A Beginner’s Guide to Typing Special Characters

If you are a new Mac user, you may not know how to type special characters like vowels with accent marks, symbols or emoji. You can easily get accent marks and other letter variations by holding down the key on the keyboard and selecting the variation. For symbols and emoji, a simple keyboard shortcut brings up a searchable list of all available characters.

Comments: 10 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Typing Special Characters”

    John
    2 years ago

    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. For example, if i press and hold the c key, I get ccccccccccc or the n key gives me nnnnnnnnnnn

    I never see the drop downs you mentioned. Is there something that needs to be done with System Preferences or what. Same thing with control + Command + Space. it goes to searching my mac. I’m sure I’m missing something, but have no idea what that might be. Great videos, Gary. I watch them almost everyday. Thank You!

    2 years ago

    John: Are you using an older version of macOS?

    Karen
    2 years ago

    I am using Mac OS 10.13.3 (the latest) the letter holding shortcut works for me, but I had to add the emoji shortcut to the application shortcuts as it was not there—nothing was assigned to control+Command+Space. After adding, I had to restart the computer for it the shortcut to work.

    2 years ago

    Karen: You shouldn’t have to have the Control+Command+Space shortcut to System Preferences at all. It is hard-wired. I’d try removing it, restarting, and see what happens. Have you tried it in different apps? Maybe the app you were using overrides it for some reason?

    Lewis Overton
    2 years ago

    Same problem as John on 10.13.3 Macbook Pro. Holding key repeats. No symbols are offered.

    2 years ago

    Lewis (and John): There is a way to disable it, using a Terminal command. Any chance you remember doing that in the past? Google “ApplePressAndHoldEnabled” and you’ll see the command. If not, I would try a restart to see if that helps.

    Chris Long
    2 years ago

    I have a similar but different problem. Holding down a key brings up the accented characters, but CTRL-CMD-Space does not bring up the window of special characters. I’ve tried in Pages, Word and Mail but no luck. Tried a restart, but no difference. OSX 10.13.3.

    2 years ago

    Chris: Some things to try: Try a restart. Check to see if you have any unusual keyboard settings in Input Sources. Also, in Keyboard, turn on Show Keyboard and Emoji Viewers in Menu Bar and then try using that. Then bring up the “Show Emoji & Symbols” from the new control in the menu bar. Use the button at the very top right of this to then switch modes. Try each mode, switch to it and closing the window and then seeing if Command+Control+Space works. Keep playing around with it. If all else fails, Genius Bar.

    Laraine
    2 years ago

    Thanks, John. They worked for me. But I usually do the accent you put over the e in café by pressing the control, then the e and the e again. And for an umlaut I press control u and then whatever character I want the umlaut over. When I got my first Mac this is one of the things I had to learn in a hurry, along with how to do a proper ellipsis and, of course, proper typographical quotes and apostrophes; foot and inch marks weren’t automatically turned into typographical quotes or apostrophes.

    Ralph
    2 years ago

    thank you the suggestion for musical symbols was very helpful

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