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It’s a small Windows program tucked away in the recesses of Windows own System32 folder. The ‘Private Character Editor’ (PCE) is almost a monochrome replica of MS Paint but with a different utility. If you want to create your own fonts or symbols then this is the tool to fire up.

An ‘out of sight’ program, it is used in conjunction with the ‘Character Map’. Through the PCE you can make your own characters (about 6,400 of them!) and insert them into documents using the ‘Character Map’. PCE provides basic drawing tools for creating and editing those characters, along some advanced options.

So let’s dig it out and understand its functions.

  1. To start the Private Character Editor, click the Start menu, and then click Run (or the Windows Key & R). In the Open box, type C:\WINDOWS\system32\eudcedit.exe
  2. PCE starts with a “˜Select Code Window’. This window associates the character you are about to create with a particular position in the Windows character library. The funny numbers are hexadecimal codes that will be allotted to your new character. Select any of the little grey boxes and click on OK.
    Note: By default, PCE uses the Unicode character set.
  3. The interface is utilitarian with a grid drawing area and the drawing toolbar on the left. You can also access the drawing tools from the “˜Tools’ menu.
  4. The grid represents the total area of a character measuring 50 x 50. Each character that you draw becomes a black and white bitmap (*.bmp).
  5. The drawing area is simple enough for a third grader to understand but the actual drawing takes a calligraphist’s hand. The illustration below shows that I am certainly not one. It takes a lot to use the mouse as a brush. Use the left mouse button to draw in black and the right one for white. But I found the best thing to be the ability to copy and paste the bitmap selections between PCE and other bitmap drawing programs like Paint.
  6. You can also use an existing character as a template to create a new character. Simply copy the existing character to the grid (Edit – Copy Character…) and then change it with the tools. The existing character can also be used as a visual guide in a Reference window next to the Edit Grid (Window – Reference).
  7. When finished with the new character, you have two options – associate the new character with a particular font family or with all fonts installed in your computer. For a specific font family, your custom character will be available exclusively from there.
  8. The final step is of course to save your hardwork! (Edit – Save Character or Save Character As…) The character gets saved into the position chosen in the “˜Select Code Window’. To save into a different position use “˜Save Character As…’

Use Your Characters

The process is the same as when using any other character. Open any application and access the Character Map through ““

(For WinXP)

Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Character Map.

(For Vista)

Click Accessories, then System Tools folder to access the Character Map.

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Alternatively, Click Start, then the Run dialog…type in charmap.exe; hit OK.

The new character can be found in the dropdown under “˜All Fonts (Private Characters)’ or under a specific font (private characters) depending upon the choice of association in Step 7. Select the character and hit copy. Now it can be pasted into any application.

A Footnote

All rules applicable to fonts also apply to the new created character. It goes for all font functions like size, bold, italic, etc. Similarly, custom characters will not be available on other computers unless they are installed there too.

Have you used this hidden tool to create a special character? Do you think that this tool will find more value if it is not treated as a hidden application?

  1. same
    November 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    good one

  2. same
    November 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    it real cool, thanks alot

  3. karen smith
    August 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    so I can scan the characters in save them and grab them with this application?

  4. Merfkin11
    July 12, 2016 at 12:29 am

    How do you know what key the new character will be bound to?

    • Saikat Basu
      July 18, 2016 at 7:11 am

      You insert them into documents using the ‘Character Map’. Remembering the shortcut keys could be a bit difficult, but you can create your own shortcut keys with tools like AutoHotKey.

  5. Shira
    May 24, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    It doos not work in internet

  6. mathew
    November 21, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Thiankyou for wonderfull info........ One more quiry can I change my windows driver icon ...... I had changed my windows icon file but not driver

  7. Artemis Fowl
    July 14, 2015 at 3:28 am

    This is an interesting insight, but I have 2 very big factors that don't work with this.

    1. All the characters have a limit of 50x50 pixels when my characters specifically require 80x100 pixels in order to be seen optimally as they would be too small to see the details - which are quite important for my language.

    2. You can NOT create any characters in colour and are restricted to monochrome/black & white characters. This is particularly difficult and annoying as it is highly imperative for each of my characters to be in colour as most of them look very similar and the colour differentiation is the key to understanding whether it's an s, k, u, or p...

    • Saikat Basu
      July 23, 2015 at 4:47 am

      Thanks for the feedback 'Artemis'. Yes, those are the limitations. But then since 2009 (this article is OLD!), lot of easier and better tools are out there for professional use.

      • Artemis Fowl
        July 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

        Okay, thank you very much Saikat for notifying me about this as I was previously unaware of the circumstances. I am quite delighted to hear that there are currently many new tools out in the world, as this very well will make my life much easier.

