I'm currently using the virtual IPA keyboard on TypeIt, but it takes forever. Is there an easy way to type IPA? I've found this list of Unicode keyboards on SIL.org but I'm not too sure how to evaluate their efficacy. I'm running off Windows if that matters.

  • what do you type in? word? With some programs there are some workarounds, like defining auto conversion (which you can do in word).
    – MGN
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 0:22
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    One could use LateX, just as we do in maths, and type command sequences that will compile to IPA later. But then you have to type the whole document in this, and many people find this hard to learn. But it's quite superior, also for multilingual documents, diagrams etc. Look into Latex (it's free, and also available on Windows). Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:12
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    I agree with Henno. tipa is quite convenient. Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 3:20
  • I use x-sampa input on Linux. I type the x-sampa symbols on my keyboard, and they're converted to IPA on-the-fly. I'm sure similar ones must exist to other operating systems. Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 11:42
  • Here's an IPA AutoHotkey script I found and adapted. Download and run with AutoHotkey installed. The way it works: Press Win + F to enter IPA mode. Now, each key on your keyboard accesses some IPA characters, and repeated pressing cycles through them. Hit space to accept. For instance, Win+F then e lets me access the following set: ə ɚ ɵ ɘ while Win+A lets me access the following set: ɑ æ ɐ ɑ̃ I can easily type almost anything this way. If you know any AHK you could probably add composition to it. Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 14:16

10 Answers 10


The SIL keyboards that you linked to are indeed the best of breed. Like any input method for typing outside of ASCII, it takes an investment of time to learn the keystroke sequences, but in my opinion it is far more efficient than websites with soft keyboards when you need to enter a lot of IPA. I have used them on both Linux and Windows. To the operating system, it looks like any other IME for entering Chinese characters, Devanagari script, etc., so you access it through the "language bar" on Windows and corresponding language-switcher-type interfaces on other platforms. On Linux at least, there are a few applications where the keyboard doesn't work (e.g., Atom text editor; I think the problem is with Atom and not the IPA keyboard but I haven't tried to debug the issue).

If you just want a better web-based soft keyboard, I think Richard Ishida's is amazing, others I work with prefer Weston Ruter's because it resembles the official IPA chart. There is also an Android app though it is described as a "proof of concept" and I haven't personally tested it very thoroughly.

  • I must disagree with "best of breed." I have long used on Mac "Unicode Hex Input" where I hold down Alt while entering the Unicode value in hexadecimal. It is just as easy to remember four hex digits as the complicated key-sequences of the other. But the SIL keyboard highjacks keyboard shortcuts such as print. But I now use something better, mentioned in my answer.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 19:47
  • I just use a X-SAMPA input method on Linux. I find X-SAMPA to be easy to learn and mnemonic, and then the input method converts it to proper IPA. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 8:24
  • You can also try out the SIL IPA keyboard at Keyman.com without needing to install it. Keyman is owned by SIL. keyman.com/keyboards/sil_ipa
    – Merchako
    Commented Jan 22 at 23:21

When you think about it, easily typing the entirety of IPA is a tall order. Just look for example at the IPA vowel diagram, and try to write down yourself which sequences of keys should give which output, or do the same for all of the diacritics. On the other hand, I'd think that most people need most of IPA very rarely, but use a subset of it constantly. For example if you are writing a paper on English phonology, you'll need <ɪ> to be easily typable, but you can just copy-paste <ɤ> if you need it. (Of course, if your paper is on, say, Estonian, you'll want exactly the opposite.)

A working solution for this kind of problem is to create your own custom keyboard layout via the Microsoft's free keyboard layout creator. The program is quite powerful, and very easy to use, and making something appropriate in it won't take long, depending on how much of IPA you want available on key press. Of course, "do it yourself" is not the easiest solution, but the plus is that it will be tailored exactly to your needs, and you can change it whenever you want. And as I said, considering how different the needs of different IPA users are, a single solution won't be able to satisfy everyone's needs. Another advantage of a custom keyboard layout is that you can use it in any text editor: it doesn't require using a special program or a specific webpage, and you can easily switch between different keyboard layouts by hotkeys.

  • I think the most natural interface for me would be if it was implemented with an IME, similar to inputting pinyin->Chinese. I played around with the keyboard layout editor and I don't think that it's capable of doing that sadly. I've settled on an SIL keyboard, but there's such a large learning curve I'm going to need to keep the manual open for a little while to look things up. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 20:35
  • Yes, I have no experiences with IME for Hanzi and such, but I'm sure they're more powerful than this, which is just the classic dead keys + control keys combo, so it's not appropriate for the entire IPA, where drop-down menus you mention in another comment seem to me the only viable choice. This is appropriate for someone who needs IPA or alternatives regularly only for a fixed and not too huge set of languages.
    – user54748
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 23:56

There is a difficult way, and also a quick and easy way, to use the website mentioned by the Original Poster in their question, IPA TYPEIT:

If you use the cursor to manually click on the letters on the on-screen keyboard, it takes ages and is mentally exhausting as well as morally tedious.

