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Typing ° on laptop.
May 17, 2011 6:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I type the degree sign (°) on a laptop without copying+pasting?

So I use the degree sign fairly often and on my desktop I could always just use Alt-0176. However with my laptop I don't have the numpad so Alt-0176 doesn't work for me. Is there another quick way to type it? I don't want to have to copy+paste it every time (like I am currently doing) or use the Insert Symbol tool in Word.

If there isn't a quick shortcut, is there a way I could remap a key or something to have a shortcut?

I'm using Windows 7.
posted by Deflagro to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
In Word, hold down Ctrl and press 2. Release Ctrl and hit the spacebar.
posted by KRS at 6:55 PM on May 17, 2011


Are you sure you don't have a numpad overlayed on your keyboard somewhere? Most laptop keyboards do. If so, you would hit NumLock, and then you can do your regular Alt-0176 using the numbers on the numpad. On my laptop keyboard, My NumLock is Fn+ScrLk.
posted by gatorbiddy at 7:03 PM on May 17, 2011


The HTML entity is °
posted by delmoi at 7:24 PM on May 17, 2011


I expect AutoHotKey would easily be up to this job.
posted by flabdablet at 7:46 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ideally I want this fix to work universally so I can use it in Word, Notepad, Firefox, etc. So thanks KRS for that for Word (turns out you also have to hit Shift to get that to work because it is Alt-@, Spacebar), but it doesn't work in Firefox.

gatorbiddy: "Are you sure you don't have a numpad overlayed on your keyboard somewhere?"

I haven't been able to find one. I'm using a HP Pavilion dv6. I can't find a picture of the keyboard mine has, but it doesn't have a ScrLk and I haven't been able to find anything in help on a numpad overlay.
posted by Deflagro at 7:48 PM on May 17, 2011


Most laptop keyboards have a Fn key. Usually the "Fn" lettering is in a different color (often a darkish grey-blue) and usually there will be a bunch of other keys with alternate labelling in that same color. Holding down the Fn key will give any of those keys its alternate function.

The most common way to implement a number pad on a laptop keyboard that doesn't have a real one is for the top-row 7, 8, 9 to be the number pad's 7, 8, 9; U, I and O become 4, 5 and 6; J, K and L become 1, 2 and 3, and M becomes 0. These alternate codes are accessible via the Fn key, and also become active if you hit Num Lock (not ScrLk). Num Lock itself might only be accessible via Fn.

Are you sure your keyboard has no such alternate labellings?
posted by flabdablet at 7:57 PM on May 17, 2011


Are you sure your keyboard has no such alternate labellings?

Apple removed theirs in 2007 or so on the MacBook Pro. Wouldn't surprise me if other manufacturers are doing the same.
posted by sbutler at 8:02 PM on May 17, 2011


8I would add to gatorbiddy, on my laptop it's 'Scroll Lk' that is the Fn key part of 'Num Lk', so it goes 'Num Lk', press-hold Alt, press-hold Fn, mj7o, release Fn, release Alt, turn off 'Num Lk'. But you can pretty much leave 'Num Lk' on as it does nothing without the Fn key and using the virtual numpad.

Deflagro, look on these keys, '789uiojklm' and see if some of them have the numbers 0-9 in some other color, or with a little icon of some sort. My keyboard has them in blue and the Fn key is also blue. You may or may not need the 'Num Lk' key depending on the keyboard. My keyboard will not do the magic Alt-0176 without using both 'Num Lk' and the Fn key combo (without 'Num Lk' the Fn numbers act like the arrow keys on a full keyboard).
posted by zengargoyle at 8:02 PM on May 17, 2011


No, the fn key is not a different color and there are no other alternate labeling on the keys (aside from the normal Shift keys). I tried holding down fn and hitting "uio" just to see if it worked and was not labeled, however it doesn't.

Here are pictures of the keyboard I took with my cell phone. Pic1 Pic2
posted by Deflagro at 8:19 PM on May 17, 2011


FWIW my keyboard has a fn key, but no num lk...all my fn options are break, prt sc, sys rq, and then icons that mean hibernate, output to monitor, brightness adjust....etc.

So I believe that you are capable of looking for num lk and identifying that it is not there.
posted by nile_red at 8:23 PM on May 17, 2011


This HP support site says it might be Fn + numlock that enables the number pad. So maybe try your uio test again?
posted by cabingirl at 8:31 PM on May 17, 2011


In Pic2 what's that key above "+/=" ?
posted by MikeMc at 8:45 PM on May 17, 2011


Oh and FWIW on my Lenovo it's Fn+Insert/NmLk. Most of my function keys pull double duty.
posted by MikeMc at 8:47 PM on May 17, 2011


Deflagro, does that little 'lock' button above the '=' sign happen to have a number in it? Does it lock the screen or something? That sort of 'lock' icon is often used for Num Lock/Caps Lock, that might be worth trying.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:48 PM on May 17, 2011


MikeMc: "In Pic2 what's that key above "+/=" ?"

