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How to Write Special Characters on Macs



Here’s the situation: you’re typing a report for work and suddenly you have to write the phrase “Jones née Berkowitz”. Or you add a sentence in Spanish and have to use the word ‘años’. How do you add the special characters to the letters?

Special characters (also known as diacritics) may be more common in certain languages, but there are many circumstances in which English speakers may need to use them. But because they are so rare in English, native English speakers may not have learned how to add those marks to documents, emails, or other writings on their Macs.

Here̵

7;s how:

To access more common diacritics, simply press and hold the key for the letter you want to use until a small numbered menu appears on the screen. The menu that appears shows all diacritics available for that letter; just type the correct number and the letter with the character will appear on your screen.

If you use the

If you hold down the “e” key, all available diacritics with numbers will appear.

Use the keyboard viewer

There are a number of other special characters you may want to use, which you can access by pressing the Option key on your Mac’s keyboard and then pressing the appropriate key. Not sure which key is the right one? There is a keyboard viewer that allows you to see all the variations you can use.

Finding the keyboard view is easy – if you have the input menu icon in your menu bar.

The input menu icon appears in the top right menu bar.

The input menu icon appears in the top right menu bar.

Do not you see? To get it in your menu bar, follow these steps:

Go to Apple menu> System Preferences> Keyboard. Click the Input Sources tab and look for the check box labeled “Show input menu in menu bar.” If it is unchecked then check it.

To get the input menu icon, you need to enable it in your keyboard preferences.

To get the input menu icon, you need to enable it in your keyboard preferences.

Click the Input Menu icon (which is now on the right side of your menu bar). Select ‘Show Keyboard View’.

An image of your keyboard will appear on your screen. When you press the Option key on your keyboard, the Keyboard Viewer shows which special characters are available when you press those keys in combination with the Option key.

The keyboard viewer shows you available special characters ...

The keyboard viewer shows special characters …

... when you press the Options key.

… when you press the Option key.

Note: Some keys are outlined in orange. These are the keys we mentioned earlier, the ones that have different special characters and can be held down to see the different characters that can be used with them.


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