How to type transliterated Sanskrit on the Mac easily

The easiest way to type transliterated Sanskrit I have found is to use the small app aText.

aText is a text expander app. It can replace or extend any text you typed. This will probably also work with other text expanders like TypeIt4Me, TextExpander and others. aText costs 5 Euro in the Mac App Store. I would recommend to buy it from the developers site ( though as that version is more capable as it is not restricted by the Mac sandboxing.

Once installed you find the aText symbol on the right hand side of the Finder’s menu bar.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-11-16 um 13.57.34

All you need to do now is to create a new group.

  1. Choose “Show aText” to open aText if it is not already open.
  2. Click on “New Group”.
  3. Give the group a name like “Sanskrit Transliteration”.
  4. Make sure the “Expand” pop up is set to “Immediately”.
  5. Choose “Any character” for the pop up “If abbreviation is placed after”.
    This is important as this makes sure you can type along without having to type a trigger key like space, tab or return, thus ensuring a normal typing.

Now you can set up the shortcut snippets.

  1. Make sure you have selected the Sanskrit Transliteration group you just created.
  2. Click on the + icon to create a new snippet.
  3. Type the abbreviation you want to use into the abbreviation field, for instance type t. to get a ṭ.
  4. Type the actual character the abbreviation should get replaced with, the ṭ.
  5. Continue to create new snippets until you have covered all special latin characters used.

Following screenshot shows you what snippets I use.


For any accent under a character the accent-indicator (dot, hypen, etc.) is used after the latin character.

For any accent above a character the accent-indicator is used before the character.

So a dot below a character is always written r. l. m. h. t. d. n.
This gets replaced then by ṛ ḷ ṃ ḥ ṭ ḍ ṇ

For a dot above, type the dot before the character like .m to get ṃ

For a macron type a hyphen before the characters: -a -i -u and -r. and -l.
You get ā ī ū ṝ ḹ

For ṝ and ḹ you will get a small pop up  from which you can select if it should be expanded to ṝ and ḹ or ṛ and ḷ

To get the ñ type ~n

To get the ś type ‘s

Use the systems character palette to insert the special characters ṭ ḍ and so on.

If you don’t need to write in Transliteration anymore, disable aText in its menu so you don’t get this replacements when typing in other languages.

Now you can write transliterated Sanskrit in all applications, at least all applications that behave properly and are using the standard Mac frameworks for programming their apps, which should be the vast majority.

Posted in Sanskrit, Transliteration, Typing | 2 Comments

Comparison of Devanagari fonts on OS X using the 807 documented ligatures of classical Sanskrit, according to the research of Ulrich Stiehl

Sanskrit on the Mac
Before OS X 10.10 Yosemite there have been only two fonts in OS X with support for Devanagari characters, this have been Devanagari Sangam MN and Devanagari MT.
Since Yosemite the fonts Kohinoor, ITF and Shree have been added. All 3 come in several styles, making it thereby possible for the first time to write Sanskrit in Italic and other styles right out of the box, without buying additional fonts.

To use Windows OpenType fonts like Sanskrit 2003, Chandas, Uttara and others on the Mac, you have to use at least OS X 10.7 Lion which introduced support for the necessary OpenType features.

The following table is a comparison of several fonts that can be used on the Mac and that are freely available. Despite this free availability, please observe the copyright and license under wich these fonts are distributed.

In the last lines of the table I have counted how many of the 807 ligatures are using a Virama to form the ligature.
The result shows that the fonts Sanskrit 2003, Chandas and Uttara are by far the best, using a Virama only for 6 ligatures out of 807. I am not sure though if this six are an issue with the font being used on the Mac or one with the input method used. It would be interesting to compare this to the same ligatures on a Windows Computer. As I don’t own a Windows computer I leave this to others.

How to type Devanagari on the Mac
Using the Apple Devanagari keyboards:

I would recommend to use LipikaIME on the Mac. With this input method you can type ITRANS and get Devanagari characters as you type. It also features a converter to convert whole files from iTRANS, Kyoto or other encodings to Devanagari or the other way around. Go to
and click on ’Installation Instructions’. There you find the Installer to download. Notice the additional menus in the keyboard chooser, once you select the LipikaIME input method where you can set preferences, convert whole files and set the input and output scheme.

For selecting specific glyphs that are not automatically used by the OS, I would recommend the app ‘Ultra Character Map’ ( which lets you browse all glyphs contained in a font.

‘The Multilingual Mac’ by Tom Gewecke

I thank Ulrich Stiehl for his reasearch ( about the Sanskrit Ligatures that are actually in use in classical Sanskrit and which form the bulk of this table. Any errors found in this table are purely my fault and I would be happy if you notify me.

Download the 49 pages comparison of Sanskrit Fonts on the Mac here:

Sanskrit7.numbers.pdf – 2MB

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