For Windows: Download VPSKEYS

Windows users who don’t mind taking a few minutes to download, install, and set up some software should consider typing Vietnamese using VPSKEYS. It’s free, and you can customize the keys used to enter the accents.

Before you get VPSKEYS, though, there are a few things you’ll need to do if you plan on typing Vietnamese in Microsoft Word. Because some of Word’s features may interfere with the correct functioning of VPSKEYS, you’ll have to deactivate them. Otherwise, you may encounter problems such as seemingly random insertion of spaces as well as capitalization of lowercase letters. So follow these measures:

1. In Word 2007, click on the circular, multi-colored Office icon in the upper left-hand corner.

2. Select Word Options, located toward the bottom right-hand corner of the window that pops up.

3. Select Proofing from the menu on the left-hand side.

4. Under the section AutoCorrect options, click the AutoCorrect Options... button.

5. In the window that pops up, uncheck Replace text as you type.

6. Click OK.

7. You’re back to the Word Options window. Now select Advanced from the menu on the left-hand side.

8. Under the section Cut, copy, and paste, uncheck Use smart cut and paste.

9. Click OK.

Hooray! Now you’re ready to get VPSKEYS! Follow these steps:

1. Download VPSKEYS from the Vietnamese Professionals Society website at At the time this article was published, the website was under construction and the software was not available for download. Volunteer typists (you know who you are), you can find a copy of VPSKEYS in the folder I've shared with you.

2. Run the application and follow the steps for installation.

3. To complete the installation, you may or may not be prompted to restart your computer.

4. Once installation is complete, access the Start menu.

5. Click on All Programs.

6. Click on Hoi Chuyen Gia Viet Nam (Vietnamese Professionals Society).

7. Select VPSKEYS 4.3.

8. In your taskbar, near the system icons for clock and volume, the bright blue, diamond-shaped VPSKEYS 4.3 icon should appear. Click on the icon to open the application. (Important: this is also the icon you right-click on to exit the application when you want to stop typing in Vietnamese.)

9. Without going into all the details and features of the application, here are some basic guidelines for configuration:

a. In the Điều Chỉnh (Settings) tab, make sure that under Cách Đánh (Input Method), Việt Nam is selected. When you want to switch back to your original, regional input method (whether English, French, etc.), you can either manually select Địa Phương (Regional) in the application, or you can press ALT + SHIFT to toggle between input methods while typing.

b. Deselect Autoload, unless you want VPSKEYS to automatically load, or open, every time you start your computer.

c. In the Kỹ Thuật (Technical) tab, under Sửa Nút Dấu (Modify Accent Keys), keep the default Thường (Normal) selected.

d. You’ll see that by default, the accents have been assigned to number keys according to the VNI input method. If you want, you can reassign the accents according to other input methods such as Telex or VIQR, or your own input method.

e. If you want to use the “double key” shortcut, leave Đánh dấu đôi selected. This option enables entering a key twice in succession to produce a certain accented letter. The strokes and results, which are not all very intuitive, are as follows:

aa → ă
ee → ê
ii → ì
oo → ơ
uu → ư
yy → ỳ
dd → đ

f. Finally, the Nút Thoát (Exit Key) is set by default to the backslash. You can assign it to a different key if you wish, but this is usually not necessary. The Exit key is VERY IMPORTANT because it allows you to temporarily cancel the accent-producing function of an assigned key so that you can use that key for its original purpose. For example, if I’ve chosen to assign accents to my number keys according to the VNI method, then typing A followed by the number 1 will result in Á. But what if I actually want to use the 1 key for its original purpose so I can write a Vietnamese poem about “A1 Steak Sauce”? I would have to use the backslash exit key right before I type 1. The keystrokes and result would be as follows:

A\1 → A1

Alternatively, I can toggle back to my original input source, in this case English-US keyboard, by pressing ALT + SHIFT (mentioned in step a above). Then, after I’ve typed “A1 Steak Sauce,” I’d need to press ALT + SHIFT again to toggle back to Vietnamese.

One more example: Say I’m using the VIQR input method, whereby typing a period after a vowel will insert dấu nặng below it. But I actually want to end my sentence with a word ending in a vowel and punctuate it with a period, as in “Nó thích ăn kẹo me.” (“She/He likes to eat tamarind candy.”) To avoid inserting the period as a dấu nặng, hit the exit key before hitting the period. The keystrokes and result would be as follows:

me\. → me.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you've recently installed VPSKEYS and find that your usernames and/or passwords are no longer working, it may be because you have VPSKEYS activated and are typing in Vietnamese. Read step 8 above to learn where and how to deactivate it.

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