Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key System 10.6
Snow Leopard only hintIf you regularly use a language that requires letters with diacritics -- such as , , , , , , , , etc. as they are used in Spanish, French or Portuguese -- and you recently switched from Windows to Mac OS X as I have, you might find this hint useful.

In Windows, while there were various ways to enter these characters, the best one of them was just to enter a ' and then the vowel, and you would get the accented version of that letter (in this example, the letter with the acute diacritic).

In Mac OS X however, if you set the keyboard layout to a language that has these letters (such as Spanish), you cannot use this trick; the only way of inputting these letters is the standard way supplied in Mac OS X (Option-e then e for ; Option-e, then i for ; etc.). I personally found this very annoying, and searched for quite a while on how to change this.

The answer is a lot simpler than I expected. If you use the US International - PC keyboard layout, you instantly get the fast way of entering the letters with diacritics back!

Go to System Preferences » Language & Text » Input Sources. Check the US International - PC input method in the list of Input Methods. (If you also use other Input Methods, uncheck the others or select the US International - PC method as the current Input Method.)

Now you can use the fastest way of entering these characters.
  • For , , , , : press ' and directly after that, the vowel.
  • For , , , , : press ` and directly after that, the vowel. (Note that ` is slightly different slightly different from ' ... on my keyboard, it is located right of the left-side Shift key.)
  • For , , , , : press " and directly after that, the vowel.
  • For , , : press and directly after that, the letter.
NOTE: Setting your keyboard layout to US International - PC could change the location of some other symbols if you ordered your Mac with an other-than-International keyboard. In my case, everything was still where it should be, but check this and experiment a little with it and find out what best suits your needs.
    •    
  • Currently 3.75 / 5
  You rated: 5 / 5 (36 votes cast)
 
[36,386 views]  

10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key | 40 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the '10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: busterpkeaton on Mar 05, '10 07:54:00AM

pieter,
you have no idea how much time & work you've saved me with this hint. i've been asking around for something like this for ages. thanks a lot!



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: TvE on Mar 05, '10 08:17:03AM

Then let me tell you how to save even more time - Go to System Preferences -> Language & Text -> Input Sources and enable "Keyboard & Character Viewer".

Then - from the (global) menu in the upper right corner - choose "Show Keyboard Viewer".
Here you can hold down the modifier keys (CMD, ALT, SHIFT etc) and see what the resulting character is, eg how to type the "degree" character (ALT-q).

PS.: I believe that this help have been available since Mac OS 8 or even 7.x - so nothing new here



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 05, '10 11:07:49AM

Might even have been System 6, around the time I started using Macs.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: asmeurer on Mar 05, '10 03:24:45PM
According to http://www.nd.edu/~jvanderk/sysone/ it's been around since Mac OS 1, but it didn't gain the ability to show modifier key equivalents until later (I couldn't find out what version that was. If anyone knows, I'm interested).

[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: pietervw on Mar 09, '10 08:28:22AM

Glad I could help out :-).



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: xgoetzfried on Mar 05, '10 07:55:57AM

I am using a German keyboard and what you are explaining - accent + vowel - is the normal behaviour.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: winfred on Mar 05, '10 08:09:54AM

Good tip thanks!
Would be great if you can get the same behaviour with the other keyboards.
E.g. on my (European) keyboard Alt-2 should give the Euro sign (using e.g. Dutch layout),
with US-international-PC layout it goes back to the TM symbol.
Can't have it all I guess.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: liamascorcaigh on Apr 15, '10 03:01:44AM

Just hold down alt+shift and press the key and hey presto! the sign appears



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: asmeurer on Mar 05, '10 08:12:33AM

The special keys in this hint are showing up as black diamonds with question marks in them in the RSS feed. Also, the other one today about the faces in iPhoto shows <br><br> at every line break, though it looks like that is just because the author forgot to set the post mode as html.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: TvE on Mar 05, '10 08:18:02AM

Works for me - so the issue is probably a client side browser issue!



