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Whether you've grown up in a multilingual environment or are eagerly pouncing your way through lessons to become a polyglot, there's a good chance you want to be able to communicate with people by text in the languages you know. While we don't teach lessons on using input methods, we can tell you how to switch between input methods if you own a great Chromebook.

How to get to the language settings

If you're turning your Chromebook on for the first time, you'll get a first crack at setting up your system language at the very beginning of the setup process. You can only change your input languages — the languages you type with on your keyboard — after setup.

  1. Head to the system settings by selecting the time from the right-hand side of the shelf.
  2. Hit the cog icon in the top-right corner of the Quick Settings panel.
  3. Along the section headers list on the left, expand the Advanced section and select Languages and inputs.
  4. Select Inputs and keyboards.

Adding or deleting an input method

A list of input methods users can add to ChromeOS.

The key section you'll be dealing with is the one labeled Input methods. To add a language:

  1. Select the button reading + Add Input Methods.
  2. In the pop-up window, you can either type in the search field or scroll down the full list of available input methods and check as many boxes as you'd like to include those inputs.
  3. Select Add.
  4. To delete an input method, tap the X at the far-right side of a listed method.

The new methods should now appear in the section. Most languages may come with additional settings that you can tailor as indicated by the presence of a right-facing triangle in the listing — tapping on the triangle will bring you to those settings. There may be toggles that concern input behaviors specifically when you're using ChromeOS's virtual keyboard or a physical keyboard. English (US), for example, has toggles for allowing autocorrect when using a physical keyboard and for enabling glide typing on the virtual keyboard. Each method will have its own variables, so you'll want to seek a language-specific guide for further help if you need it.

Switching between input methods

The shelf-based input method switcher interface on ChromeOS.

Returning to the top of the Language and inputs settings screen, there's a toggle that allows ChromeOS to Show input options in the shelf. Flipping that switch will manifest a new button on your shelf displaying the current input method in use. Selecting that button opens a list of your selected input methods. To use another method, all you have to do is select it from the list. ChromeOS also provides two handy keyboard shortcuts that make switching between input methods so much quicker:

  • Ctrl + Space lets you switch to your last used input method, and it's great if you only have two methods that you use most of the time.
  • Ctrl + Shift + Space selects the next input method on your list. This shortcut is preferable if you have three or more commonly used methods.

Unfortunately, you can't edit the rather arbitrary order in which ChromeOS lists these methods, so get your carpal muscle memory tuned up.

Other input method settings

Below the Input methods section is an assortment of spell check and grammar check settings that you can customize.

  • There's an overarching Spelling and grammar check toggle. ChromeOS mentions that its grammar check feature is only available for English.
  • The Customize spell check sub-settings lets you add words to a custom dictionary that the spell check feature recognizes and won't mark. To do that:
    1. Select the triangle at the far right of the listing.
    2. Type in a word that you do not want to be checked in the text field.
    3. Select Add word.
    4. To delete a custom entry, select the X at the far right of the listing.
  • Spell check languages lets you select which of your input languages will be subject to spell check. You can do that by selecting + Add languages or the X on the listed languages.

All of these settings are synced to your account and carried along to other Chromebooks if you're moving to a new one or just happen to use multiple devices. Keep in mind that these input method settings are separate from your system language settings — the ones that dictate how ChromeOS displays text to you across its platform. We have a guide that takes a wider approach to the operating system's full suite of settings if you're looking for a helping hand there.