Well, the good news is that special language characters are incredibly easy to do on a Mac. Once you get started you’ll see that it follows a simple pattern, making it easy to remember your favourites and to work out the less frequently used characters on the fly when you need them. When you truly get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to another operating system.
Why Learn Shortcuts For Accents?
The beauty of these shortcuts is that you’ll never need to switch keyboards again. Stay in whichever keyboard you prefer for everyday use and add accents when required. No more messing around with the character map either!
Trust me, it’s far easier to stick with a QUERTY keyboard than it is to change to an AZERTY keyboard. Plus, if you’ve changed to a different keyboard you still need to remember where they put the accents you’re looking for.
The key to remembering all of these patterns is realising that it follows a regular scheme. Each accent type is associated with a letter it’s often used with in writing. For instance, ´ is associated with e because Ã© is more common than Ã¡ or Ã³, while ¨ is associated with u. Obviously, this won’t always be the most common association, since languages are quite varied in accent usage, but it will eventually help you to recall which accent goes with which key.
The Shortcut Format
All of these shortcuts are built with the same keystroke pattern: You type and hold OPTION followed by the key for the accent type, then the letter you’d like with that accent.
For instance, the key to remember for the acute accent is e. Hold OPTION and press e, then type the character you want with the accent. So, OPTION and e followed by e gives you Ã©, while OPTION and e and a gives you Ã¡. To write it as a capital, you’d use the shift when typing the letter. It’s a two part operation, so you’d type OPTION-e, followed by SHIFT-e to get Ã‰.
For some characters, you just need to hold OPTION and press the letter. For capitals, use OPTION-SHIFT-your choice.
Adding Accents Marks On Letters & Other Foreign Characters
Here’s the accent shortcuts in brief examples.
Acute Accent ´ – Ã¡ Ã© Ã Ã³ Ãº
OPTION e followed by a vowel.
Grave Accent ` – Ã Ã¨ Ã¬ Ã² Ã¹
OPTION ` followed by a vowel.
Umlaut/TrÃ©ma ¨ – Ã¤ Ã« Ã¯ Ã¶ ü Ã¿
OPTION u followed by a vowel or y.
Circumflex Ë†- Ã¢ Ãª Ã® Ã´ Ã»
OPTION i followed by a vowel.
Tilde Ëœ – Ã± Ãµ Ã£
OPTION n followed by n, o or a.
Cedilla/Cedille – Ã§
OE ligature Å“
AE ligature Ã¦
Spanish/French Quotation Marks « »
OPTION \ and OPTION SHIFT \.
Upside Down Exclamation Mark ¡
Upside Down Question Mark ¿
OPTION ? (Which is really OPTION SHIFT /).
Euro Symbol â‚¬
OPTION SHIFT 2.
British Pound £
Cent Symbol ¢
Yen Symbol ¥
More Methods & Symbols
There are plenty more symbols to be found this way. Mac OS X help pages suggest using the keyboard viewer to find new combinations. To set this up, do to Apple Menu > System Preferences > International.
Then ensure Character Palette and Keyboard Viewer are turned on.
To open Keyboard Viewer, go to the international flag on the right of your menu bar and choose Show Keyboard Viewer.
Now, you’ll be able to type and hold OPTION and see all the shortcut possibilities. It’s also an easy reminder if you forget one of your favourites.
Character Map might also come in handy if you’ve forgotten the shortcuts.
More Mac OS X Shortcuts & Tips
Obviously you’re a fan of MacOS shortcuts and language settings, so here’s some more great articles you’ll love.
- Mac OS Shortcut Cheat Sheet [PDF]
- Mac OS Firefox Shortcuts Cheat Sheet [PDF]
- Macnifying OS X: Manage Foreign Languages On Your Mac
- How To Add New Shortcuts to Mac OS X with Spark
- How To Master The Power of Mac Shortcut Keys
If you’ve got any great tricks for managing multiple languages in Mac OS X, let us know in the comments!
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