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How Do I Create a System-Wide Keyboard Shortcut for “Show Keyboard Viewer?”

Greetings: New Mac user here, with no programming experience. I’d like to know how to make a custom keyboard shortcut for the “Show Keyboard Viewer” functionality, which appears in the menu bar when you have more than one language keyboard active. (It is found in the drop-down menu under the flag for whatever language you’re using; there is no default shortcut for it, as far as I can tell). I would like this to work in all apps, and the shortcut I want to set it to is: ⇧⌥⌘K. I’d like this shortcut to toggle the “Show Keyboard Viewer” on and off, if possible.

I’d like to do this because I use this functionality a lot when I’m writing, and I would prefer to be able to toggle the viewer on and off when I need it, without having to take my hands off the keyboard. I already use the Caps Lock shortcut to switch between keyboards, and it would save me time and help me be more efficient if I also had a way to see the keyboard viewer without needing to use a mouse or track pad.

The specific reason I use this so often is that I work with foreign languages that sometimes require complicated combinations of diacritical symbols over the letters. There are too many combinations to remember or set shortcuts for, and so it is much easier to type them when I can see the keyboard, where I can preview the letter (+ diacritical symbols) that I’m about to type.

For what it’s worth, I’m aware that you can hold down a letter key and see a list of possible accent marks: that does not resolve the problem for me. And I’ve looked online for answers. The only ones I can find are from years back and they all involve different programming scripts that you need to copy into something called “Terminal.” I have no idea how this works, I have no programming experience, and I’d like to make sure that whatever I try is safe and likely to be effective.
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Nick Birgen

Comments: 2 Responses to “How Do I Create a System-Wide Keyboard Shortcut for “Show Keyboard Viewer?””

    4 weeks ago

    First, you say: “I’m aware that you can hold down a letter key and see a list of possible accent marks: that does not resolve the problem for me.” Can you explain why that wouldn’t solve the problem? Seems like it would be a much better solution for doing what you really need to do.

    But there is a way in Big Sur to set a keyboard shortcut to bring up the Accessibility Keyboard. Starting with Catalina, the actual Keyboard Viewer is gone, and you are really just accessing the Accessibility Keyboard feature. Before Catalina, we had both and it was redundant.

    Go to System Preferences, Accessibility. On the left, go down to Shortcut. Then you’ll see a list of checkboxes. Uncheck all of them except one: Accessibility Keyboard. Once you have only one, there is no need for the list of Accessibility options to come up when you trigger to the shortcut, so it goes right to that one feature.

    Now go to System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts. Go to Accessibility on the left. Then you can customize the “Show Accessibility Options” shortcut to a combination of your choosing.

    Nick Birgen
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you! The solution worked great! (The only thing is that on my Mac, it’s called “Show Accessibility controls”).

    Holding the key normally works, but not always. When I need to type in Ancient Greek, I have to use the “Greek Polytonic Keyboard,” and holding down a key does not give the range of diacritical symbols needed (not even close). For example, there are many ways in Ancient Greek to type omega (ω), all of them distinct: ώ ῴ ῶ ῷ ὼ ὠ ὦ ὧ ᾧ ᾦ (etc). Holding the key only gets you ώ.

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