not like using flags to select a language on a Web site. Tell me: Whose flag gets to represent English?)

At any rate, if you have a U.S. or Canadian Macintosh and multiple input methods selected, the system defaults to a U.S. keyboard, hence displays a U.S. flag. That’s perfectly appropriate for Americans or U.S. residents, but is not appropriate for me.

How do you turn it off?

You can’t, unless you hide the menu altogether. All you can do is replace it with something else. And you can’t replace it with the Canadian flag, since the Canadian keyboard in OS X through version 10.3 is the CSA Z243.200-92 bilingual keyboard that nobody, absolutely nobody, uses. (It’s not even available on the Canadian Apple Store, unless “French Canadian” is their term for it. But, by spec, it is not a “French Canadian” keyboard.) Choose that option and your U.S. keyboard will misbehave. (Try it and see. Concentrate on the right side of the keyboard.)

You have to select a third country. The obvious choice is Australia, since their Macintosh keyboards, like ours, are U.S. keyboards.

Take the following steps:

  1. Open System Preferences (from the Dock, from Applications, or from the Apple  menu)
  2. Select International
  3. Select Input Menu
  4. Assuming you have more than one item checked already, turn on Australian
    Input Menu screenshot, with Japanese, Character Palette, Keyboard Viewer, Kotoeri, Australian, and Canada—CSA selected
  5. Close the window
  6. The flag in your menubar is an actual menu. Australian should be near the top in the alphabetical list. Select it

Voilà: You can type away on your U.S. keyboard without a U.S. flag staring you in the face.

Australian flags in 10.2 and 10.3 menubars

My solution is, in effect, half-arsed: The correct thing for Apple to do is to map a keyboard onto all national flags that use it. In essence, I want a Canadian flag in my menubar, or something better. Perhaps this oversight will be corrected in a later system version.

(Cf. typing in Vietnamese; French IBM Model M keyboards.)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2004.10.31 15:40. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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