Pages for mac now supports Hebrew, which is written from right to left. However, Pages does not seem to support custom keyboard layouts other than the system's Hebrew layout(s). I am using Shoshke's Yiddish Kayboard Layout for mac (I don't have enought "reputation" to post the link here, but it is actually not that important) on Yosemite, by the way, which allows me to type Yiddish with punctuation extremely effeciently.

When writing in Pages using the system's native Hebrew layout, this is what I get:

In Yosemite's native Hebrew keyboard layout, Pages for Mac renders the the text correctly.

However, when writing with my custom Yiddish keyboard (which was most probably created using Ukelele), I get this:

Bad right-to-left rendering in Pages for Mac, using a non-native keyboard layout.

As you can see, the period is on the right, while it should be on the left (at the end of the sentence). This is just an obvious example, but when mixing Yiddish and English in the same sentence the result is even worse.

Unfortunately, Pages' paragraph direction controls do not solve the problem. Pages obviously recognizes the input language and implements the right-to-left correcly only for languages it recognizes from the system's native keyboard layouts (e.g. "Hebrew").

Writing Yiddish with the native Hebrew keyboard is possible, but is much much slower for me. Therefore, I am looking for a way to still use the Yiddish keyboard in Pages, which seems very stable and rebust in comparison to other available word processors (not to mention that it was shipped for free with my new mac).

I see 4 ways to go about it:

  1. Editing the native Hebrew keyboard layout, adapting it to my needs (so far I could only find information about creating new custom keyboard layouts, not about changing the system's existing ones; this solution would actually be the best one - as there is absolutely no advanatge of the Hebrew native keyboard over the Yiddish one).
  2. Somehow making Yosemite believe that my custom Yiddish keyboard is a sort of "Hebrew" (currently it puts it under "Others" when installing it from the Keyboard preference pane, which explains why Pages does not identify it as an RTL language).
  3. Somehow making Pages believe that my Yiddish keyboard is a sort of "Hebrew".
  4. Programming keyboard-shortcuts for Pages that would immitate the custom keyboard's behaviour (so far I was only able to find ways to program keyboard-shortcuts for the app's menu items; maybe there is a third-party application that can program such shortcuts?)

I looked for answers online and tried to open the package contents of the Pages app and was just unable to discover how to achieve any of the four solutions... I would truly appreciate if anyone could help me out (and maybe there is another solution?)

Thank you very much!

  • Do you have the same problem in TextEdit. Or LibreOffice? Sep 4 '15 at 12:42
  • TextEdit and LibreOffice both work fine as they have paragraph direction controls. LibreOffice has other problems with Hebrew and Yiddish, problems which are completely solved in NeoOffice.
    – Tulughma
    Sep 5 '15 at 13:18
  • Could you mention the problems with LibreOffice? I often recommend that for RTL, and perhaps I should add caveats... Sep 5 '15 at 14:36
  • The RTL problem is both with LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Adding a space after the last period in a paragraph behaves weirdly, but that would be tolerable (you would just need to make sure no paragraph ends with a space). Hebrew with vowels punctuation, however, produces serious bugs for both LibreOffice and OpenOffice. Most Hebrew users don't use vowels, so they wouldn't care. For me, on the other hand, it is impossible to work like that. The trial version of the newest NeoOffice (2014.13), however, seems to work without any bugs... But it's costy and not as convenient as Pages.
    – Tulughma
    Sep 5 '15 at 15:49
  • Thanks, very useful. Sometimes problems with the vowels is only a font issue, I guess I should test a few... Sep 5 '15 at 16:02

Pages 5 does have paragraph direction controls. See


Regarding 4, you can make text replacement sequences in system prefs/keyboard/text

Regarding 1 and 2, you might ask in the group devoted to Ukelele


In that group they suggested opening the layout with the latest version of Ukelele and setting the Language to Hebrew. I tried that and saved as a bundle and it did the trick: The layout appears under Hebrew instead of Others and periods go in the right place.

  • Thank you for your answer! Unfortunately, Pages' paragraph direction controls do not solve the problem. I will ask in the Ukelele forum. As for your solution for 4, I don't see how there I can add key combinations (for example, in my Yiddish keyboard, Shift+R gives me אָ = Alef with the "Kamats" vowel, known as "komets" in Yiddish, which is extremely frequent in Yiddish), besides, it only works with full words (I tried replacing אא with אָ, but it wouldn't work when written in the middle words). Solving my problem with solution 4 should probably entail some third-party app... But which?
    – Tulughma
    Sep 5 '15 at 13:27
  • Text replacement requires at least 2 characters for the trigger, and I think it may need a space afterwards in some apps. Separate apps like atext or typeitforme might be worth a try. Sep 5 '15 at 14:54
  • Thank you Tom. Both apps define abbreviations for automatic text replacement. I am looking for cutstom keyboard shortcuts... Many word processors have this option. Pages, however, relies on the system's shortcuts manager, which can only assign shortcutes to menu items. After googling a bit, it seems that the new Pages can also assign shortcuts for styles. But this still does not help me. Thank you for trying to help Tom.
    – Tulughma
    Sep 5 '15 at 15:41
  • Yes, for custom shortcuts like that you need Ukelele or Karabiner. You might look at the latter, it works at a deeper level (too deep for me) than Ukelele. Sep 5 '15 at 16:04
  • Karabiner seems very interesting. Thank you very much!
    – Tulughma
    Sep 5 '15 at 23:17

I was able to solve this problem with Ukelele. The said keyboard layout was created with a previous version of Ukelele. Opening the .keylayout file with the newest version (3.0b2) was possible, but it was not possible to access the language setting (through "Keyboard -> Set Keyboard Language..."). Instead, I switched to my Yiddish custom keyboard and then, in Ukelele, "File -> New From Current Input Source." I could then change the language settings to Hebrew (note that you should only change where it says "Language (required)", and certainly not "Script (optional)". doing that mysteriously prevents the system from classifying the keyboard layout under "Hebrew", and puts it instead in "Others"). I could then save the keyboard layout as a .bundle package, move it to Library/Keyboard Layouts, and add it through "System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Input Sources -> +". This it, it appeared under "Hebrew", and not under "Others". After a system restart, Pages is now able to treat my updated Yiddish keyboard layout as if it were Hebrew, that is with correct right-to-left functionality!

Thank you Tom for referring me the Ukelele Google Group. They were able to put me on the right track!

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