However, if you look at the page that the link takes you to, you will see that the on-screen keyboard is broken into sections. On the left of each section there is a symbol in orange that relates very simply and intuitively to a symbol on your physical keyboard. In order to get any of the IPA symbols from that section, instead of moving the cursor to the correct symbol on the screen, just use your manual keyboard. Press ALT and then keep tapping the key shown in the orange circle until the desired IPA symbol pops up. Once you get used to this, it really is quite fast and I find it much easier than any of the other methods that I know of.


No, there is no good way. See the answer and comments to my complaint here: feature request.


This has been preying on my mind, and I have the beginnings of a design proposal for how to type in IPA. The basic idea is that you type in a phonetic character by typing an ordinary lower case character followed by zero or more uppercase characters. This capitalizes (so to speak) on the fact that it is rare in ordinary spelling that you would want to have a literal interpretation of "tI", for example, so it is feasible to treat this as a palatalized "t". And "tH" is an aspirated "t", "aN" is a nasalized "a", and so on.

When you're typing things in interactively, you don't necessarily have to know everything about the system of interpretation, because you can see whether the result of your typing is giving you the phonetic script that you intended. And if it isn't what you want, you can backspace over what you typed and try something else.

There should be a fallback that lets you type in a character with no obvious interpretation but which you can footnote to say what you want about the sound.

  • a fine idea, +1. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 15:27
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    To add onto this, (and I mentioned this on another answer) I think it would also be helpful if it showed you options in parallel to your keystrokes similar to a Chinese or Japanese IME keyboard. For example, if you pressed "a" it would give you the options of: { 1. æ 2. ɑ 3. ɒ 4. ɐ }, if you press 1,2,3, or 4 it will select the corresponding glyph, and if you press any other key it will leave it as just <a>, allowing natural typing. This creates a natural mapping between the knowledge we already have of QUERTY keyboards and of IPA symbols, so it would not have a large learning curve. Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 20:43
  • @RECURSIVEFARTS Perhaps see my comments about IPA TYPEIT in my answer below. Might be helpful. Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 14:35

If you already know X-SAMPA, you could use my X-SAMPA ↔ IPA Converter. There, you can type in X-SAMPA, then convert to IPA.

For example, if you type %int@"n{S@n@5 f@"nEtIk "{lf@%bEt, and press >>, it yields ˌintəˈnæʃənəɫ fəˈnɛtɪk ˈælfəˌbɛt.


You may find Eckher IPA Keyboard useful.

  • It is not useful, because it does not allow you to type IPA, it allows you to access a fixed subset of IPA as employed in some English transcription practices.
    – user6726
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 23:35

I find it hard to believe the SIL keyboard is the best thing out there. Although I don't use Windows much, it has a feature where you can hold Alt and type the Unicode number on the keypad. I heard you have to do it in octal, though, which is stupid.

I use Unicode Hex Input on Mac which is similar. I just have an IPA chart nearby with all the Unicode numbers. The ones I've done several times I no longer have to look up anymore.

IPA Palette (https://www.blugs.com/IPA/) is also pretty easy to use. I find it hard to believe someone hasn't done something similar for the Windows world. If not, go to his site, download his GPL source, and port it.

For IOS (iPhone/iPad), you can add keyboards. One of them takes advantage of the IOS hold/drag to make it easy to pick characters from similar ones in the Latin alphabet. I suspect Android has something similar.

Yes, I've tried the SIL "IPA Unicode 6.2(v1.5) MAC" and it's definitely harder to use than either of the above. (Not to mention that it hijacks some of my favorite keyboard shortcuts!)


An alternative to the "language keyboard" approach is the compose-key approach, exemplified by the inexpensive program "Accent Composer" (which I have used for decades), and also available in a number of open source versions for Windows, listed here. Accent Composer and AllChars use a "hotkey" (I don't know the other 3, I assume they are the same) e.g. F12 or right-ctrl (you pick) then a two-key sequence, and it returns whatever in in the table for that letter pair. For example, you can assign eh to ɛ, o/ to ø, 9. to ʕ and so on. Or you can assign 99 to ʕ – you can pick your ow mnemonics. The minor downside is that you have to set up a translation table for IPA (unless someone has cooked up an IPA translation table). My main rule is, if I have to look a character up on Character Map more than 5 times, I will just add a mnemonic for Accent Composer.

In the set of 4 open source programs, the one called WinCompose apparently supports sequences of ? any length, at least more than 2, which potentially allows better mnemonics.


Here is an easy way to type IPA English characters easily. Watch this video: Type IPA English easily

  • The video review seems to be poorly recorded and looks way too excessive comparing to a single link. Please consider directly referencing the toolset/application, not the video telling how good it is. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 8:56

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