Beginning with iOS 10, Apple’s predictive QuickType keyboard supports multiple languages without switching keyboards. This lets you type in multiple languages simultaneously and take advantage of the auto-correct function to receive appropriate suggestions without having to switch between different keyboards manually. This tutorial explains how to set up multilingual typing on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

System requirements for multilingual typing

Multilingual typing requires the following:

  • iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 10.0 or later
  • Appropriate Dictionary files downloaded through the Settings app
  • QuickType keyboards in selected languages

Multilingual typing is currently supported in the following languages:

  • English (U.S.)
  • English (Australia)
  • English (Canada)
  • English (India)
  • English (Singapore)
  • English (UK)
  • French (France)
  • French (Belgium)
  • French (Canada)
  • French (Switzerland)
  • German (Germany)
  • German (Austria)
  • German (Switzerland)
  • Italian
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Portuguese (Portugal)
  • Spanish (Spain)
  • Spanish (Latin America)
  • Spanish (Mexico)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Chinese (English on the Chinese keyboard)

Apple typically refreshes its iOS Feature Availability webpage with an up-to-date list of new languages supported by iOS 10’s multilingual typing as they’re added.

How to set up multilingual typing on iPhone

1) On your iPhone, go to Settings → General → Dictionary.

2) Select any languages you’d like to use with the QuickType keyboard.

Don’t go back until the dictionary file for the selected language has finished downloading. You can select multiple languages to use for multilingual typing.

3) Now head over to Settings → General → Keyboards → Keyboards.

4) Tap Add New Keyboard and add keyboards in the languages you just downloaded.

For example, if you downloaded French and German dictionaries you would add both French and German keyboards to your list of active keyboards in the system.

Tip: Reorder your keyboards here to customize how they appear in the popup menu.

5) Close out the Settings app.

How to use multilingual typing on iPhone

Once you’ve added keyboards and download dictionaries you wish to use with them, use the QuickType keyboard as you normally would. The system will analyze what you’re typing and intelligently provide next-word suggestions in an appropriate language.

No longer will auto-correct kick in, trying to correct words typed in another language.

Want to change the order of next-word suggestions? No problem, go to Settings → General → Language & Region → Preferred Language Order and rearrange the list.

If you, say, reorder your preferred languages so that French comes before English, the first QuickType suggestion should be in French rather than in English.

Multilingual typing not working as expected?

You probably need to adjust your iPhone’s regional settings in Settings → General → Language & Region → iPhone Language. For example, if device language is set to English (US) and you’re using that keyboard rather than French, you might only be allowed to type in English. But as you switch to another keyboard, like German, you should be able to write in both English and German.

As mentioned, multilingual typing is limited to the supported languages that have both the dictionary and the keyboard in iOS. Not a fan of Apple’s predictive QuickType keyboard? Try a third-party one which allows multilingual typing, such as SwiftKey.

Do you use multilingual typing on your iPhone?

  • Scotow

    Sad we can’t have multiple languages without the globe icon on the keyboard.

  • mahe

    I can type English and German on the German keyboard without having the English one (I only have the German and the Emoji Keyboard enabled).

    As far as I know (experience) you only need to have the languages you want to type in the list of “Preferred Language Order”

    • Tom M

      Das funktioniert bei mir nicht.

  • Martynet

    For this I use SwiftKey, because Czech language is not supported by Apple yet. But I have to say, I’m very happy with SwiftKey. Yes, occasionally there is hiccups, but I assume Apple will never allow any 3rd party keyboard work as good as the original one. It definitely got better since the beginning of iOS 8, but sometimes it still lags and takes a second or two to appear and sometimes you have to restart iMessage app, when swiftkey doesn’t launch at all.

  • Rodrigo Freijanes

    I use it to write in English and Brazilian Portuguese.