Hardware Basics: At the hardware interface level, all computer keyboards are the same. This is why a fully printed Hebrew keyboard or Hebrew keyboard stickers will work the same way.
When you press a key, the keyboard generates a “scan code” instead of a letter. The operating system, with the help of a keyboard layout file, decides what the scan code means – an English G or a Hebrew Gimmel. Thus changing your language is simply a matter of loading a different keyboard layout file. All Aleph-Board Hebrew keyboards and Hebrew sticker sets come with keyboard files which match our layouts. Keyboard files are available via download from our website.
Hebrew Support: Hebrew adds a bit of complexity compared to many other languages. First, Hebrew is written from right to left, opposite of most languages in the world. Second, Hebrew nikud (vowels and grammar marks) are placed under, over, to the side, or inside the letters, and the placement can vary from letter to letter. Hebrew support is common, but is not universal. Your operating system and programs must already support Hebrew in order for Aleph-Board products to work.
Microsoft Windows (since XP) and Mac OS X (since 10.4) already have the ability to support Hebrew. All you need are the right programs, keyboard software, and a Hebrew keyboard or key cap stickers that tells you where the Hebrew letters are located. (That’s where we come in.)
Windows: Almost all programs support Hebrew, including all of MS Office, email clients, word processors, even lyrics in music writing programs, and many, many more. In addition to MS Word, DavkaWriter is a popular Hebrew-English word processor with full Hebrew support. (See note about DavkaWriter below.)
Mac OS X: Popular word processors with full Hebrew support include Nisus Writer and Mellel. Word for Mac is not compatible with Hebrew but other parts of Office 2011, including Outlook, are compatible. Other applications that support Hebrew include almost everything written by Apple that comes with OS X, such as TextEdit, the Mac email app, and many others. Any application written with the Cocoa API has native Hebrew support. Unfortunately, many Mac apps continue to be written and updated using the older Carbon API, which does not support Hebrew. If you intend to use Hebrew in a specific program, you may need to check with the application developer.
DavkaWriter: This popular Hebrew-English word processor is a special case. DavkaWriter uses its own keyboard driver which cannot be changed. It runs natively in Windows and there are versions that run in Windows emulation on a Mac. We have designed Model א to be compatible with DavkaWriter. If you are using the Hebrew QWERTY layout in DavkaWriter, be sure to order only Model א keyboards and key cap sticker sets.
Right-to-Left (RTL) support: For the best experience, your program should have the ability to mark paragraphs and sections of text as RTL (Right-to-Left). Word (Windows only), DavkaWriter (Windows and Mac), Mellel (Mac), and Nisus Writer (Mac) all have full RTL support. This means your paragraphs will be right-justified and periods will stay at the end of Hebrew sentences where they belong. In programs without RTL support, you can write in Hebrew with full nikud (vowels and grammar marks), but the paragraphs are left justified (like English) and the periods don’t stay put in the last sentence of a paragraph. Many programs have “hidden” RTL support via keyboard shortcuts that work in Windows or Mac OS X. Details can be found in the documentation that comes with every keyboard and sticker set.
Fonts: The fonts you use must support Unicode and have Hebrew glyphs (characters). All modern TrueType and OpenType fonts are Unicode compliant. Not all fonts have Hebrew glyphs, and frustratingly, some fonts with Hebrew characters don’t render nikud correctly. Not to worry, though. Both Windows and OS X come with several fonts that work well in Hebrew. There are also many free fonts available on the Internet that do an excellent job with Hebrew letters and nikud. Font resources (and many other Hebrew typing tips) are listed in the ReadMe file contained in the software download.
Unicode: This is a geeky detail that is usually hidden from view. To use our keyboard, sticker set, or any modern day Israeli keyboard for that matter, the programs and fonts you use must support Unicode. Almost all modern programs support Unicode.