For decades, Apple relied on a country flag as the primary indicator of the keyboard layout you selected in macOS for languages associated with a single country. In the latest versions of macOS, select keyboards in System Preferences > Keyboards > Input Sources by clicking the plus sign (+) and browsing or searching for the layout you need.
The flags helped some of us recognize and confirm the layout we wanted when multiple choices for a language were available, such as a French layout used in France versus a French layout used in Canada. used. Many entries used letters or logograms as their symbol, like Arabic, when no country association made sense.
In macOS 12.4 Monterey, Apple removed the flags and put up the duller, but perhaps more neutral and readable two-letter international country codes where it previously used flags. Now all items in Input Sources have letters, sometimes with an elaboration (such as VI above TX to indicate Vietnamese in Telex input format), rather than a mix.
(A handy tip: if you check “Show input menu in menu bar” to show keyboard options in the Input Sources view of the keyboard preference pane, you can then select Show input source name from the input menu to show details beyond the country code or abbreviation. such as “GB British” for the British English keyboard.)
While Apple has not disclosed its rationale, it may be due to the increasingly fraught nature of displaying flags in a world with many active territorial disputes, border wars and separatist movements, some of which come with competing flags, new flags or flags that are can provoke violence through their use.
Take the United Kingdom, which is more fully “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”, a single nation made up of four parts: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The UK has a single flag for the country which is used internationally, but historical and modern flags for England, Scotland and Wales have been incorporated into Unicode and used in everyday life, but Northern Ireland has none for intensely political reasons. You see the problem.
More pragmatically, the group that provides unified character representation standards for scripts (the letters that make up languages), symbols, Emoji, and more, the Unicode Consortium, has decided to stop approving new flag emoji. That means each future flag must be individually signed and supported by Apple and not directly interchangeable with other platforms. (In fact, Windows has never included drawings of flags in its Emoji sets.) It also lets the consortium know about political discussions, leaving those to other international bodies.
However, if you prefer flags over letter codes, you can restore them with inexpensive tools released by developers:
Keyboard Switcheroo: For $1.99, this app creates a new input selection menu that uses country flags, color-coded two-letter country codes, or an image you select.
Colorful Input Menu Flags: This $0.99 competitive app focuses on flags and lets you choose from variants for a language.
Ask Mac 911
We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions, along with answers and links to columns: read our super frequently asked questions to see if your question is there. If not, we are always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to mac911@AppSixty.com, including screenshots where appropriate and if you’d like to use your full name. Not every question is answered; we do not respond to email and cannot provide direct advice to solve problems.