Note: This article is somewhat outdated. Please read the updated version of this article at my website www.33dots.com/index.php/web/to-read-and-type-malayalam.htm
A computer represents an alphabet using a number code. The coding scheme which is currently used (ASCII) however only represents the English alphabet and numerals and some special characters.
Unicode is a new encoding scheme which represents all alphabets in all languages in the world. In Unicode, Malayalam first letter ‘a’ (അ) is given the code number 3333. Similarly, different numbers are given for rest of Malayalam alphabets. The fonts that understand this new encoding scheme are called Unicode fonts.
The use of Unicode fonts opens up wonderful possibilities. For an example, it allows you to search google for Malayalam words and retrieve web pages which contain that particular Malayalam text.
To read and write Malayalam properly in your computer you need to have Unicode Malayalam fonts installed in your machine. Windows XP comes with a default Malayalam unicode font Karthika, but it is small and difficult to read.
So its recommended to install some other unicode malayalam font like AnjaliOldLipi, Rachana etc.
Please Note that the font used in the websites like Malayala-manorama, Deepika etc are not unicode, they are just usual ASCII encoded fonts which uses malayalam symbols at the places of English one’s. They use the code numbers assigned for English alphabets for Malayalam. This method does not have any of the features of Unicode fonts.
To install unicode font AnjaliOldLipi(Windows)
- Download the font from here
- Go to Control panel > Fonts > Install fonts(file menu)
- Browse to the font you downloaded.
- Click ok and the font will be installed.
To enable Firefox and IE read Malayalam page.
Note that you need these steps only if this if you see some garbage here “മലയാളം” or Here.
- Make sure you have AnjaliOldLipi installed.
- Go to Tools > Options > Content (Tab)
- You can see the Fonts & Colors section. Take Advanced.
- Choose Malayalam from the Fonts for dropdown menu.
- Now set AnjaliOldLipi in each of the dropdown list. Click Ok and Ok.
- Check whether you can see malayalam written here “മലയാളം” or Here.
- Go to Tools > Internet Options.
- Click Fonts and Choose Malayalam form the Language Script dropdown menu
- Set the font as AnjaliOldLipi in the below list box.
To Write Malayalam.
The standard computer keyboard is not designed to support Unicode character inputting.
So, one option is to use a software called Varamozhi. This software allows text inputting in Mozhi scheme [typing ‘ka’ in English will output malayalam letter ka (ക) in Varamozhi] and it automatically creates a unicode file.
Another option is to use a software called MozhiKeymap, which maps the keys you pressed to the appropriate Unicode one. This software allows typing into IE or Word directly in Mozhi scheme. Please click here for detailed installation instructions.
Incorrect Display [eg Chillu letters]
It’s seen that Firefox, Notepad etc render malayalam letters incorrectly while IE and Word etc display them correctly.
This is usually due to an old version of the Unicode rendering file ‘usp10.dll‘.
Usually installing a new version of this file from Microsoft may solve the problem.
Download and unzip the file to a temporary directory.
Rename the usp10.dll in windows/system32 to usp10OLD.dll[backup copy] and copy the new usp10.dll.
Also do the same with the usp10.DLL in the ../program files/common files/microsoft shared/office10 directory
Restart the windows.
Have fun reading and writing Malayalam🙂 …..