Version of 2017-04-06

Keyboard Drivers


I am the author of the Polish grammar that is available on the Net in Polish and English versions, as well as of the Polish course for English speakers. I have been receiving some pieces of e-mail from people having problems with writing Polish texts with their computers and that is why I have decided to make this Internet service.

Computers other than PC’s with Windows are not too popular, so I will not able to help e.g. owners of an Apple MacIntosh, rather. I can give only a little help to people who work under UNIX-like systems (e.g. Linux). The only advice that I can give them is a visit on pages on their computer / operation system, or a look through proper discussion lists.

In the second half of October 2008 the rate of Linux systems in the Polish Internet equalled 0.4% while MacOS X system – 0.3%. These were negligible rates.

There are however some things that I can do for you if your computer contains an operating system belonging to the family Windows 9x (namely Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium) or it is Windows XP or newer (Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10). If you work under Windows XP or newer, and you are searching for a better keyboard layout, you can also test the free program named The Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC).

In the system Windows 9x you waste your time searching for a program for making new keyboard layouts. Microsoft® has taken as obvious that the drivers delivered with the operating system do appease needs of users. The ideal solution would be if there existed drivers for each language and each of the keyboard types. It is not so, however. What is worse, the standard Polish keyboard driver is not adapted at all to the American keyboard QWERTY, commonly used in Poland. To tell the truth, there exists an alternative driver in the system (so called “programmer’s”), however it does not serve all the functions anyway, and what is more, it cannot be installed on some systems, especially in versions of the operating system that are other than Polish. Writing Polish, using the French keyboard AZERTY, is almost impossible taking into consideration that a system driver does not exist at all.


On the Net you can find programs for make-it-yourself editing of keyboard layouts, however you must pay money for these programs (and I do not know why it is so, but the MSKLC program for Windows nt. systems is available for free). There even exists a possibility of buying ready-to-use drivers, what is not acceptable for many persons, either.

Here are some places where one can find (not free) keyboard editors:

Writing in Polish

If your computer has Windows 9x system and it cannot produce Polish characters, if the way of the producing of them is uncomfortable for you or if you simply do not know how to write in Polish – here is what you should do. Warning: under Windows XP or newer all what you should do is similar even if not identical.

  1. Be sure that you can see correctly Polish letters: ąćęłńóśźż ĄĆĘŁŃÓŚŹŻ
  2. Click Start MenuSettingsControl PanelAdd/Remove Programs, toggle the view into Windows Installer. Find Multilingual Support – by it you should see the white box with the marking symbol. Adding support for all the available languages is not harmful and it takes not much space, and if you use the Internet, such internalizing will be useful for you, sooner than you could think. Remark: if the item is not marked yet, you will need the installation CD of your Windows. The installing of Multilingual Support is absolutely necessary and if you omit this item, you may even not continue to read.
  3. After installing Multilingual Support (if it has not been installed yet) you should restart your Windows.
  4. Check if now you can see a new application that should appear in your Systray (right bottom corner of your screen) – the square dark blue icon with a letter (or two letters) being the shortening of the language you use in your system. Click it using the right mouse button and you will see a menu. Choose “Properties” now (using the left mouse button). You are on the page named “Language”.
  5. If, for any reason, you cannot see the blue box in the Systray, use Start Menu – Settings – Control Panel – Keyboard and switch to the “Language” bookmark.
  6. Now click “Add” (the left button) and find “Polish”. A new item should appear in the list. Mark “Polish” with the left mouse button
  7. Anytime you will want to write Polish characters, you must use a font that contains “Central European” glyphs. Most of the standard Windows fonts (like Times New Roman, Courier New, Verdana or Arial) has them, so do not worry.
  8. You should also switch your application (a text editor, a mail program) into the proper codepage. On the Internet (www, mail), “proper” means ISO 8859-2 (or Central European ISO) – use it if you want to send a letter with Polish characters. Outlook Express or Outlook will let you do it easily but you must be careful about some other mail programs. Especially, Eudora is not a program for you if you want to write in Polish.
  9. Unfortunately, the Microsoft’s standard is not compatible with the Internet one. So, if you want to write a simple text in a Windows editor (Notepad, Wordpad, Works, Word), you will use another codepage called Windows-1250 or Central European Windows (you should use the proper language – Polish, or/and a font marked “CE” – depending on the application, its version etc.). It is important to choose the proper codepage (and the other features) or you will not be able to see Polish characters even if you choose a right font and if you use the right keyboard driver.
  10. Windows applications usually care of choosing of the proper standard (Windows – ISO), so you can even insert text safely from one program to another, with the use of the system clipboard. You will have problems however if you try to write an Internet page with Notepad in Polish, see below.

Polish programmer’s driver

See also: upgraded Polish programmer’s driver.

How to use the Polish (programmer’s) keyboard driver? For your tests, use Notepad or another simple text editor, not Word or another word processor. Switch your keyboard into Polish with the program visible as the blue box at the bottom right corner of your screen. And be careful if the symbol in the box is always Pl when you are writing. If it switches into another language by itself (that is why you should not use Word), try to change your testing editor.

You have “normal” (true Latin) characters on their positions like in US keyboard, i.e. QWERTYUIOP, ASDFGHJKL, ZXCVBNM. You can achieve Polish characters using the right Alt button (not the left one – press it and hold when pressing another button) for normal (lower) characters and the right Alt and Shift (at the same time) for capitals. Look at the table:

Press and hold and press
a c e l n o s x z
right Alt ą ć ę ł ń ó ś ź ż
right Alt + Shift Ą Ć Ę Ł Ń Ó Ś Ź Ż

According to the symbol on the key, the combination Shift + ` should give the tilde (~) but it functions as a so called dead key, used for receiving Polish markings. Writing ~a we will receive ą, instead of ~A we will receive Ą etc. To receive the symbol of the tilde (~), you should press ~ and space in turn. Moreover, the programmer’s driver lets us receive the symbol , as the combination right Alt + u.

