Writing in Hebrew on the Mac

About Sarah Blake LaRose

Sarah Blake LaRose is a freelance writer and a professor of Biblical Hebrew at Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. She is one of three blind academic scholars who received the Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 2016 in recognition of innovative work in the field of access to biblical language texts and tools for people who are blind.

Note: If you are looking for instructions for the PC, please visit the PC page

Note: these instructions assume that you are using OS 10.2 or later. For best results with Voiceover and braille, I recommend using Yosemite or a later release.

For my Hebrew course, I recommend that students install the SBL Hebrew-SIL keyboard available for the Mac. This keyboard includes support for symbols related to Biblical Hebrew which are not included in the keyboards that are native to the Mac. My students tried other keyboards and were able to produce Hebrew text correctly. However, this is the only one that I have validated.

To type Hebrew on the Mac once you have installed this keyboard, please use the keyboard layout as follows:

Alphabet

letter name Symbol Key Assignment Transliteration Braille Symbol
aleph א > 1
bet ב b v 12
gimel ג g g 1245
dalet ד d d 145
he ה h h 125
vav ו w v 2456
zayin ז z z 1356
het x ch 1346
tet ט v t 2345
yod y y 245
kaf כ k ch 16
lamed ל l l 123
mem מ m m 134
nun נ n n 1345
samek ס s s 234
ayin ע < ! 1246
pe פ p f 124
tsade צ c ts 2346
qof ק q q 12345
resh ר r r 1235
sin שׂ f s 156
shin שׁ j sh 146
taw ת t t 1456

The final forms of letters are formed by typing shift plus the letter, e.g. shift+p for final pe.

Vowels and other Symbols

Note: Vowels are shown with a bet in this table. Accent marks are shown with a bet and a vowel.

Symbol Name Symbol Key Assignment Transliteration Braille Symbol
qamets בָ shift+a a 126
tsere בֵ shift+e e 34
holem בֹ o or shift+o o 135
holem vav בוֹ w+shift+o o 246
shuruq בוּ w+= u 346
patach בַ a a 14
seghol בֶ e e 15
hireq בִ i i 24
qubuts בֻ u u 136
sheva בְ ; ‘ or e 3
hateph qamets בֳ opt+shift+o a 345
hateph patach בֲ opt+shift+a a 25
hateph seghol בֱ opt+shift+e e 26
daghesh בּ = See pronunciation lesson. 5
maqqeph ־ dash 36
accent בָ֫ opt+shift+backslash indicates stress on the word 46 135
methegh בָֽ opt+1 following the letter   4

If you are using a Mac, please know that Hebrew is not supported in all applications. In unsupported applications, Hebrew may display with characters out of order, in reverse, or be mishandled in other ways even if you have a Hebrew font installed. There are several options for composing Hebrew documents on the Mac. These include TextEdit, OpenOffice, Pages, and a fully featured word processor called Mellel which is designed specifically for editing with right-to-left languages. Mellel does have some accessibility problems. Please see Eric Harvey’s review.

To display Hebrew properly on the Web with a Mac, please use Firefox. You can also display and compose Hebrew in email, in Google apps, in Skype chat, and (should you have a need) in PowerPoint.

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