Wondering how to activate the phonetic Russian Cyrillic keyboard on a Windows laptop or a Mac? Why come on in…

As a learner of Russian, activating the phonetic (also known as ‘homophonic’) Russian Cyrillic keyboard on your Windows laptop or Mac will save you a lot of frustration in the long-run, allowing you to remap your keyboard so that keystrokes whilst the Russian keyboard is toggled on, will correspond with keys of the equivalent phoneme (a unit of sound) in English.

I am Windows user !

I am a Mac user !

Windows users

In order to activate the phonetic Russian Cyrillic keyboard on a Windows laptop, follow the steps below, noting that some steps may vary slightly depending on your laptop:

Step 1: Click the Start button and select the settings gear icon.

Step 2: Click Time & Language and on the next screen Language.

Step 3: Perform a search for Russian and install Russian – Русский as a new language.

Step 4: Once you can see that a new Russian language package has been installed, click Options.

Step 5: A page with the heading Language options: Russian will appear and you should click Add a keyboard, and choose Russian – Mnemonic. Once you have added the keyboard, to switch between your primary keyboard and the Russian phonetic keyboard, simply hold down the Windows key and click the spacebar.

Note that You can load the on-screen keyboard if you have any difficulties determining the correct key or combination of keys for a particular Russian character; simply click the Start key, type Keyboard and you will find an option to make it appear on the screen.

Some Russian character shortcuts of note are listed below:

Russian letter

Latin keyboard shortcut












w or sh







q or ja



A non-Windows Russian phonetic keyboard featuring stressed vowels was developed by the Slavic Department at the University of Kansas and is available here .

In order to activate the phonetic Russian Cyrillic keyboard on a Mac laptop, follow the steps below:

Mac users

Step 1: Select the Apple logo at the top left-hand corner of your Mac and click System Preferences.

Step 2: In the second row of items in the next screen which appears, click Keyboard.

Step 3: Enter Russian in the search field, click Russian – Phonetic and then the Add button at the bottom right-hand corner.

Step 4: A Russian phonetic keyboard should now appear in the panel to your left. Be sure to tick Show Input menu in menu bar as this will allow you to toggle between keyboards manually from the menu at the top of your Mac. For ease of accessibility, you may also configure the Caps Lock key to switch between keyboards.

Step 5: Click the flag at the top right-hand corner of your Mac in order to check that the keyboard was added as intended. Clicking Show keyboard viewer will allow you to clarify precisely which keys correspond to various Russian letters.

And that’s it – enjoy your new Russian keyboard set!

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