Skip to main content

How to type special characters on Macs

How to type special characters on Macs

/

It’s incredibly simple — if you know how to do it

Share this story

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Here’s the situation: you’re typing a report for work, and you suddenly have to write the phrase “Jones née Berkowitz.” Or you are adding a phrase in Spanish and need to use the word “años.” How do you add the special characters to the letters?

Special characters (also known as diacritical marks) may be more common in certain languages, but there are plenty of circumstances in which English speakers may need to use them. But because they are so rare in English, native English speakers may not have learned how to add those marks to documents, emails, or other writings on their Macs.

Here’s how:

For access to more common diacritical marks, you just need to hold down the key for the letter you want to use until a small numbered menu appears on-screen. The menu that pops up will show all of the diacritical marks available for that letter; just type the correct number, and the letter with the mark will appear on your screen.

If you hold down the “e” key, all the available diacritical marks will appear with numbers.
If you hold down the “e” key, all of the available diacritical marks will appear with numbers.

Use the Keyboard Viewer

There are a number of other special characters that you may want to use, which you can access by pressing down the Option key on your Mac’s keyboard and then pressing the appropriate key. Not sure which key is the appropriate one? There is a Keyboard Viewer that will let you see all of the variations that you can use.

It’s simple to find the Keyboard Viewer — if you’ve got the icon for the Input Menu in your menu bar.

The icon for the Input Menu appears in the upper right menu bar.
The icon for the Input Menu appears in the upper right menu bar.

Don’t see it? Here’s how to get it into your menu bar:

Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard. Click on the Input Sources tab and look for the checkbox labeled “Show Input menu in menu bar.” If it’s not checked, then check it.

To get the Input Menu icon, you need to enable it in your Keyboard preferences.
To get the Input Menu icon, you need to enable it in your Keyboard preferences.

Click on the Input Menu icon (which will now be on the right side of your menu bar). Select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A visual of your keyboard will appear on your screen. If you press on the Option key on your keyboard, the Keyboard Viewer will show you what special characters are available if you press those keys in combination with the Option key.

The Keyboard viewer will show you available special characters....
The Keyboard viewer will show special characters....
...if you press the Options key.
...if you press the Option key.

Note: some of the keys will be outlined in orange. These are the keys we mentioned earlier, the ones that have several special characters and can be held down to see the various characters that can be used with them.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.