For the last couple of years, I’ve fallen more and more back in love with Macs. One of their foibles is that Apple have decided the standard British English, or UK, keyboard layout should not match that of every other computer manufacturer on the planet. Various characters are just in the wrong place, such as quotation marks, backslash, hash mark (or pound, for my American friends), tilde, and so on. In Tiger and Leopard, I used Phil Gyford’s awesome instructions and the associated .rsrc file as to how to sort this defect out, at least in software.

So now Snow Leopard is out, and it’s fab and lovely and nippy and dices and slices and so on. An immediate downside (apart from having to manually upgrade Xcode to 3.2, and reinstall MacPorts from .dmg to make that bit work again) is that the trusty icle .rsrc doesn’t work any more. Well, it works, but it doesn’t stick; OS X keeps switching back to standard British English, which means when I try to type out quotes, it comes out with at signs. This is ungood.

However, the Internet to the rescue! Some kind soul has posted new keyboard layouts for OS X to correctly map the British English key layout. Just download and extract the zip file linked to from that page, copy the files from inside the zip to either /Library/Keyboard Layouts off the root of your hard disk, or ~/Library/Keyboard Layouts in your home directory, then log out and log back in again. Go to System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources, then tick British (PC105). If things don’t seem consistently correct, try British (PC105 alt).

Bosh, sorted, and I can touch type again!

Update 2010-02-13: apparently this works on Dell Mini netbooks too, so Hackintosh people can get the benefit as well. Bonus!

14 thoughts on “Getting the UK Keyboard Layout Right in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

  1. I went the other way when I switched to the Mac. I use Auto Hot Key along with bootcamp utils on my PC desktop in work to map the keys to be more maclike.

    Works a treat and less RSI I think with cmd being the main operator key.

    MacPorts reinstall… That’s put me off upgrading for now too.

    1. Acht, it's no that bad, Ian. Upgrade Xcode from the DVD, download the teeny, tiny dmg from macports.org, install it, and macports will work (the installed applications will work fine without, but port itself won't), then run:

      sudo port upgrade installed

      and go get some coffee. If you have a dual or quad core mac, you should edit /opt/local/etc/macports/macports.conf and change buildmakejobs 1 to 3 🙂

    2. Acht, it's no that bad, Ian. Upgrade Xcode from the DVD, download the teeny, tiny dmg from macports.org, install it, and macports will work (the installed applications will work fine without, but port itself won't), then run:

      sudo port upgrade installed

      and go get some coffee. If you have a dual or quad core mac, you should edit /opt/local/etc/macports/macports.conf first and change buildmakejobs 1 to 3 🙂

  2. Hi,

    This isn't working for me. I've copied these .icns & .keylayout files to the specified directories (Keyboard Layouts in System and my user dir) and they never show up in 'Input Sources' in system prefs.

    I'm using OS X 10.6.2

  3. Life saver.. this was really starting to get on my tits as i didn't know what to do.. cheers mate!

  4. This doesn't work for me. The keymap is listed in Input Sources, but there is already a greyed out checked box next to the original "British" that I can't uncheck, and checking the one I want (British 105) doesn't change anything. 🙁

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