Using Alt to Switch Language Keyboards

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 25, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Shosh is using Word on a Windows 10 system. He has two languages installed, with one keyboard for each. He configured the language bar settings so that he could toggle between keyboards by using Left Shift+Alt. This works great everywhere except in Word where, instead of switching keyboards, Shosh sees the shortcut keys on the ribbon. He wonders how he can make keyboard switching work the way he expects it to work in Word.

The ribbon shortcut keys are hard-wired into Word to respond to the pressing of the Alt key. There is no way to change this behavior in Word, and this shortcut key is relied upon by many Word users—particularly those who cannot or prefer not to use the mouse—to access ribbon commands. You should also note that the Alt key is used for this same purpose in other Office applications, as well.

There are two general approaches you can use. First, if you are dead set on using the Left Shift+Alt combination, you should change the order in which you press the keys. In other words, press Alt+Left Shift instead. When you press the Alt key first, just before pressing Left Shift, then it works just fine in Word for keyboard switching. (You'll see the ribbon shortcut keys displayed, but you can still switch keyboards by following up the Alt with the Left Shift.)

The other approach involves rethinking the toggle shortcut you use. Many WordTips subscribers report having great success (and absolutely no conflicts) by configuring the toggle key to be something different, such as Windows+Spacebar or Left Shift+Ctrl. The idea would be to find a comfortable keyboard combination that doesn't involve the use of the Alt key.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9145) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 3 + 7?

2021-03-23 05:46:12


Thanks a lot!!! It drived me crazy! :)

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