On August 24, 2002, Apple Computer shipped OS 10.2, also known as “Jaguar.” Yes, it’s been nearly 20 years. Included in that release was native, system-level support for Hawaiian, in the form of a Hawaiian keyboard and inclusion of the ‘okina and kahakō in a number of the fonts that ship with OS 10.2. Read a press release regarding this development here. Later versions of Macintosh OS X included localized date and time strings as well as Hawaiian sorting routines. This is a significant development for speakers of Hawaiian language, as this now allows users to type the ‘okina and kahakō without the installation of specialized fonts. The graphic below shows a number of built-in OS X fonts displaying the Hawaiian language.

I highly recommend that people stop using the old Papa Pihi “HI” that I developed while at Hale Kuamo‘o and the fonts associated with it (all of those fonts begin with “HI”). If you have a large collection of these fonts for desktop publishing purposes, it is OK to use them. However, if you are simply creating word processing documents (particularly if they are going to be shared), web pages and use Hawaiian in social media sites, please consider abandoning the “HI” fonts and going with Unicode.

(Updated 5/22/2021 using OS X 10.14.16)

Enabling The Hawaiian Keyboard in OS X

  1. Go to the “System Preferences”, choose the Languages and Regions panel, and look under the  Preferred Languages window on the left side.
  2. Click on the “+” (plus) sign below this window, and a list of available languages will be displayed.
  3. Click on the Keyboard Preferences… button.
  4. In the next panel that appears, select Input Sources, then click on the “+” (plus) sign below the list of keyboards that are currently activated.
  5. Select the Hawaiian keyboard, click on the Add button, and you will be returned to the previous screen.
  6. Close the System Preferences window and you will see a new keyboard menu on the menu bar, near the system clock. Choose the “Hawaiian” keyboard that is shows (do not chose the Papa Pihi “HI” if you see it there).
  7. Select a program that supports Unicode, such as any version of Microsoft Word 2004 or later, TextEdit, or Mail.
  8. Choose one of the fonts that support the Hawaiian characters, such as Helvetica, Lucida Grande, or Times. Many fonts, but not all, have the ‘okina and kahakō. If your ‘okina does not appear to be the same font as the rest of your text, you probably have chosen one that does not have the ‘okina in this location, so please choose another.
  9. To type the lower case vowels with kahakō above them (ā ē ī ō ū), press and hold the Option key and then type the vowel. To type the upper case vowels with kahakō above them (Ā Ē Ī Ō Ū), press and hold the Option and Shift keys together and then type the vowel. To type the ‘okina, simply type the apostrophe key (‘).

What Fonts Have The ‘Okina and Kahakō?

I created the document that is linked below and posted it on Scribd.com. While not all fonts on Macintosh OS X  have the kahakō and ‘okina characters, some fonts do. I’ve created lists of those fonts that I’ve found that do have the kahakō and ‘okina. They are available to download as .pdf documents from this site. This list was generated from computers my own PowerBook Pro running 10.6.5 many years ago, and I offer no assurance that every Macintoshinstall will contain all of these fonts or that they will have the characters. It is possible that more fonts have these characters available now – your mileage may vary.

Macintosh OS X (10.6) Fonts with ‘Okina and Kakahō

“But I have and love the old “HI” Fonts…”

OK, you can still use them, but the old “Papa Pihi” HI” no longer works on the most recent versions of Mac OS X. A few years ago the format for keyboard layout resources changed. The old format is actually a remnant of the pre-OS X operating systems. The new keyboard layouts are XML based, and I created one of these kinds of keyboard layouts a few years ago. Feel free to download and install it. You need to unzip the file, put it in /Library/Keyboard Layouts/, and either logout of your account or restart the computer. Then go into System Preferences -> International (or Language and Text, depending on the version of OS X), and select Input Source, scroll down and select “Papa Pihi HI”. To type the ‘okina and kahakō, follow the same instructions provided above for the “Hawaiian” keyboard. If you see the umlaut characters over the vowels, that means you are using the correct keyboard, but have not selected and “HI” font.

As always, I do not provide support for this, if it works for you, great. If not, sorry.

3 comments on “Macintosh OS X

Sam Low says:

Wow – thanks – I just ran into this via a post on Facebook by Sam Gon – if this works I can finish my book about Hokule’a and Nainoa, Mau and the ohana wa’a… what a stroke of luck – was searching for this info – mahalo

Cheryl Trang says:

The ‘okina is not “simply type type the apostrophe key”, which is why it is not called an apostrophe. On Macs you can type “Option ]”, and Windows type “Alt 39”. For typing in web forms (like this one), it is sometimes best to copy/paste an ‘okina from an existing one.

When you have the Hawaiian keyboard selected, yes, you simply type the apostrophe key. That key is remapped in the Hawaiian keyboard to produce the ‘okina. It is U+02BB, which we defined as the ‘okina in the Unicode spec in the late 1990s. I know because I designed the keyboard for Apple (and later Microsoft). Option – ] is fine if you don’t want to enable the Hawaiian keyboard. For those of us that type in Hawaiian completely a lot, using the Hawaiian keyboard and using the apostrophe key to generate the ‘okina is much easier, which is why we mapped the keyboard this way.

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