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Localization question

In US Windows there are a bunch of mnemonic keyboard accelerators, like
Ctrl+S = save
Ctrl+X,C,V = cut, copy, paste

Are these the same in every language version of Windows or do they get localized?


Joel Spolsky
Friday, September 5, 2003

Friday, September 5, 2003

I'll swear they are the same, at least in W2K and Win XP

They certainly don't change when you change the keyboard layout and input language.

Not all of them are mnemonic anyway. Crtl + C for copy is, but the other three on the bottom line are simply there because of their relationship to C.

Stephen Jones
Friday, September 5, 2003

I disagree with the advice given in the book that they should be translated. But check what the appropriate version of Windows or Word does (as I said I don't think it translates)

Stephen Jones
Friday, September 5, 2003

The common ones are not localized in French as far as I know:

But usually application specific ones are localized so they are easier to remember E.g: CTRL+F (find) are sometimes CTL+R (Rechercher)

Robert Chevallier
Friday, September 5, 2003

Agree with Stephen. The guide doesn't distinguish between accelerator keys (ALT+) which MUST be localized and Shortcut key.

Robert Chevallier
Friday, September 5, 2003

I did a quick check with WordPad on a German Windows 2000, SP1. He're the shortcuts:

Ctrl-N -> New Document
Ctrl-O -> Open Document
Ctrl-S -> Save Document
Ctrl-P -> Print Document
Ctrl-Z -> Undo
Ctrl-X -> Cut
Ctrl-C -> Copy
Ctrl-V -> Paste
Del -> Delete
Ctrl-A -> Select All
Ctrl-F -> Find
F3 -> Find again
Ctrl-H -> Replace
Alt-Enter -> Object Properties

On German keyboards, the "Ctrl" key is entitled "Strg" so the shortcuts are in fact Strg-<whatever>.

Hope this helps. If I should check out other applications, just say so.


Janek Schwarz
Friday, September 5, 2003

Swedish and Dutch software uses ctrl-c / x /v etc just like english versions.

Eric Debois
Friday, September 5, 2003

Thanks. I'm working on the CityDesk localization kit and wondering if I have to worry about these. So I guess European users of software are used to things like Ctrl+P for print even if that's not remotely mnemonic...

With Ctrl+X, C, and V my guess is those keys were chosen to allow easy chording: using the left hand on the keyboard and the right hand on the mouse, and it's easy to move things around. On keyboards with a different arrangement of letters this advantage might not work...

Joel Spolsky
Friday, September 5, 2003

In the Hebrew version of Windows, The "File" = "Kovetz" menu in most programs is opened by Alt-"Koof", which is actually Alt-E and not Alt-F.

Ori Berger
Friday, September 5, 2003

> With Ctrl+X, C, and V my guess is those keys were
> chosen to allow easy chording: using the left hand
> on the keyboard and the right hand on the mouse,
> and it's easy to move things around.

Correct, and Apple did it first.  IIRC (and I may not be!)  there was quite a long period during the Windows 3.1-and-earlier days when X and V were not cut and paste.  I don't recall which keys were, but I do recall my simultaneous frustration (because I kept hitting the wrong keys when they changed it) and elation (because X-C-V is so obviously better) causing a great deal of cognitive dissonnance for about a month.


Eric Lippert
Friday, September 5, 2003

Zip up, your Cooper is showing.

Friday, September 5, 2003

In Japanese windows they also use the same keyboard shortcuts as English

Matthew Lock
Friday, September 5, 2003

"IIRC (and I may not be!)  there was quite a long period during the Windows 3.1-and-earlier days when X and V were not cut and paste."

The original shortcuts were:

Ctrl+Delete = Cut
Ctrl+Insert = Copy
Shift+Insert = Paste

There is, in some sense, some logic to these keybindings. But the chording value of X/C/V cannot be beat. :)

Brad Wilson (
Friday, September 5, 2003

Please, don't translate shortcuts. This only confuses people that use both the English and localized versions.

It is terribly distressing to press Ctrl-S to save a spreadsheet in Excel 2000, Brazilian Portuguese version, and discover that I underlined (Sublinhar) a cell instead.

I think that people at Microsoft figured that out a few years ago, because in WinXP they use the standard English throughout. I was loath to use notepad in Windows 98 because it used Ctrl-L instead of Ctrl-F for the Find command.

Marcos Rubinelli
Saturday, September 6, 2003

While we're on the subject: a bizarre localisation gotcha I ran into with Excel recently.  In French (and other) locales, Comma Separated Value (CSV) files use a period as the field separator. This is because comma is used as the decimal separator. If you have an application which exports CSV, you have to adapt your separator depending on the system locale. Which means CSV files aren't portable between locales!

IMHO, the format name (CSV) dictates that the on disk separator should always be comma, and that only the on-screen presentation should be locale sensitive. But it seems not...

