Alan Wood’s Unicode Resources

Unicode and Multilingual File Conversion, Font and Keyboard Utilities for Macintosh OS X Computers

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Introduction

Mac OS X 10 did not originally include support for as many languages and scripts as Mac OS 9. Mac OS X 10.1 supported Central European, Cyrillic and Japanese, and Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese were made available as downloads. Mac OS X 10.2 introduced support for Arabic, Devanagari, Greek, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hebrew and Thai scripts. Mac OS X 10.3 introduced support for Armenian, Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics and Cherokee scripts.


Character Palette

Character Palette is a character map for Unicode 3.2 (including supplementary planes) that is supplied with Mac OS X 10.2. It is available on the Keyboard menu, not in the Applications folder. Character Palette can arrange characters by Unicode range, or display them in a table. It can show you a catalogue of the characters in a font, and a list of the fonts that contain a selected character. Characters can be inserted into another application by double-clicking them, or by dragging them, or by selecting them and then clicking the “Insert” button.

Screen shot of Character Palette

Yi Syllables from NSimSun-18030, in Character Palette under Mac OS X

Character Palette can also display Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese by radical or by category.


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CharView

CharView is a utility that allows you to select Unicode characters from a tabular display and insert them into a document. It is activated by clicking the “C” at the top left of the screen (or a small floating icon). The characters are displayed in a series of tables, with an option to restrict the characters to those in a particular Mac encoding. Pointing at a character enlarges it and displays its hexadecimal code points. The size of the window can be changed by dragging its bottom right corner, and this also zooms the characters.

Screen shot of CharView

Latin Extended-B and IPA characters from Gentium, in CharView under Mac OS X

There is an option to insert characters in HTML as numeric character references (e.g. ™).

CharView is produced by ALX Software and costs US $10 to register. More information and an unregistered version (in which not all characters can be selected) are available from the CharView Web page.


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Cyclone

Cyclone is a utility that can convert plain text files to and from a variety of Unicode, ISO, Windows, Macintosh and DOS encodings. It is basically a user interface for the Text Encoding Converter (TEC) that is part of the Mac OS X operating system.

Screen shot of Cyclone

For more information and to download a free copy, go to the Cyclone Web site. Cyclone is produced by Tomasz Kukielka.


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FontChecker

FontChecker is a utility that allows you to see all of the BMP Unicode characters in any font that works with Mac OS X, including OpenType fonts and the new Data Fork Suitcase fonts. For each character, the Unicode name and HTML, decimal, hexadecimal and UTF-8 codes are displayed. Characters can be dragged into documents in other programs, in either Unicode or UTF-8 encoding.

Screen shot of FontChecker

The Show Font Info... item on the Font menu shows you where the font file is located, and how many characters are present in each Unicode range. Double-click a range, and FontChecker will show you the characters.

Screen shot of FontChecker

FontChecker is shareware, and registration costs US $15.00. For more information and to download a copy, go to the WunderMoosen Mac OS X Products page.


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Font Explorer

Font Explorer is a utility that allows you to see all of the BMP Unicode characters in any font that works with Mac OS X, including OpenType fonts and the new Data Fork Suitcase fonts. Single characters and text strings can be copied and pasted into other applications.

Screen shot of Font Explorer

Font Explorer is produced by Alexandre Trottier and is freeware. For more information and to download a copy, go to the EasySoft Creations Web site.


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Language Kits

Apple does not supply Language Kits for Mac OS X 10, but for some purposes it requires Mac OS 9 Language Kits to be installed. These allow you to view and (in some cases) edit text in WorldScript-aware applications from one or more of the following language families: Arabic (Arabic or Persian), Cyrillic (Bulgarian, Russian and Ukrainian), Central European (Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak), Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

The Language Kits install fonts, when Mac OS X detects a compatible font from one of the Language Kits it activates a Script Bundle that adds a keyboard and/or extra fonts.


