9:56 am

MacMost Now 78: Typing Special Characters

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at how to use the Keyboard Viewer to easily find and insert special characters and accent marks into your text documents.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary Rosenzweig with another fresh new episode of MacMost Now.
Ever wonder how to get accent marks and special characters into your text documents? Well, it's easy to see what special characters are hidden in your keyboard when you learn how to use the keyword viewer, let's take a look.
So, to enable the keyboard viewer what you want to do is not go to the keyboard mouse preference, but instead go to the international preferences. Go to input menu, and there you'll see a couple of different options you're going to check off. One is keyboard viewer, you want to check that off, and the other is character palette. Check, both of those off, these are both different keyboards that allow you to type special characters they appear on your screen; you want to set show input menu in menu bar as well.
Okay, and once you have that set you'll get a little flag up in the menu I've got an American flag since my language on the Mac is chosen as U.S. English. Click on that and you will get the two keyboards that we selected.
So, let's first look at the keyboard viewer, this will go ahead and bring up this little palette here that allows you to actually type, but also will mimic what you do on your keyboard. For instance, here I am holding the shift key down, now when you hold the shift key down you'll see everything changed to capital letters, and also you've got the symbols above the numbers. Pull the option key down and you see all the cool symbols here, likewise for command and control if there is anything there; even combinations of characters. So, this is a simple way to see the hidden characters in your keyboard.
You can also go ahead and change the font mapping and choose one of the special symbol fonts, like Wingdings, or Webdings. So, for instance change it to that and you can see all the different characters here, what happens when you hold the shift key down, the option key down, etc. Okay, likewise if we go ahead and choose show character palette we kind of get the opposite view. We get things arranged by character types, so for instance we can look under symbols, look at arrows, and choose a different type of arrow here it will give you some information. We can go ahead and look at the currency symbol for instance if you wanted to type a pound symbol, not only can you select it out from there, but you can go ahead and get confirmation that it is indeed the pound sign, get some information about it, and if you're going to use something often you can go down here to this menu; and add to favorites and that will appear in your favorites list. And then if you select a character and want to insert it into a document all you have to do is press the insert button.
So, if you find yourself using special characters allot in your documents you probably want to enable these international keyboard palettes, and use them all the time. Hope you find this useful, and until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 3 Responses to “MacMost Now 78: Typing Special Characters”

    5/7/08 @ 11:38 am

    There’s actually an applescript to toggle it on and off for you:

    set proc_ to “/System/Library/Components/KeyboardViewer.component/Contents/SharedSupport/KeyboardViewerServer.app/Contents/MacOS/KeyboardViewerServer”
    set app_ to “KeyboardViewerServer”
    do shell script “ps -axwww | grep” & space & proc_ & space & “| grep -v grep”
    tell application app_ to quit
    on error
    do shell script proc_ & space & “> /dev/null 2>&1 &”
    end try

    Then, you can make it as an applescript application and run it from spotlight.

    Check out the macosxhints.com hint for a better explanation:


    My Mac-Tipping Blog

    3/14/10 @ 1:44 am

    Inserting “£” in a string


    iPhone Application writes data to a text file, saves it on the Documnets folder. Great that works

    If I place “£” in the string, or use [currencyStyle stringFromNumber] the text file will not be created.

    The “£” and the [currencyStyle stringFromNumber] works if the information is printed to a “New View” page on the simulator, pound and all

    Can someone please explain what happening?

      3/14/10 @ 8:26 am

      Are you talking about using the SDK to create iPhone apps. I would post that to one of the developer forums. I don’t think you’ll get an answer here as this has to do with users typing special characters into finished applications. Not developers.

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