SemicodeUS – a Unicode Keyboard Driver for MacOS X

SemicodeUS is a Unicode keyboard layout for MacOS X, designed for Computers with a U.S. Keyboard (QWERTY layout). It is optimized for the transcription of Semitic texts, with the focus on Arabic, especially Palestinian Arabic. To install it, drag the files "SemicodeUS.keylayout" and "SemicodeUS.icns" in the folder Macintosh HD > Library > Keyboard Layouts and restart the computer. Next, open the International pane of System Preferences, and select the Input tab. Find far down the list SemicodeUS marked with a Palestinian flag, and click the checkbox so that it is checked. Now, SemicodeUS should appear in the Input menu. You should be able to select it and use it from this point.

All applications, that support Unicode can make use of SemicodeUS. For writing texts the word processors NisusWriter Pro and Mellel are most recommended. To get access to all glyphs one needs a Unicode font, I personally prefer "Charis SIL" from the Summer Institute of Language (SIL), which can be downloaded free of charge at

The first figure below shows you the keystrokes, when SemicodeUS is selected in the Input menu. "N" stands for Normal (no modifier key down), "S" for Shift, "O" for Option and "SO" for Shift and Option modifier together pressed. Dead keys are marked in red color. To use a dead key, first press it, afterwards the sign you want to combine with the dead key. The second figure gives you a list of all possible dead key combinations.

I designed SemicodeUS with the ingenious and free program Ukelele by John Brownie (SIL). I provide it here for everyone who wants to write Semitic texts in Unicode under MacOS X. Of course, I can give no guarantees for the proper operation or safety of the keyboard driver. Use it at your own risk.

Download SemicodeUS with instructions

SemicodeUS is designed for the American keyboard (QWERTY-Layout). If you are using a German keyboard (QWERTZ-Layout) download the German driver Semicode.

It is not allowed to make the keyboard drivers available in any electronic publication other than this site. Links on this page are of course permitted.




In the pre-Unicode-times I have designed numerous fonts for the scientific transcription. All of these fonts are now obsolete and I do not recommend their use. Who still needs them will find them here.


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Latest Revision: 2013-04-18
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