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Though keyboards have have lots of characters on them, there are hundreds more that can’t be represented on a standard keyboard. There are ways to insert uncommon characters into Windows, such as using Alt codes, but these slow down your typing rhythm and can be hard to remember.
If you rarely have need to insert foreign characters, then you can probably get by with workarounds like Alt codes or by pasting them in from Word. However, if you need to regularly type accented vowels or other special characters, there’s a better way.
To access foreign characters on your English keyboard, all you have to do is add a new keyboard to Windows. You can do this by typing Language into the Start Menu to open Language & Region Settings. Under Languages, click English (United States), then Options.
Now, under Keyboards, click Add a keyboard and look for United States-International. Once this is done, you’ll notice a new entry in the bottom-right System Tray of your Taskbar. This lets you easily check which keyboard you’re using (ENG US is the standard keyboard, while ENG INTL is the international one). You can switch these in one tap with Windows Key + Space.
While using the international keyboard, you’ll still type in English as normal, but have special shortcuts to type accented characters. Hold the right Alt key and type a character (such as !, ?, a, or n) to type alternate versions. This allows you to type foreign characters (such as ¡, ¿, á, or ñ for the above) with just one extra key.
You can also type these by holding the apostrophe or tilde keys as you would the Shift key and typing the letter that you want to add an accent to. Check out a chart of every character you can type in the international keyboard for more.
This should make the typing parts of learning a new language a lot easier! Do you often find yourself needing to insert foreign characters? Let us know if you’ll be adding this keyboard!
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