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: asmeurer on Mar 05, '10 08:18:41AM

I get it both in Safari and Mail in Snow Leopard.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 05, '10 11:08:46AM

This is a provider issue. Not following standards.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: tempel on Mar 05, '10 09:06:44AM

FWIW, I see the same problems in the Safari feed page



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: ttt on Mar 05, '10 10:28:45AM

No, it's a common text encoding problem. The feed presents itself as UTF-8, but the site content appears to be ISO Latin 1. One or the other should be changed by the powers that be. I'd suggest going with UTF-8 everywhere.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: dronkert on Mar 05, '10 10:30:33AM

Yep, same here. Character set of the RSS feed is different to the page source, without any translation.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: ashill on Mar 05, '10 08:25:27AM
In Mac OS X however, if you set the keyboard layout to a language that has these letters (such as Spanish), you cannot use this trick; the only way of inputting these letters is the standard way supplied in Mac OS X (Option-e then e for ; Option-e, then i for ; etc.). I personally found this very annoying, and searched for quite a while on how to change this.

Unless I misunderstand you, that's not correct. For example, if you set the keyboard layout to Spanish, the key that is labeled as '[' on a US keyboard (to the right of the 'p') is the key that switches to diacritic mode. That key is easier for my fingers to reach than the backtick, so I prefer that method. On my US-labeled keyboard, the keystroke is [-e for .

As others have mentioned, you can use the keyboard viewer (enabled in System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources) to see where the keys are in your current keyboard layout.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: MtnBiker on Mar 05, '10 09:15:41AM

Another way for French using a standard American English keyboard. Not better, but different.

I used Ukelele <http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&item_id=ukelele> to map the common ones to the same place as on a French keyboard. I'm a touch typist and know the English QWERTY keyboard, so switching to a French keyboard is "impossible", but with an extended keyboard (needed because the common diacriticals in French use lowercase upper row of keys), for example, I mapped the 2 key to . The downside is I have to switch to my special keyboard to type French and remember to use the numeric keyboard for numbers. To take it a bit further I mapped other diacriticals to unused upper row keys.

PS Everything shows up fine in the post, so the person with a problem may have some kind font change/corruption problem. Just a guess.

---
Hermosa Beach, CA USA



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: JRDN on Mar 05, '10 09:42:27AM

This makes things so much easier!
Would there be a way to get this for the Dvorak layout though??



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: robogobo on Mar 05, '10 09:50:08AM

GREAT HINT. you just saved me a daily headache.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: BradMacPro on Mar 05, '10 10:52:31AM

PopChar from ergonis software is my favorite tool for this outside the Glyphs palette in Adobe InDesign.

OK, not free, $30 in fact, but very handy.

http://www.ergonis.com/products/popcharx/



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 05, '10 11:09:49AM

Useful to know, but I never had any issue with the traditional Mac dead keys.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: saint.duo on Mar 05, '10 01:16:15PM

I've never heard of typing accented characters in Windows this way before. Looking around it seems this is the behavior of the "US International" keyboard layout in windows, but not the "US English" layout. So it makes sense that the "US International - PC" layout on a Mac does the same thing.
Great tip in both cases.

---
duo



[ Reply to This | # ]
Re: 10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Uncle Asad on Mar 05, '10 01:51:21PM

On 10.5 and below, you can install Ranier Brockerhoff's US International keyboard layout: http://www.brockerhoff.net/usi/

It almost sounds like the keyboard Apple included in 10.6 is Brockerhoff's, but it's not quite clear from the text there.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: lemac on Mar 05, '10 04:57:37PM

Great hint but in French we loose the ability of using the apostrophe for elision. For example: le + oiseau = l'oiseau is no longer possible. Any work around?



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: JuanGabriel on Mar 05, '10 09:12:11PM

Just type " ' + space " : l'oiseau (just typed this using the US-PC setting). No space shows up, it just sets the accent free.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: lemac on Mar 08, '10 12:53:44PM

thanks JuanGabriel, this solves the case...



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Angostura on Mar 06, '10 01:27:31AM

Alternatively, if you are in Snow Leopard, you can set up global text substitutions in the Language > Text Pref Pane to map any combination of characters onto whatever character you would like.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: pietervw on Mar 09, '10 08:26:39AM

I have tried these global text substitutions a while ago as well, but they are not as useful as the right keyboard layout. If I set up a rule that said that any ' I typed followed by an 'a' should be replaced with , it only did so if I also typed a space afterwards. So then to type an accented letter I should type the keysequence previously defined, then space, then backspace and then I could continue typing the word. Not ideal.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: Nanuk on Mar 06, '10 05:10:16AM

Great hint, but watchout for Hallowen, err, Hallowe'en.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: slferris on Mar 06, '10 08:31:59AM

Good hint, but it doesn't work quite right for me with the umlaut using the double-quote ("). In order to use the double-quote followed by a vowel, I have to hold the shift-key down to get the double-quote which then places an umlaut over a capitalized vowel. How can I get it to work with lower case vowels?

