I was reading a great answer to how you can extend the list of characters Lion shows you when hold down a key for a few seconds. The in answer he says:

choose the keyboard file relevant to your locale if you are using a different keyboard layout

In /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/ I see quite a few files. I'm not sure how to figure out which one, precisely, I need to edit to make the changes laid out in that program. I'm using an english keyboard, but I'm in Canada. To the best of my knowledge though I'm not doing anything Canada-specific with my keyboard layout. It's a plain, english, Apple keyboard -- the kind you'd buy in any Apple Store in the United States.

The plist file that applies to me could be any of:


How do I figure out which specific keyboard plist profile is the one I'm using?

  • Note that your "keyboard layout" does not have any necessary connection with your hardware keyboard. It is determined independently by system prefs/language & text/input sources. – Tom Gewecke Apr 27 '12 at 18:59

It's determined by the list in the "Language & Text" preference pane's Language tab.

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The plist file that is chosen is the one that matches with the language in the list that is highest to the top that has a match.

For example: if your list shows "Canadian English, UK English, Spanish, …", Keyboard-en_CA.plist will be chosen, as it best matches Canadian English. If the list is "Português, Suomi, English, …", Keyboard-en.plist will be chosen, as it best matches English, which is the language closest to the top that is available. (The last is assuming that Portuguese and Finnish plists aren't available.) If there are no languages in the list that have plists present, the Keyboard_default.plist would likely be chosen.

  • Cool. So top of my list in English, which means Keyboard-en.plist. Thanks! – Ian C. Apr 27 '12 at 14:45
  • @CajunLuke Have you had a chance to test this much? I don't think it is really correct. If I put French at the top of the Language list and change my OS language to French, and use the US layout, my modified keyboard-en.plist is used, not the unmodified one for keyboard-fr. – Tom Gewecke Apr 27 '12 at 19:06

I'd like to add that you can change the entire layout (or key-mappings) of your physical keyboard in software using the Input Sources tab in the Language & Text preference pane.

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This enables you to type various characters and diacriticals pertinent to different languages according to the method used in those languages and countries.

You can change keyboard layouts independently of the Language choice, which determines the language of your user interface, menus, dialog boxes and help files.

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