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Windows (and Linux) users are used to the fact that after switching the typing language, the change affects only the active window. This way, one can type in English in the browser window, and Spanish in the IM window, without having to switch language after each Alt-Tab.

Is there a similar setting for OS X?

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Yes there is. Under Snow Leopard 10.6 :

System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources

you should see the radio option "Allow a different one for each document". Select that instead of "Use the same one for all documents".

  • So this means it can't be done on 10.5, right? – Moshe Sep 1 '09 at 20:05
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    The option is actually removed from 10.5 - much to the chagrin of international users around the world. You could try using InputSwitcher, which offers the same level of functionality. Better still - upgrade to Snow if you can. limechat.net/inputswitcher – caliban Sep 2 '09 at 3:04
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In OS X 10.9 it's set by checking the "Automatically switch to a document's input source" checkbox in:

System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Input Sources

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