Other drivers

The typist’s driver, even if it is installed on the system as default, is suitable for the now rarely met in Poland QWERTZ set. The huge majority of computers in Poland is provided with American keyboard with QWERTY set, what seems to be completely ignored by programmers of Microsoft®. The problem is that the out-of-date typist’s driver owns some useful features not available for users of the programmer’s driver. Among them there is the possibility of receiving non-Polish national characters – German, Czech or Hungarian ones, i.e. characters with “accents” or “umlauts”, like á, ä, ě, š etc.

I will not place here a detailed description of the typist’s driver, I will only say about some questions however. Comparing it to the standard keyboard (USA type), not only the position of the keys Z and Y is changed, but also of such markings like brackets, dot, comma etc. You can write some Polish letters immediately from the keyboard, the tilde also functions as a dead key. Some hard to remember combinations RightAlt + a digit give a number of other dead keys giving the possibility of receiving letters like á, ä, ě, š – for instance, to receive the Hungarian character ő, you need to press RightAlt + 0 (zero), and then o. Unfortunately the programmer’s driver, adjusted to the standard keyboard, has not such possibilities.

The driver Mocny Akcent (strong accent) is freely available to download from the above-mentioned Polska Strona Windowsowa. It is a driver for the standard QWERTY keyboard, having advanced features comparing to the system programmer’s driver which it replaces. As a dead key, just ` functions (and not only ~, or Shift + `), what gives you the possibility of writing using one hand (a driver for “these who are eating a sandwich”, as its author says).

The driver Mocny Akcent lets also insert such markings as the permille (‰) or the dots (…). By the way – Microsoft® supports and uses the coding standard of the Polish characters (Windows-1250) different than the ISO one used in the Internet, but thanks to it, in text documents, you can place such symbols like ®, ©, … or €. It is unfortunately impossible when using the ISO standard – in Internet documents, special means like 16-bit coding are necessary. It is impossible in text documents, so e.g. Linux users must forget existing the symbol of permille in simple texts.

Drivers written by the author of the site

An advanced driver for the QWERTY keyboard written by myself has functionality of the programmer’s driver and additional features of the typist’s driver joined together. Using it, you are able to write all the characters possible to be encoded in an 8-bit system. You can use the right Alt key and an extended system of dead keys.

For users of the AZERTY keyboard (the French one) I have prepared a driver offering the Polish characters and preserving nearly all of the features of the genuine French driver. The documentation is in the attached archive, in Polish and English.

If you need to write Cyrillic texts in Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Serbian, Macedonian or Bulgarian, and you have a standard QWERTY keyboard, try my universal keyboard layout for these languages. Inside you will find an instruction how to use the packet on Windows 98 and Windows XP systems.

  Windows 9x Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10
Polish AZERTY Driver with documentation Driver with documentation
Cyrillic QWERTY Driver with documentation

Installation under Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10:

  1. Download the proper driver, using one of the links above. Write the downloaded archive in a folder of your choice.
  2. Depack the archive (just double click the file), copy the content into another folder (ex. C:\Temp).
  3. Open the folder you have just depacked (ex. C:\Temp\kbdplw).
  4. Run setup.exe file (by double clicking it).
  5. Wait a couple of seconds for the message that everything is OK, close the message.
  6. Open Start Menu, then Control Panel (set the classic view), then Regional and Language Options. Click Languages, and next Details.
  7. In the window Text Services and Languages click Add, and then set the proper language and the proper keyboard map. For Cyrillic set the Russian language, otherwise set Polish. The names of the keyboard maps are Polski (Wielojęzyczny), Polski (AZERTY), Rosyjski (QWERTY) respectively. Click OK.
  8. If you have just installed a driver that is compatible with your keyboard, you do not need other drivers for a given language any longer, and you may remove them all. Click OK.
  9. Restart your computer; otherwise your new drivers may not work properly.
  10. In order to use a new driver, first open a program in which you want to use it (ex. MS Word). Make sure that the program is active (marked) by clicking inside. Next click on the language marker next to the SysTray, and choose the proper language. You may also use LAlt + Shift combination instead to change the language.

The drivers are delivered with no warranty. However, the author did all he was able to do in order to make them work properly.

Writing Polish WWW pages in Notepad

If you want to write Internet pages in the Polish language, you should use the ISO 8859-2 coding instead of Windows 1250. Unfortunately, system editors, like Notepad, do not support the ISO 8859-2 page at all. So you should use special WWW editors written in Polish (like Pajączek (Spider) or Zajączek (Hare)) that have the serving of the Internet standard built in. Forcing Notepad to serve the ISO 8859-2 is not impossible either, but it makes us to use:

  1. a special font (not Unicode),
  2. a special keyboard driver.

I will not give you the details (contact me if really interested). The installation is harmless for your computer, but the Icelandic keyboard driver is not accessible any longer after the installation. Both the font and the driver should be used only for WWW editing. Especially they are completely not needed when using MS Word, MS FrontPage or the above mentioned editors.

If you work under Windows 9x, have a QWERTY keyboard and edit WWW pages using Notepad or a similar plain text editor, download the packet. Contrary to the driver offered by Windows On Line, all the ISO 8859-2 characters are supported, so not only Polish but also Czech, Slovak etc. Details are in the included documentation. Remark: I suppose ISO drivers for QWERTZ or AZERTY keyboards will not be created unless I receive signals saying that they are really needed by somebody.

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Please visit my online Polish course. I also invite you on my site on the Polish grammar.