Saturday, September 6, 2003

I have run across this as well and have changed all my separators to | pipes with no problem so far.

I would be interested to hear of any issues that you've countered.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

As a developer I swear to US-English versions of everything. So doing a find in Norwegian Word is difficult, as ctrl + f is localized to mean bold ("fet" in Norwegian). Ctrl + f is, "obviously", changed to ctrl + b.

When I use a Norwegian Word I always bold the text before I remember the find shortcut is changed. Norwegian for "find"? It's "finn".

Thomas Eyde
Saturday, September 6, 2003

In the Spanish version of Office, the "edit" shortcuts (ctrl-c, ctrl-x, ctrl-v) are the same, but the rest are translated.

Ctrl-G for Save ("Guardar"), ctrl-N for Bold ("Negrita"), etc.

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Windows still retains the original Ctrl+Delete, Ctrl+Insert, and Shift+Insert bindings for cut, copy, and paste in addition to the newer Ctrl+X,C,V for usability reasons.  There's no good reason to force people who learned Windows 3.1 to relearn how to cut, copy, and paste and there is a certain logic to the choice of keys.  I've found very few applications that don't support those key bindings.

Matt Latourette
Saturday, September 6, 2003

Another advantage of the old key bindings is that Ctrl-X, C, V have absolutely no chording value for us lefties.

Chris Tavares
Sunday, September 7, 2003

We have just been using Russian Windows with the language settings set to Russian etc. and the same ctrl-c hotkeys do work.  The one thing to note however is that we have an english keyboard attached to the box, not a russian one.

Colin Newell
Sunday, September 7, 2003


The problem with CSV is that a decimal sign for number is locale dependent. Ie: in French, the decimal separator is a comma, so you cannot use it as a separator between fields. The solution is then to use a semi-colon.

Good products usually allows you to define what are the separators for decimal and fields, so you have no problems exchanging data.

Robert Chevallier
Sunday, September 7, 2003

Why should a file format obey local currency formatting? Nearly all, if not all, programming languages use the dot as the decimal sign, why shouldn't file formats follow the same convention? You would be really thick if you can't read the numbers in your cvs file the one time you have to open it in notepad.

Thomas Eyde
Sunday, September 7, 2003

Dear Thomas,
                    The problem is that most programming languages might use the decimal point, (probably because they were developed by anglo-saxons) but data is entered into databases by people using the normal rules of their language (and the decimal comma is at least as common as the decimal point). This has nothing to do with currency.

                      Some programs might convert the decimal separator when they export to CSV, but having the comma as default is asking for trouble.

Stephen Jones
Monday, September 8, 2003

Well, in OS/2 (common ancestor at least), mnemonics could, if I remember correctly, be redefined in resource files - and were in our case. I'd imagine this function still exists in Windows (hard to believe it was something new on our end or something MS would have taken out).

Monday, September 8, 2003

I'm also frequently annoyed by the localization of some shortcuts in Word 97. In the German version formatting text bold or italic is ctrl+shift+f ("fett") and ctrl+shift+k ("kursiv"). The more popular shortcuts (clipboard actions, print, ...), as noted above, are not localized. Don't know if more recent versions changed this behavior.

It's even more annoying that VBA commands are localized, which means you can't simply use a solution from an English web page.

In short: don't localize shortcuts.

Martin Dittus
Monday, September 8, 2003

Stephen, I think the point Thomas was trying to make is that it makes more sense for CSV to be a consistant format, and for the program to translate between that and localized format on input/output.  The only case I don't see this being true is if the user wants to edit the CSV file by hand

Mike McNertney
Monday, September 8, 2003

for  ru/ua cirillyc  key is the same but it should work for ru/ua key map. I do not know if key code will change (afaik it will change for ru/ua key map and some software stop recognizing keys until you switch back to EN).

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

For reference, I made a macro in Lotus Approach 97 (back in, well, '97) in the Danish version of the program. The macro used shortcut keys to mark an area and export it to Excel.
When I sent the application to the customer it wasn't working because they had the English/US version and the shortcuts where different. Grrr...

Glenn. B. Hansen
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Mike, I understand Thomas's point but it doesn't work. There are plenty of cases where you are getting the data for a CSV file from a program that does not change numbering systems - word for example.

And what happens if you are putting a decimal number in a text field?

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

As a general rule, do it as Microsoft does with Office. I really hate it, but alas, I'm not a common user, but a developer and I'm used to english shortcuts; normal users are used to Office shortcuts (in spanish, Ctrl-B to find ("Buscar"), for example.)

Of course, add an option so I can change shortcuts, please.

Leonardo Herrera
Tuesday, September 9, 2003


If there's a comma embedded in a field, the field is supposed to be in quotes.

So if you have 10 and 20 as two floating point numbers, the line in the CSV should be:


Not that there's a "real" csv format spec, but this is always the way I've seen this problem handled.

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, September 9, 2003

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