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PopChar X

PopChar X is a utility that allows you to select Unicode characters from a tabular display and insert them into a document. It does not show in the dock, and does not have its own title bar; it is activated by clicking the “P” at the top left of the screen. Clicking the “U” button switches PopChar X into Unicode mode. The characters are displayed in their Unicode ranges. Pointing at a character displays its decimal and hexadecimal code points.

Screen shot of PopChar X

Greek and Cyrillic characters from Lucida Grande, in PopChar X under Mac OS X

There is a menu to allow you to move to any of the supported Unicode ranges.

Screen shot of PopChar X

Unicode range menu in PopChar X, under Mac OS X

There is also an HTML mode, that inserts numeric character references (e.g. ™) or character entity references (e.g. Ø).

PopChar X is produced by Macility and costs US $29 for a single licence. More information and a demonstration version (in which not all characters can be selected) are available from the PopChar X Web page.


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Simredo Character Set

Simredo is a Unicode text editor that is written in Java and is intended for use with Windows and Linux, but also runs (with some limitations) under Mac OS X. It includes a Character Set utility (available on the Other Functions menu) that has some cosmetic problems with Mac OS X, but that can display the characters in any font, including Open Type (*.otf) and Data Fork Suitcase (*.dfont) fonts.

Screen shot of Simredo

Characters from Lucida Grande Data Fork Suitcase font, in Simredo under Mac OS X

The display is divided into 256 pages, each showing 256 positions. The < and > buttons move the display by one page (256 characters); the << and >> buttons move the display by 16 pages (4096 characters).

More information about Simredo and a free download are available from the Simredo 3.3 - Java Unicode Editor Web site.


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Ukelele

Ukelele provides a graphical interface for creating or modifying Unicode keyboard layout files for Mac OS X 10.2 onwards. It allows you to start from scratch, or to modify an existing keyboard. Characters can be dragged from the Character Palette, or from other programs that can display the characters that you want to use.

Screen shot of Ukelele

Dragging a Deseret character from the Character Palette to a keyboard layout

More information about Ukelele and a free download are available from the Ukelele — Mac OS X Keyboard Layout Editor Web page.


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UnicodeChecker

UnicodeChecker is a utility that provides information about all of the Unicode characters, including the supplementary planes and those characters introduced in version 4. It scans all of the available fonts, and displays the characters for which it finds suitable glyphs. You can search for a character by its name or by its decimal or hexadecimal code point. You can select a Unicode range to display. Characters can be copied or dragged into other applications. You cannot select a font, or view the characters in a particular font.

Screen shot of UnicodeChecker

Characters from the Unicode Gothic range

UnicodeChecker also allows you to identify a character by copying it from another application, pasting it into the Glyph window and pressing Enter.

UnicodeChecker is available for free download from the earthlingsoft Web site.


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Unicode Font Info

Unicode Font Info is a character viewer that can show any of the characters in the Unicode BMP for any font that is installed and available to Mac OS X.

Screen shot of Unicode Font Info

Cyrillic characters from Lucida Grande, displayed by Unicode Font Info

The display is divided into 256 pages, each showing 256 positions. From the Navigation window, you can jump to a particular Unicode range or to the next page that contains a character. Characters can be copied from the small Codes window, and pasted into other applications.

Unicode Font Info is produced by Andrew Thompson. More information and a free download are available from the Lord Pixel's Unicode Font Info Web page.


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Unicode Keyboards

Unicode Keyboards for Mac is a Web page that generates Unicode-compatible keyboard layout files for Mac OS X 10 (and Mac OS 9). The page gives instructions on the format of the source text that has to be typed or pasted into a text box. Clicking the “Create Resource” button then generates a file that is downloaded to your Mac.

Screen shot of Unicode Keyboards

The Web page includes instructions for installing the keyboard layout file.

Unicode Keyboards for Mac is produced by Alex Eulenberg.



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Copyright © 2001–2004 Alan Wood

Created 26th December 2001   Last updated 23rd December 2004

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