It's the lock key. It locks the computer and goes back to the Welcome screen where I put in my password to log back in. Sorry the picture is blurry.
posted by Deflagro at 8:51 PM on May 17, 2011


is there a way I could remap a key or something to have a shortcut?

Yes, remapping software will do this. I agree with flabdablet's suggestion of AutoHotkey -- it will allow you to set up a hotkey/shortcut or remap a key to output the degree symbol. It has a lot of other features listed on the page that may be way more than what you want, but be sure to check the quick-start tutorial.

There's also HoeKey which is even tinier but still powerful and also allows custom hotkeys/remapping. (I think both HoeKey and AutoHotkey are useful, but found it easier to start with HoeKey -- YMMV.)

Both are free. With either, you'll need to edit a file using a text editor and add a command to create your keyboard hotkey/shortcut or to remap a key. You'll probably also want to delete some of the pre-configured hotkeys.

I just tested the following hotkey examples on Vista (sorry, no Win 7 machine handy) and they both worked fine:

In AutoHotkey, this example will create a hotkey so that typing Ctrl-Alt-d creates the ° degree symbol (i.e. it is a shortcut for Alt-0176):
^!d::
Send {Alt Down}{Numpad0}{Numpad1}{Numpad7}{Numpad6}{Alt Up}
In HoeKey, this will create the same hotkey (Ctrl-Alt-d creating the ° degree symbol):
^@d=Keys|\a\0\1\7\6\A
Obviously you can change the keyboard shortcut to fit your preferences, and/or add an additional shortcut for ° for when you're posting on the web.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 10:08 PM on May 17, 2011


OK, I just checked the user guide and it's really truly true - HP really truly does make a laptop without any kind of numeric keypad; one more black mark against that company in my personal Book of Nongs.

Just install AutoHotkey. You will find other uses for it too.
posted by flabdablet at 2:01 AM on May 18, 2011


Or do this ridiculous dance. Your call.
posted by flabdablet at 2:08 AM on May 18, 2011


Another wildcard option that I'm a bit unsure of on Windows machines (esp. Win 7). Check out Typing in random Unicode code points. This uses a Unicode extension to the IME (Input Method Editor) that is normally used to type languages that don't fit the standard US-ASCII keyboard. This method *should* let you hit Left-Alt+Shift and then type the hexadecimal code of the character you wish to enter (° is 00b0). This may be more work at first, but should let you type any other Unicode character the exact same way. (℃ is 2103, ℉ is 2109, ☣ is 2623, etc.)

Once you get the hang of using an IME it's not that awkward. I'm not sure if Windows has any simpler versions of Unicode IME, my Linux iBus IME has a shortcut version that supports rfc1345 (° is &DG) and a full Unicode version that is Ctrl-U XXXX for when you need the full Unicode range.

I would try the IME route over AutoHotKey because it's part of the OS, will probably work everywhere, and instantly give you access to all characters through a common method rather than trying to add some custom ad hoc per character custom key binding.

(and WOW, HP is really evil stupid for this...)
posted by zengargoyle at 4:47 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: "OK, I just checked the user guide and it's really truly true - HP really truly does make a laptop without any kind of numeric keypad; one more black mark against that company in my personal Book of Nongs."

Not only that, they hilariously seem to be unaware of the [Windows]+L shortcut so wasted a dedicated key to its function.
posted by turkeyphant at 4:53 AM on May 18, 2011


You could try one of these tools as an alternative to autohotkey.
posted by onya at 4:55 AM on May 18, 2011


You might try holding down shift and alt and then typing 8.
posted by Killick at 7:51 AM on May 18, 2011


Thanks for the help! AutoHotKey works great! When flabdablet first suggested it I tried it, but had trouble with it because I was trying to get it to use the Unicode. The script Rangefinder 1.4 posted works great! Is there anyway to get it to stop opening the AutoHotKey website when I execute the script?

(also, shit+alt+8 didn't work, Killick)
posted by Deflagro at 9:58 AM on May 18, 2011


alt 248 - hold down the alt key and then type in 248 on the keypad
posted by caddis at 10:28 AM on May 18, 2011


If you're just working in Word, there is the Math AutoCorrect function that you can enable. Essentially it substitutes something that you type and define for the actual symbol. The default behavior is to type '\degree ' and it becomes a '°'. You can change this to anything else such as shortening it to '\deg' to save on typing! It already has several common/useful symbols defined as well. I'm not familiar with HotKey, but auto correct makes it easy to produce the symbol and continue typing without taking your fingers away from home row position.
posted by joydivasian at 4:38 PM on May 18, 2011


Deflagro, glad you got something working for you.

Is there anyway to get it to stop opening the AutoHotKey website when I execute the script?

When you open your script file, do you see something that looks like this command?
Run, www.autohotkey.com
If so, that's what's causing the website to open. Just delete the line entirely, or comment it out by adding a semicolon in front of the line:
; Run, www.autohotkey.com
And you can do the same for other commands you don't want to execute when you load the script.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 7:16 PM on May 18, 2011


It wasn't in the script, but just having it reload the script fixed the problem. Thanks everyone!
posted by Deflagro at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2011


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