Thanks



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: xplora on Mar 07, '10 10:40:29AM

This is all about keyboard mappings, and doesn't work in New Zealand since the Maori (flat line above character, like the tilde but flat) accent does not exist as a normal type-able character, in fact neither does some of the other accents.

One other problem is using the quote (") character will cause problems with actually trying to insert quotes.

In the end the option key trick is actually better since you just treat it like a shift key.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: lsequeir on Mar 08, '10 04:24:03AM

I am Portuguese, and I have used several combinations of keyboards/layouts, and I don't see the point of this hint. My current MBP has a keyboard with the Portuguese layout, but...

In Mac OS X, you can choose any keyboard layout you want to use, regardless of the physical keyboard.

With the Portuguese, Spanish, or French layouts, you CAN input accented characters by pressing the accent and then the vowel.

Like , , , , , , , , , whatever. I have just typed these using the Portuguese layout, by doing, er, what is impossible to do?!

Mind you, I actually prefer the US layout, and I use it most of the time, although obviously some keys input different characters from what is inscribed on them. Changing from one layout to another is just a quick selection from the menu bar. When using the US layout, then I use the alt-e, etc., combinations (actually, these go as far back as System 7, or earlier...)

---
Luís



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: pietervw on Mar 09, '10 08:22:35AM

I guess it all comes down to where you bought your MBP then. I am Dutch and have a Dutch physical keyboard, but I was really struggling with this for a while before I figured out how to enter them the fast way. I use Dutch, English and Spanish on a regular basis and I can assure you (just tried again) that on my keyboard, with the Dutch keyboard layout there is no single button I can press to get a little yellow character indicating that the next character I'll type will be accented.

You're right though about the Spanish/Portuguese layout: if I press [ in the Spanish layout I can immediately afterwards press that letter. However then I get an on a key that says ; and :, and most symbols are in different places.. So as I said in the hint itself, for me the US layout is brilliant but you have to see for yourself if it fits your needs.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: adrien on Mar 09, '10 05:41:06AM

no circumflex ????



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: roo.bookaroo on Mar 09, '10 06:27:43AM

Good hint.
My simple but stupid method was to write my text on my US keyboard, in American, then switch the keyboard to the French keyboard and go back and replace each vowel with its accented French equivalent from the French keyboard.

What the hint-giver forgot to mention is the ^ accent. It will work in the same way, but to get the ^ you have to use the shift key then type the vowel, same as for the umlaut in .
The ^ is even more difficult to get with the French keyboard.
ROO.BOOKAROO



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: rcournoyer on Mar 09, '10 07:22:51AM

On my keyboard to get the umlaut I need to type option + u. For example, is formed with option u + o.

Option " gives



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: kne5017894 on Mar 10, '10 06:48:25AM

How do you apply this to OS X 10.4.11
Tks



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.6: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: pietervw on Mar 15, '10 05:55:36AM
Check http://www.macworld.com/article/147039/2010/03/accentinput.html from Macworld for a download link (at the end of the article) for users of 10.5 and previous versions, there you can download the keyboard layout.
Edited on Mar 15, '10 05:56:24AM by pietervw


[ Reply to This | # ]
Many thanks
Authored by: liamascorcaigh on Apr 15, '10 03:09:15AM

A terrific hint. I write in Irish and I need to use the acute accent all the time. Yours is a very elegant solution. Go raibh mle maith agat. Many thanks.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.7: Type accented characters without the Option key
Authored by: jamieryer on Jun 15, '12 06:02:49AM

So here is an even easier way, System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources > check 'keyboard & character' viewer. This will enable the ability for you to press and hold down the letter you wish to accent and a popup with the various accented letters will appear that you can quickly select. (Works with Lion only)



[ Reply to This | # ]