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I'm using macOS High Sierra (10.13.6) on a MacBook Pro 15. In the Keyboard Preferences pane, I have "Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar" option in the "Keyboard" tab turned on:

Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar

Sure enough, as desired, there's a menubar icon that, when clicked shows these in a menu:

Keyboard and Emoji Viewers menu

Here's the strange thing: sometimes that icon is the "window with command key icon" icon:

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and sometimes it's a US flag:

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When it's a flag, clicking it turns it back to the "window with command key icon" icon, and shows the previous menu.

My guess is that this is triggered by my having the "Show Input menu in menu bar" option in the Keyboard Preferences' "Input Sources" tab turned on:

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If I turn "Show keyboard" off and leave "Show Input menu" on, then the icon stays a US Flag, and reliably shows an input menu:

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So: any idea why these two menus can't coexist, and that the "Show viewers" option (mostly) overrides the "Input sources" optoin? Is this a macOS bug?

  • Definitely seems like a bug. I believe on my machine that menu includes both input sources and the keyboard viewer/emoji & symbols options. – Timothy Mueller-Harder Aug 15 '18 at 17:05
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I don't know exactly when Apple changed the behaviour of the icon in the menu bar (somewhere between Yosemite and High Sierra?).

To recover a flag always telling you which is the keyboard in use, here is my workaround:

In:

System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources

add another keyboard mapping with the lower left + button.

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    In my El Capitan, there will be no icon at all in the menu bar if Show Input Menu is not checked, even if Show Viewers is checked. So both must be checked to have access to keyboard or character viewer via that route. – Tom Gewecke Feb 7 at 15:50

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