Different Keyboards for
Different Countries

Learn more about the different keyboard layouts

People in different countries use different keyboards. Why? Partly because they speak different languages and therefore use different letters or characters (such as the German ß, but also the accents widely used in various Latin languages) or have specific letter combinations that are frequent. Partly also, because of cultural influences from neighbouring countries or regions. For example, in France an Azerty keyboard is used, whereas in the French speaking parts of Canada, Qwerty is the default, without doubt because of the influence of the other parts of Canada and the United States. 

To understand the differences so that you choose the right one for your laptop, we detail the most widely used keyboards in Europe. Every kayboard has its country-specific variant, but these differences are generally minor, and are generally interchangeable for English speakers. 

Qwerty

The Qwerty keyboard was developed in the United States at the end of the 19th century and has been consistently used since, especially in the English speaking world. It has survived all the technological development and has hardly changed throughout time. In the time that the world moved from antique typewriters via personal computers to the most modern smartphones, one thing stayed the same: Its Qwerty keyboard.

The Qwerty layout is not only used in the English speaking world, but also in numerous other countries such as The Netherlands, Spain and Italy. To adapt to the different languages, minor changes are often made to the keyboard used in these countries. however, the keyboards remain easily interchangeable, as the adaptations occur only at the special characters.

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Apple Keyboard Qwerty US International

Qwerty US International

The Qwerty US keyboard is not only used in the United States, but also in many other English speaking parts of the world, such as Autralia, India, New Zealand and South Africa. In the UK and Ireland, the keyboard is almost, but not completely, identical. The main differences are around currency signs (such as the £) and the enter sign that spans two rows in the UK version, instead of one in the US layout.

Finally, the US International keyboard is visually very similar to the original US, but this set-up allows to easily input accents and special characters. It is widely used worldwide, for example in The Netherlands.

Apple Keyboard Qwerty Italy

Qwerty Italy

The Italian Qwerty keyboard has minor differences from the standard version. The main ones are that there are special keys for the most common letters with accents, such as the é, the è and the à. It is hence adapted to wirte Italian, but also very suitable for people who want a Qwerty keyboard, but occassionally write in French.

In Italy, the Qwerty keyboard is the most widely used, but other layouts also exists: The Qwertz keyboard is for example used in the German-speaking part of Italy, and occasionnally, one sees the Qzerty keyboard, which was the standard set-up of the Italian typewriters.

Apple Keyboard Qwerty Spain

Qwerty Spain

In Spain, the Qwerty keyboard includes keys for the ñ and the ç that are widely used in the Spanish language. Some punctuation keys are also in different location than in the standard US ones, but generally that doesn't cause any difficulties for non-spanish users. One praticularity however is that in Spanish keyboards, the labelling is often translated leading for example to 'Intro' instead of 'Enter', and 'Inicio' instead of 'Home'.

The Spanish keyboards used in South America are almost similar, except for the fact that the ç key is often missing

Azerty

The Azerty layout is a signficant different variant of the Qwerty keyboard, and is widely used in France and Belgium (both in the French speaking and the Dutch speaking part of the country). It is hardly used anywhere outside these countries: French speaking Canada generally uses a Qwerty variant, and the same goes for the African countries where French is an official language.

Azerty France & Belgium

The Azerty keyboard is signifcantly different from the Qwerty keyboard, both for the standard letters (the A, the Z, the Q, the W, and the M are on different positions), but also for other frequently used keys, such as the numbers (a shift is required on Azerty) and punctuation keys like the '.' (dot). This makes it difficult to use for people who are not accustomed to it.

The keyboards in France and Belgium have some minor differences, such as a different place of the @ character. However, some providers such as Apple don't provide a specific 'Belgian' Azerty layout given the fact that the dissimilarities are largely seen as insignificant.

Apple Keyboard Azerty France

Qwertz

The Qwertz keyboard is widely used in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as in various central-European and Balkan countries. This variant finds its origin in the specificities of the German language where the letter 'Z' is very frequently used and the 'Y' is very uncommon.

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Apple Keyboard Qwertz Germany

Qwertz Germany & Autria

Apart from the different position of the 'Z' and the 'Y', the Qwertz keyboard is characterised by special keys for specific German letters such as the ß or the umlauts (ö, ä, ü). As usual with non-US keyboard, some special symbols are also in different positions copared to the standard Qwerty.

Some minor differences exist between Qwertz keyboard from the different countries. For example, Switzerland doesn't use the ß and therefore this key is missing in this variant. In some Baltic countries, specific keys are dedicated to characters specific for their language.