How do I change (switch) the input language in Mac OSX (English->Russian->Hebrew). In Windows it is done by pressing alt-shift. What is the equivalent in OSX ?

6 Answers 6


Since 2011, things have slightly changed!

Keyboard Pref Panel

The tab Shortcuts in the keyboard panel now has a new sub-section Input Sources (see screenshot). By default these are unchecked. If you enable both commands they will be available by hitting ^ ControlSpace or ^ Control⌥ OptionSpace.


Go to  > System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources.

Make sure an entry for each of 'English', 'Hebrew' and 'Russian' are checked. (I don't know which encoding you'll choose, e.g. 'Hebrew' or 'Hebrew - QWERTY'). Also ensure the uppermost box, 'Keyboard & Character Viewer' is checked.

Now you'll have something that looks like this:


You can select your language with the mouse or you can activate keyboard shortcuts, as seen below:


Both these keyboard shortcuts are already taken by other functions. These are functions that I use far more frequently than when I want to, in my case, shift between 'Australian' and 'Thai'. So in my case it's not worth making a keyboard shortcut to switch languages. This may be different for you however.

If you wish to activate, say, ⌘Space, you'll first need to disown that from whatever is currently using it. In my case ⌘Space opens a Spotlight search box and I use this all the time.


The shortcuts are ⌘␣ and ⌥⌘␣ by default, but can be changed in Keyboard.prefPane:


According to the Language & Text preference pane, the shortcuts are:

-space (command-space) - previous input source
⌥⌘-space (command-option-space) - next input source

Of course these shortcuts are already being used by Spotlight, so if you have that active they won't work.

Fortunately, you can just click the Keyboard Shortcuts button to choose the command shortcuts you'd prefer.

Either way, you should see an Input menu in your menu bar, probably next to the battery indicator. If you don't, you need to go to System Preferences > Language & Text, click on "Input Sources", and check the languages you want to have added. At that point, the Input menu will show up and you'll be able to set the keyboard shortcuts.

Note that you can also just choose the language you prefer from the Input menu if you don't care about using a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Go to the Keyboard pane in System Preferences
  2. Select the Input Sources tab
  3. Click the plus button on the bottom left
  4. Select your language
  5. Choose the appropriate language layout

If you still have trouble, refer this brief tutorial : http://www.infozub.com/2013/11/how-to-change-keyboard-language-in-os-x.html


After adding desired input sources as user63024 said, you need to check the Shortcuts tab (in my case System Preferences > Language & Region > Keyboard Preferences > Shortcuts) to check whether all your input sources are checked.

Then you can see the shortcuts to switch between them. And of course you can change them if you want. But remember, if you see the alarm icon beside the shortcut, it means some other option uses this shortcut key already, so you have to change one of those shortcut keys as a shortcut key has to be unique.

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