I'm from Belgium, and on my own user account, the input source is set to a Belgian (actually French) keyboard. The input sources menu is enabled in the menu bar, so I can switch it to the Belgian keyboard before entering my password, but how can I permanently change the input source used for login? I'm the system admin, and I know how to get root access if necessary.

It worked perfectly in Mountain Lion.


I always got the french layout instead of canadian french at logon screen.
Here's the solution that worked for me:

  1. I found that Logon keyboard layout (i.e. french) correspond to:

    defaults read /Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist

  2. The desired keyboard layout (i.e. canadian french) is saved here:

    defaults read ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist
    (Notice the ~ !)

  3. To resolve this I changed the logon keyboard to the desired one by overwriting the .plist file (after ensuring that the source plist doesn't contain any occurrence of the unwanted layout):

    • View the file with plutil -convert json ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist; vi ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist; plutil -convert binary1 ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist and ensure that there is no occurrence of the unwanted layout (even in the History).

    • sudo cp ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist /Library/Preferences/

    • sudo chmod 644 /Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist

Log off and it's OK. :)

  • 1
    Smart solution, but didn't work for me, even tried fixing file permissions and make it owned by me, didn't help either, do you have any more info ? – Mostafa Berg Jan 11 '14 at 14:49
  • Just found the fix !, i needed to chmod it to 644 !, thanks a billion ! – Mostafa Berg Jan 11 '14 at 15:55

Set it up how you want it in your account and then copy your user com.apple.HIToolbox.plist onto the system one, then reboot.

Run this in Terminal:

sudo cp ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist /Library/Preferences/

…then restart your computer without going to the login screen (choose restart from the Apple menu without logging out first)


You can change the input source by showing the Input menu in the login window, then selecting your alternative keyboard layout, then logging in to the root account.

  1. Open System PreferencesUsers & Groups.

  2. Unlock the preference pane and select Login Options.

  3. Select Show Input menu in login window.

  4. Immediately log in to the root account.

    The root account should maintain the same selection as the login window. If not, change the input source to match that of the login window, then log out. Both the login window and root account should have the same input source for it to stay permanent.

  • 1
    I'm not sure this works. All the admins on my machine have the Dvorak input, but my login keeps resetting to US. – JoshRagem Nov 9 '13 at 13:39
  • @Josh Admin accounts don’t affect the login screen; have you changed the root account? I know you’ll have read the answer but I just want to double-check because your comment only refers to admins. – grg Aug 13 at 22:17

Just delete the /Library/Preferences/com.apple.HIToolbox.plist do the job for me.


Why is everyone making it so complex. The easiest would be:

newton02:~ templahum$ sudo languagesetup

and then you get:


Entering password will show you this. Select your language and move hit Return. You are done!

 1. Use English for the main language
 2. Utiliser le français comme langue principale
 3. Deutsch als Standardsprache verwenden
 4. Some language
 5. Some other language
 6. Some some other language
 7. Usar español como idioma principal

 q) Quit? 1
 System Language set to: en
  • You seem to have misread the question, which concerns the default input source on the login page, NOT the system language. Even with the system language set to en, there are perhaps a dozen different input sources one might want to have as their default. Since your answer is irrelevant to the issue raised by the question, I recommend you delete it. – Tom Gewecke Oct 14 '16 at 16:10

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