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Change Keyboard/System/App Language on Mac (Shortcut)

Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

Written by

Jenny Zeng
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

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Summary: This article from iBoysoft tells you how to change languages on Mac, including your system, app, and keyboard languages. You'll also learn the keyboard shortcut to switch languages on Mac and what to do if you can't change languages.

How to change language on Mac

While your Mac is initially configured to show the language of the country or region where it was bought, you have the option to select a different language for use. For instance, if you purchased your Mac in China but need to work in English, you can change the system language from Chinese to English. 

Additionally, you have the flexibility to select a specific language for individual apps. In this article, we'll detail the steps to change your system, app, and keyboard language on Mac.

How to change language on Mac? (System & App)

In macOS, you can change the language for your entire system or individual apps by going to the "Language & Region" section in System Settings if running macOS Ventura or later or System Preferences if running macOS Monterey or earlier. Here are the steps to follow.

How to change the system language on Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Settings/Preferences. 
    Open System Settings on Mac
  2. Search for "Language & Region" in the search bar and open it.
  3. Ensure the General tab is selected if running macOS Monterey ~ macOS Catalina.
  4. Drag the language you want to use as the primary language to the top, then reboot your Mac. (If the language isn't on the list, move on to the next step.) 
    How to change the language of your whole Mac
  5. Click the ( + ) button under "Preferred Languages." 
    How to add a language to your Mac
  6. Select the languages you want to add and click Add. 
     Select the language you want to change to
  7. Confirm if you want to use the added language as your system language and click "Restart Now" for the change to take effect.

 Note: The language list is separated by a line. Above the line are system languages fully supported by macOS and are displayed in menus, notifications, websites, and other areas. Below the line are languages not fully supported by macOS but may be supported by certain apps or websites.

How to change the app language on Mac without affecting the system language:

If you need to change the language for specific apps, such as HBO Max, Chrome, Safari, Excel, etc, take the following steps:

  1. Go to the Apple menu > System Settings/Preferences.
  2. Locate "Language & Region" by searching it in the search bar.
  3. Select the Apps tab on macOS Monterey or earlier; scroll down to the Applications section on macOS Ventura or later.
  4. Click the ( + ) button. 
    Where to change language for a specific app on Mac without changing the system language
  5. Choose an app and a language from the pop-up window. 
    Select the app and language you want to use for it
  6. Click Add > Relaunch Now.

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How to change language in Recovery Mode on Mac?

If you open macOS Recovery and find the language is not your preference, follow these steps to change it.

  1. Boot into Mac Recovery Mode.
  2. Click File in the menu bar.
  3. Select "Change Language." 
    How to change language in Mac Recovery Mode
  4. Then follow the instructions to switch the language.

How to change keyboard language on Mac?

To change between languages on Mac, you must first ensure the languages are added to your input sources. If not, proceed with the steps below:

  1. Open the Apple menu > System Settings/Preferences.
  2. Select "Keyboard" and locate "Input Sources."
  3. Tap the ( + ) button on macOS Monterey or earlier; click Edit and then tap the  ( + ) button on macOS Ventura or later. 
    Where to add input sources on Mac
  4. Select one or more input languages. 
    How to add a new language to the input source
  5. Click Add.

After that, you can switch between input languages in one of the following ways:

  • Use the Input menu: Click the Input menu icon in the menu bar to select a different language. (Need to enable "Show input menu in menu bar" in Keyboard > Input Sources.) 
    How to change keyboard language using the input menu
  • Use language-changing keyboard shortcuts: Press Control + Space to select the previous input source; press Control + Option + Space to select the next source in the input menu. (You can customize the shortcut to change keyboard language on Mac by going to Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Input Sources.) 
    Change keyboard language on Mac using keyboard shortcuts
  • Use the Caps Lock: Hit the Caps Lock key to change language on Mac. (Need to enable the option in Keyboard > Input Sources.) 
    How to change keyboard languages on Mac using the Caps Lock

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MacBook language change not working?

If language switching stops working on your Mac, you can fix it with one of the following tips:

  • Ensure you're using the correct keyboard shortcut to switch languages and that the shortcut is registered in System Preferences/Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • Ensure the language you want to change to is added to your input sources.
  • Temporarily switch to an alternative language-changing method. For instance, if you can't switch language using the Fn key, use Control + Space a few times, then retry the Fn key.
  • Open System Preferences/Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts, select the box next to "Select the previous input source," and deselect "Select next source in input menu." If it doesn't do the trick, deselect both, close the app, then reopen it and reselect both options.
  • Turn off Siri and reboot your Mac.
  • Run this command in Terminal to restart this background process:sudo killall -9 localAuthenticationRemoteService
  • Update macOS.
  • Restart your Mac.

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