Windows: keyboard layout has changed spontaneously

Sep 13, 2010 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Technology

keyboard I’ve recently noticed that the keyboard layout on my Windows XP PCs is spontaneously changing from UK to US. I suspect that this is linked to a piece of software I use called Input Director (which allows you to control several PCs/monitors from one keyboard/mouse).

Whatever the cause, from time to time my UK keyboard starts operating in US mode (so, for example, the following symbols are all swapped around: ", ', #, £). This is inconvenient, to say the least.

The logical place to look would be in Regional Settings/Languages, within the Control Panel. Nothing had changed there however: UK was the only layout showing as installed. Advanced Text Services were switched off and all the relevant keyboard shortcuts were disabled.

In my search for a solution, I came across this page, which describes a similar situation. Within the comments on that page, one contributor has posted:

Try holding ‘alt’ and pressing ‘shift’ three times.
alt+shift+shift+shift

The mysterious Jim doesn’t explain why this works – and I have yet to find any documentation, but, sure enough, Alt-Shift-Shift-Shift does indeed reset the keyboard layout back to UK. Further repetitions of the keyboard combo have no other effect, so this is a reset rather than a toggle.

Office has a mind of its own

Microsoft Office products can exhibit a similar behaviour. If you’re finding that some MS Office product is using the wrong keyboard map (but other programs are fine), try this: First click on the Office program, somewhere you can enter text. Then press the left shift and alt keys together. You should be returned to your default keyboard mapping.

You can actually remove the unwanted keyboard layout from Office – note this is separately managed from the Windows keyboard layout, for some reason. In one of the Office programs (for 2010 onwards), click File -> Options -> Language. If you see more than one “Editing Language” in the list, select any you don’t want and click “Remove”.

Keyboard image copyright © yum9me, licensed under Creative Commons. Used with permission.

7 Comments + Add Comment

  • Brilliant, been driving me mad and this worked straight away. Thanks

    • I’m pleased to hear that. Thanks for the feedback, Graham.

  • Thankyou! That was so weird, I thought it was just a website did it for some reason at first then realised everything was US layout, it seems a bit weird to have a shortcut like that though?!

    • Glad it helped, Josh!

  • Same problem happened months ago and not a single web tip resolved the prob and it was driving me nuts. But I got to your website and Hey, Presto! Back to normal. Many thanks for sharing the info.

    • You’re very welcome. I had a hard time chasing down various solutions myself, which is why I collected them all here!

  • Thanks Rob – and “mysterious Jim” – this was driving me mental!

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