  8. Ehtesham Rafique
    June 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Little-known app. Very useful. Thank you.

  9. SkippyLoves
    May 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    how do you make the canvas bigger?
    My symbol keeps being too small

  10. AQ
    March 18, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Hi All
    kindly, can anyone explain the below part of the answer underneath as I am trying to import my private characters from one PC to another please.
    "unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document."

    Saikat
    April 8, 2009
    The user created fonts will work only on the machine, they were created, unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document.
    Could it be that the ‘migration’ is causing problems to the adding of fonts in the new machine?

  11. Akhil Mr
    February 7, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Thanks buddy for this amazing info......... It's great.. ...

  12. Alex
    February 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    So what I want to know is, how do you compile all your characters into a special font, so that you can type that way in, say, Microsoft Word?

  13. Lotus
    January 18, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Heh, too bad this thing does not come with instructions. I am looking at it and am able to draw but have absolutely no idea about how to create a selective font like all of those fancy created fonts out there available for download.. I just want to be able to put my own symbols in a font for use in a book or to be able to freely select it as a font and start typing. Any suggestions?

  14. a person
    December 29, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    i create one and then when i try to make another and save it the one that i created before changes to that :S

  15. Paco
    December 12, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I'm running Private Character Editor on Windows 7 and am trying to save one simple 64x64 bitmap character and it's telling me "Not enough memory. Please retry after other processes finish".

    I've made only about 120 other private characters without any problem like this and there are thousands of remaining empty blocks for other private characters. So I don't think it could be a space problem. Though I did experiment making one with just one bit filled and that one actually was able to save without the message popping up. Very strange.

    The only program that I have running at the same time is "sticky notes" so I know it's not that. I went on task manager and it didn't seem like anything was taking a huge amount of RAM.

    My Computer>Properties says I have 3GB available of RAM and I have over 200GB available on my hard drive.

    I've restarted and shut down and still the message pops up if I try again.

    Someone please help.

  16. AnimatorAmps
    July 29, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Wow cool!!! I must ask: when you have a set of characters you made and saved, can they be backed up and reinstalled to your computer after having your computer wiped out?

  17. emily
    July 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    is it on windows xp?and where do i go to find it?

    • Saikat
      July 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm

      Yes...look at Point Nos.1 of the article.

      • joshko
        February 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

        I was womdering... how ca i make mine a separate font that i can use in word or something... thanks.
        ps great thinking

  18. Victor
    April 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I was able to migrate these private characters (I have hundreds of them) to another computer. But after that I was not able to add new private characters to file (EUDC) in the new computer. Anyone knows how?

    • Saikat
      April 8, 2009 at 12:37 am

      The user created fonts will work only on the machine, they were created, unless you save them into a separate font-file and distribute it together with your document.
      Could it be that the 'migration' is causing problems to the adding of fonts in the new machine?

  19. melina
    March 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    well i dont have a notepad on my computer what do i do!!

    • Saikat
      March 17, 2009 at 9:32 am

      Notepad? I don't think I have mentioned that anywhere.If you mean that you don't have PCE in your comp, then the only solution I think is to copy the .exe file from someone else's folder and copy that into your ...\Windows\System32\ folder. You can try that out though I am not sure it will work.

  20. Mathurankan
    March 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    I think this hidden tool is a good tool. This shouldn't have been hidden in the first place. Iam using my computer for a long time and i didn't know i had a idden tool. Thanks for your help.

  21. Sean
    January 27, 2009 at 11:02 am

    OK. I get the Private Character topic but how in the heck do I *easily* use the characters I create? I find that when I drag them into IE, they just show up as a box, even though I have the characters associated with all fonts.

    If any knows how to make these accessible through an ALT+NNNN command PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!

  22. Rob
    January 18, 2009 at 3:40 am

    What the hell? How long has that been there? I noticed it the other day when I was playing with Windows 7, but I had no idea it wasn't new. Seriously, when was this introduced? XP? 2000? Not that I have any real use for this, but it's cool to know its there.

  23. Tony
    January 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think that this has it's uses, but as you said, if the character isn't present on other computers, it's only of use internally.

    • Saikat
      January 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Tony,

      Yes, as with all fonts this is a limitation. But it can be used as an embedded font in pdf files and xps (ie. Microsoft’s new electronic paper format)files.

  24. Hari
    January 12, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Wonderful!
    Oh! why didn't you let the world know about this earlier? :)
    But, seriously, this is what I'd been asking a lot of people about. Thanks!

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