Links:

FHUHS French:

FHUHS Spanish:

Benson Pages:

Castleton Pages:

FHGS Pages:

Orwell Pages:

Typing Accents

ñ
á
ü
è
í
õ
ê
ú
ã
î
ó
¿
¡
ç

It’s not difficult to type accents on the computer after you have set a couple of settings. Macintosh computers have been able to type accents without any configuration changes since the very first version of the OS in 1984. On Windows it’s not hard to type them once you make the change below.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to use Microsoft Word’s input methods! Use the native operating system methods on this page. That way you can type accents in any program, including a web browser.

Windows-based PCs

This is only one of several ways to get accents on the correct letters in Spanish when using a PC running Windows. On Windows, programs like Microsoft Word have their own special codes for typing accents, but those codes won’t work if you’re entering text in a web browser. These instructions will work in any program including Word and a web browser. The instructions depend upon the version of Windows installed on your computer.

For versions of Windows before XP

(Why would you still be running something this old?)

  1. Click on the Start menu and select Control Panels.
  2. When the control panels window opens, double-click on the Keyboard icon.
  3. Depending upon the version of windows you have, you should see one or two tabs across the top of the window. One of them should be Input Locales. Click that.
  4. In the part of the window labeled Installed Input locales it’s quite likely that your computer will say English [United States] US. Click the Properties button. A small window will open.
  5. In the pop-up list in the new window, select United States-International. and click OK
  6. Now click Apply in the Keyboard properties window.

For Windows-XP and Later

  1. Click on the Start menu and select Control Panels.
  2. When the control panels window opens, double-click on the Regional and Language Options icon.
  3. You should see a few tabs across the top of the window. One of them should be Languages. Click that.
  4. You should now see a button Details. Click that. Another dialog box will open up.
  5. In the part of the window labeled Installed Services it’s quite likely that your computer will say something like English [United States] US. Click the Add button. A small window will open.
  6. In the pop-up list labeled Keyboard layout/IME in the new window, select United States-International. and click OK
  7. Now click Apply. The top window should close, and you can click OK or Apply in the Regional and Language Options window. Your computer is now configured to use the US-International keyboard.

Note that I haven’t used a Windows box since XP. I’m told these instructions are essentially consistent with later versions, but I don’t have any way to verify them at the moment.

Typing Accents in Windows

Once you have made the change above and configured your Windows PC to use the US International keyboard, here’s how to actually type the accents and other special Spanish characters.

¿ : press ctrl + alt + ?

¡ : press ctrl + alt + !

ñ : press shift-~ (tilde – that’s the key in the upper left corner of the keyboard on the same key as the backtick), release both keys and then press n

For vowels with an accent : press the single quote key (next to the return/enter key) –nothing will appear on the screen * now press the vowel you want.

What if you want a single quote character? (‘) Easy. Press the single quote key and then anything OTHER than a vowel. (most likely the ‘s’, right?)

Typing Accents on Macintosh

Accents on the Macintosh are easy and consistent across all versions of the operating system (whether OS9 or OSX, and all the way back to the first version of the MacOS in 1984). You do not need to configure anything in advance–you just need to use the keyboard sequences below.

To type:

¿ – press and hold the option and shift keys together and then type the question mark (?)

¡ – press and hold the option key and type 1 (one–the same key as the regular exclamation mark)

ñ – press option-n and release, then type ‘n’ (for Portuguese ã, and õ, just press ‘a’ or ‘o’ instead of ‘n’)

ü – press and hold the option key and type the ‘u’, release both keys, and then type the ‘u’ again (you can also put the umlaut character over any other vowel for German, etc. by pressing that vowel instead of ‘u’)

For any vowel with an accute accent (á, é, í, ó, ú), press and hold the option key and then type the ‘e’ key. Release. Now type the vowel you want. If you want the capital version (Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú) just add the shift key when you type the vowel.

For our suffering French friends who need a few additional characters, here’s how to type them:

ç – press option-c

Ç – press option-shift-c

For vowels with the “grave” accent (à, è, ì ò, ù) press and hold the option key and tap the ‘~’ key (in the upper left corner of the keyboard), release both keys, and then tap the vowel you want.

For vowels with the circumflex (â, ê, î, ô, û) press and hold the option key and tap the ‘i’ key, release both keys, and then tap the vowel you want.

Type on your Mac as if it were a PC!

