For reasons that perhaps make up another blog post, my primary development machine these days is an old Macbook Pro running Windows 10. I alternate between a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard and the laptop keyboard itself depending on where I'm working. Windows let's you switch between keyboard layouts exactly for this kind of setup using a handy icon in the system tray.
Here's the issue though. The keyboard layout changes often, but not when I want it to. It's like Windows is trolling me right when I'm trying to get down to some coding.
I’ve put up with this for probably longer than is reasonable. I have realised that at multiple points throughout a normal working day the layout will change and I’ll just automatically go to the system tray, switch the keyboard layout to the correct type and carry on where I left off, hopefully without any loss of context. That doesn’t seem very efficient though &emdash; it’s time to poke around the keyboard settings for a real fix.
Keyboard Shortcuts - A Hopeful Start
It turns out that Windows has a shortcut key combination to change between keyboard layouts using
ctrl+shift. You can change the combination as well. To investigate this I navigated to the below screen using Settings > Typing > Advanced Keyboard Settings > Language Bar Options, which should then give you the relevant pop-up dialog:
I was initially optimistic about this thinking that
ctrl+shift is probably a key combination I’m hitting by accident. My guess was that when typing at speed (and so less accurately than is perhaps ideal) I have a semi high chance of pressing
ctrl+shift instead of
shift+\ when aiming for a pipe symbol, as those keys are all pushed up against each other on this keyboard. This seemed like progress.
With the above discovery, I turned off the keyboard shortcut altogether thinking I’d finally solved this weirdness, but guess what, it’s still happening! It hasn’t really been long enough (plus I haven’t been paying enough attention) to know if it’s happening as often as before. As an interim work-around I’ve actually turned back on the keyboard shortcut to change keyboard layouts, as at least that way changing back the layout is very fast compared to finding the system tray icon.
Is this a solvable mystery? If you’re a Windows 10 power user, do share the secret of how to get keyboard layouts to persist!