MacOS 12.4’s Redesigned Input Source Menu Removed the Flag Icons

Today is Flag Day here in the U.S., so when better to mention this unpopular change in MacOS 12.4 last month, as described in a question on StackExchange’s AskDifferent site:

I just upgraded to macOS Monterey 12.4 and now the flags, primarily the one for the current input source, is gone from the menu bar and was replaced with a country code.

I find the colored flags much easier to work with, also when quickly switching between inputs via a shortcut. How do I get back the flags?

The question includes screenshots showing the difference. For many years — decades? — the Input Source menu bar item that lets you switch between keyboard layouts for different languages has used colorful flag icons to denote those languages. Starting in MacOS 12.4, these flag icons were replaced by grayscale icons denoting two-letter codes like “US” (U.S. English), “GB” (British), etc.

This may sound like no big deal, but I heard from a slew of DF readers upset by the change. I’m not sure what Apple was thinking with this change. Is it an attempt to address the fact that some languages/layouts don’t truly map to a nation (e.g. Hebrew != Israel)? Or is this purely an aesthetic decision — a design choice that the icons in this menu should be monochromatic?

If it’s the latter, this is a mistake. Colorful icons are much easier to scan. Update: A little birdie tells me this change is the direct result of a companywide effort not to denote languages using country flags. I do see the sense of that, but it’s unfortunate it makes it harder to scan the menu at a glance.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022