How to insert special (foreign) characters into documents?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by extraextra, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. extraextra macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2006
    Sorry for being such a n00b, but I've never needed to use special characters on a Mac before. :eek:

    I'm doing a report in French, and I have NO IDEA how to get special characters like the e with the accent, etc., into my documents. (I'm using Microsoft Word) I changed the language to French, which didn't seem to do anything... ? (I'm from the US and using a US keyboard, if that makes any difference, so I didn't want to change the keyboard language)

    I'm sure it's something obvious and easy, and I'm just totally missing it.

    Thanks for any help!
  2. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    OK, the é is done by pressing option-E and then the e again.

    The ñ is done by pressing option-N and then the n again.

    The ü is done by pressing option-u and then the u again.

    All of those option-(key) commands will show the accent above a highlighted box, the next key you press will get the accent above it.

    So option-u and then o gives you ö.

    A good helpful hint is to go into the International preferences in System Prefs, select the Input Menu option, down the bottom of this window is a box marked "show input menu in menu bar" - select this option - then from the top part of that list select "Keyboard Viewer," now close Sys Prefs.

    You should see your national flag on the menu bar now. Click on it and click the keyboard viewer. A small keyboard will appear on your desktop that, as you hold down option or shift or shift-option together, will show you what characters will be typed with which key combinations.

    So, with the keyboard viewer open, when you hold down option you will see the ´ symbol where the e key is. Any symbol that can be applied to a letter will be highlighted in orange.
  3. kretzy macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2004
    Canberra, Australia
    What Chundles said is spot on but just so you know, you can also go to the Insert menu in word and go down to Symbol. From there you can most probably find what you need. The option-letter option is much quicker though.
  4. extraextra thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2006
    I did that, but it just gave me a bunch of symbols and very few characters? I'll have to look at it again.

    Thank you for your help, Chundles!
  5. theBB macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    When you click on the flag, you can also select character palette and view a lot of symbols and characters to use. For me, it is a selling point of Mac over Windows, where it is much harder to use foreign letters.
  6. Ish macrumors 68000


    Nov 30, 2004
    It can be harder, but I must admit that it was the one thing I liked about Windows because you can assign your own keystrokes to frequently used characters. You only need then, for example, to hold one or more of the control keys and press a letter. Can't remember now though how it is done. Maybe a search would come up with some instructions.
  7. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    Since 1989, I have entered non-English characters into non-Microsoft documents on my Macs in just this way. I find that Word overrides the standard keystrokes for non-English characters and necessitates the use of Word's Insert > Symbol... palette.

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