French Keyboard Layout

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

There are 2 popular keyboard layouts for French language.

jelly comb keyboard french azerty 11754
French AZERTY keyboard.

French AZERTY Layout

french keyboard layout 2017 04 30
French (AZERTY) keyboard layout. Red are a dead keys. image source

〔►see Alt Graph Key, Compose Key, Dead Key


The French AZERTY Layout, is one of the most sucky layout possible.

2017-07-19 Max P said:

Besides A,Q-swapping and placing the period on S-semicolon, the AZERTY layout is incredibly idiotic for at least its placement of accents:

① the letter ù is at QWERTY's apostrophe ' place, very convenient to hit. The problem is that this letter is used in only one word, “où” (meaning “where”), and nowhere else. At the same time, the most common accented letter - é — is at key 2. I think it's more common than many consonants, often there are several é's in one word (préférée, réélu etc.)

② But if you hit Shift+ù or Shift+é , you get % and 2, respectively, instead of uppercase letters. To type uppercase Ù, you have to press AltGr+7 , then Shift+u . There is no way to type uppercase É.

③ There's a dedicated dead circumflex ^ and diaeresis ¨ key to the right of p . This is a good design: circumflex can be paired with any vowel ( î ê ô û â ), yet is not very frequent; diaeresis is much less common and it's ok to put in on shifted key. Then they decided to add dead key with grave ` accent, doubling à è ù keys, and for whatever reason dead nasalization symbol the tilde ~, which is not used in French at all! But there's no dead acute accent ´ , used for the most common é letter.

Because of this design, many french people now think that uppercase letters are never written with diacritics, which is not right. That's sad.

〔►see Idiocy of Keyboard Layouts: QWERTZ, AZERTY

Canadian French Layout

Canadian French kbd
Canadian French keyboard layout. image source

The Canadian French layout is based on QWERTY layout.

apple keyboard french canadian layout 33409
Apple MacBook Pro laptop keyboard, French Canadian Layout. 〔image source

〔►see Apple Keyboards ⌨

Alternative French Layouts

There are a few ergonomic layouts for French.

Dvorak-fr layout

  * 12345 67890 +%
  _ =/-è\ ^(`)" []

    :’ég. hvcmk z¨
    oaueb fstnd w~
  à ;q,iy xrlpj

Dvorak-fr is based on Dvorak.

〔►see Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Dvorak-fr has inverted number row.

Dvorak-fr appeared in 2002.

Dvorak-fr has 2 other variations. “Dvorak-fr-e” for entering all euro lang characters. “Dvorak-fr-k” for the Kinesis Contoured Keyboard.

〔►see Kinesis Advantage2 Keyboard Review

Dvorak-fr home page at


Bépo is a ergonomic layout for French.

bepo keyboard layout
bepo keyboard layout

Bépo has inverted number row.

Bépo is a later invention than Dvorak-fr. It claims to improve some problems in Dvorak-fr, and is more well marketed.

Bépo home page at


Bvofrak is ergonomic French layout. It's based on Dvorak-fr and Bépo.

It has several different versions for different keyboard.

bvofrak layout pc keyboard
Bvofrak layout for standard PC keyboard
bvofrak layout truly ergonomic keyboard
Bvofrak layout for Truly Ergonomic Keyboard
bvofrak layout typematrix
Bvofrak layout for TypeMatrix Keyboard

There's even a version for English.

Bvofrak home page at

French Letter Frequency and Keyboard Layout

French Letter Frequency and Keyboard Layout

How Do French People Type the Accents?

I asked a native French friend how French people type those accents. Here's his reply.

how do french people type those accents?

most people use AZERTY's accents on the first row:

  • 2é
  • 7è
  • 9ç
  • 0à

for the rest there is ù key beside m and

  • ¨e=ë
  • ˆe=ê

Using Dvorak layout on OS X i use the associative chars [ ` ´ ¨ ˆ ˆ ]+[aoeui].

all the people i know, engineers/scientists tend to stick with AZERTY,while some geeks/coders are using QWERTY/Maltron.some authors use BEPO.


〔►see Maltron Keyboard Review

〔►see Maltron vs Dvorak keyboard Layout

when in online chat, do people bother to type é è à etc properly? or do they just use e a?

Depends on the person but most of the time they type the accents, even when it's not really useful like: 'télé'(TV)

it seems awful to type all those accents. Is there some auto-add-accent in word processor or such?

I'm amazed how French are not annoyed by having to always go upthere. In word proccessors yes Auto-correct takes care of invariable accents.

〔►see International Keyboard Layouts

〔►see Alternative Keyboard Layouts

Keyboard International Layouts

  1. International Keyboard Layouts
  2. Chinese Input Methods
  3. Japanese Keyboard Layouts
  4. Russian Keyboard Layout
  5. German Keyboard Layout
  6. French Keyboard Layout