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ARCHIVED: In Mac OS X, how can I type foreign language characters?

In Mac OS X, to type many common diacritics and accent marks, you can use the Option key. For others, you may need to switch keyboard layouts or install additional fonts. You can use the Keyboard Viewer with both methods to see what characters you can currently type.

On this page:


Option key combinations

This table shows the most common keystrokes for typing accented characters. Keystrokes with the [letter] placeholder require two sets of keypresses; first, type the Option key combination, and then type the letter you want to modify.

Keystroke Character
Option-e [letter] acute (e.g., á)
Option-` [letter] grave (e.g., è)
Option-i [letter] circumflex (e.g., ô )
Option-u [letter] umlaut or dieresis (e.g., ï )
Option-n [letter] tilde (e.g.,  ñ )
Option-q oe ligature ( œ )
Option-c cedilla ( ç )
Option-Shift-/ (forward slash) upside-down question mark ( ¿ )
Option-1 (the number 1) upside-down exclamation point ( ¡ )

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Keyboard layout configuration

To configure additional keyboard layouts in Mac OS X 10.5 or later:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences... .

  2. In System Preferences, from the View menu, select Language & Text (10.6 and later) or International (10.5).

  3. From the Input Sources tab (10.6 and later) or Input Menu tab (10.5), in the list of languages and keyboard layouts, check the ones you would like to use. If you would like to use the Keyboard Viewer, check it near the top of the list. For details, see Using the Keyboard Viewer.

  4. Close System Preferences.

Once you have chosen other keyboard layouts, a flag will appear on the right side of the menu bar representing the current layout. To use a different layout, click the flag, and then select it from the pull-down menu. In 10.6 and later, if you click Keyboard & Character Viewer, but no additional languages, it will display the Character Viewer icon instead of a flag.

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Using the Keyboard Viewer

You can use the Keyboard Viewer to see how modifier keys and different keyboard layouts affect the characters you type:

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences... .

  2. In System Preferences, from the View menu, select Language & Text (10.6 and later) or International (10.5).

  3. Select the Input Sources tab (10.6 and later) or Input Menu tab (10.5), and then check Keyboard & Character Viewer (10.6 and later) or Keyboard Viewer (10.5). A flag or the Character Viewer icon should appear in the menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen. The type of flag you see depends on the default language you select.

  4. Click the new icon in the menu bar, and from the menu that drops down, select Show Keyboard Viewer.

The Keyboard Viewer window contains a virtual keyboard that shows the characters associated with different keys. Here, you can see what characters are created when you hold down modifier keys like Option, Shift, and Command.

Many fonts in OS X contain special characters for additional diacritics. To access these special characters:

  1. Within the application you are currently using, open the Font panel (usually from a Show Fonts option in the application's menus).

  2. Click the gear widget button: 
    gear widget button


  3. From the menu that appears, select Characters... .

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This is document anhf in domain all.
Last modified on December 05, 2012.

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