There is also a US-International keyboard map for OSX which makes typing accents across OSX, Windows and Chrome nearly identical. To enable it for use: System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Input Sources. Under the left column, press the plus sign (+). A new sheet will drop down. In that sheet it’s likely that “English” will appear at the top of the list on the left. On the right are all of the options for English keyboards. Add the “U.S. International PC” keyboard. You will probably also want to enable the display of the Input menu in the menubar by clicking “Show input menu in the menu bar”.

(Parenthetically, if you work in Latin or any language that needs the macron, it’s available by adding the “U.S. Extended” keyboard. I find that I switch back and forth between the Extended and the International PC keyboards a lot.)

Typing accents on iOS (iPad and iPhone)

iOS includes several international keyboards which actually update the layout of the onscreen keyboard, but you don’t need any of these to include the accented characters and punctuation commonly used in European languages.

To type:

Any accented vowel – Tap and hold the vowel in the onscreen keyboard. A selection of alternate accented versions of that vowel will appear. Drag your finger to the desired accented character.

¿ – Tap the punctuation/number key (.?123). Now tap and hold the ? key.

¡ – Tap the punctuation/number key (.?123). Now tap and hold the ! key.

ñ – Tap and hold the ‘n’ key. Drag to the ‘ñ’.

For our suffering French friends who need a few additional characters, here’s how to type them:

ç – Tap and hold the ‘c’, then drag to the ‘ç’.

Ç – Tap the shift key, then tap and hold the ‘C’.

Typing Accents on a Google Chromebook

Typing accents on a Chromebook is quite easy, but you first have to turn on the International keyboard.

  1. In the lower right of the task bar, click your user account icon to display the settings menu.
  2. Click (US) Keyboard. The keyboard panel will slide into view.
  3. Click “Customize languages and input… A new browser tab will open where you will make the changes.
  4. In the left of the dialog, it will probably say “English (United States)”. In the right of the dialog, you will see a list of custom keyboard options. Click “US international keyboard”.
  5. Click “Done”.

Now that the International keyboard is turned on, just make sure you’ve selected it and that “INTL” shows to the left of your user account icon. From this point on, you only have to type the stuff below.

Note that the plus sign (+) you see below should be interpreted as “and while continuing to hold the previously mentioned key, now simultaneously press the following key”. You aren’t actually going to be typing a plus sign.

Now, to type:

¿ : press right alt + ?

¡ : press right alt + !

ñ : press right alt + n

: press right alt + 5

ç : press right alt + , (comma)

ß : press right alt + s

« : press right alt + [ (left bracket)

» : press right alt + ] (right bracket)

For vowels with an acute accent (´) : There are two methods:

  1. Press and release the single quote key (next to the return/enter key) –nothing will appear on the screen, now press the vowel you want. (this method is identical to the Windows US International input method, as well as the Mac OSX US International input method, so it is probably second nature to many users.)
  2. You can use the right alt key as a modifier. Press right alt and then the vowel you want to carry the acute accent.

In method one (1.) above, what if you want a single quote character? (‘) Easy. Press the single quote key and then the spacebar.

For vowels with a grave accent : press and release the back tick key (`) in the upper left of the keyboard, then press the vowel you want.

For vowels with a circumflex (^) press right shift + 6, release, and then press the vowel you want. (Easy to remember since the circumflex is shift-6)

For vowels with an umlaut (¨) : press shift + ‘ (as if you were accessing the double quote (“), release, then press the vowel you want.

In current versions of Chrome OS, you can also access ä, ü, and ö, by using the right alt key as a modifier and pressing q, y, and p respectively. I don’t find that particularly intuitive, but the q is above the a, the y is to the left of the u, and the p to the right of the o if you find that more convenient.

If these Chrome instructions don’t work for you, try the following:

  • in the address bar, type “about:policy” and then hit the return key.
  • copy and paste the resulting information into an email and send it to me. We may have to ask that your local IT people adjust one of the settings to allow you to switch to an alternate keyboard.

Typing Unicode on a Chromebook—including the true ellipsis (…)

Ok, this has nothing to do with world languages per se, but I finally figured out how to type the true ellipsis on a Chromebook! There is no easy way—rather, you have to use the full on unicode escape sequence.

Type Ctl-Shift-u

A little underlined u will appear. Now type the unicode UTF-8 code for the ellipsis which is 2026 and press return.

If you’d like to see other Unicode characters that would be accessible via this method, see this Unicode Consortium document.