I would like to be able to switch between my default US English keyboard to an Arabic one, as I would like to learn some Arabic. I know that going to System Settings → Regional Settings → Translations and choosing العربية as my default language will cause everything that can be translated to be translated to Arabic when I next log into KDE Plasma 5.

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I also know that this causes the Plasma panel to be reversed (so that its Left→Right orientation to be switched to a Right→Left one). What I want is for nothing to be translated or reversed just for my keyboard to be temporarily switched to an Arabic one (but easily switchable back to my default US English one), so that I can type in Arabic.

If relevant (like if your answer involves installing extra software) I am using Arch Linux.


In KDE5 Plasma go to System Settings and select Hardware / Input devices. Then select Keyboard / Layouts. Add Arabic Buckwalter (this layout is easy for non-Arabic speaking people). At that screen you can also adjust the keyboard shortcuts and you can activate an indicator on the panel. To add another language you could have a problem because that option is not always available (your screenshot shows that problem). In that case install the gnome-language-selector. Tip: to train yourself to this keyboard you could install KLettres Hardware / Input devices in System Settings Keyboard / Layouts in System Settings

  • +1 This answer is much better than the accepted one! I frequently switch between languages through a shortcut. I first installed language support from Discover software center. Then the Configure layouts button appeared. – r.beigi Sep 28 '18 at 15:18
  • I'm having a problem with this. Whenever I click outside an input field, the keyboard layout changes automatically to the default. What do I have to do so that the keyboard layout changes only when I press the hot key combination? – starseed_trooper Apr 11 at 18:28
  • The option 'switching policy' as you can see on the screenshot in the central part, allows to change that. You could use 'Global'. – user906489 Apr 12 at 16:21

I have found an answer, namely running:

sudo setxkbmap -layout ara

changes my keyboard to an Arabic one. Likewise running:

sudo setxkbmap -layout us

switches it back to a US English keyboard. Further layouts can be found in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/.

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