Special Characters in Word on OS X
September 10, 2007 9:40 AM   Subscribe

How do I easily insert special characters in Word on Mac OS X?

Being a recent Mac convert, I haven't yet become 100% comfortable with OSX. I'm looking for an easy way to insert special characters (specifically, German characters such as umlauts). In Word on Windows XP, I was able to just do Ctrl+Shift+: and then type the letter. So far on OS X, the only way I've found is to fire up the character palatte and use that.

Is there a better way to do this?
posted by deansfurniture5 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Option + letters.

u = umlaut
e = ' accent
` = `accent
i = circumflex


Option+u u = ü
Option+e e = è
Option+i o = ô

Which are which isn't obvious, and that's bad, but it's not many of them. (I prefer the X compose key.)
posted by cmiller at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2007

There are shortcuts on OS X too. Some of them are pretty intuitive. For example, pressing ALT + ` and then the letter you want will but the grave accent on that letter: è
Or ALT + i and then the letter, ALT + e and then the letter, etc.

There are lots of different sources of this info, but here's a particularly well-organized list.
posted by loiseau at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2007

Oh, Option+S is not a modifier -- it's ß directly.
posted by cmiller at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2007

posted by loiseau at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2007

I found that I learned these faster if I kept the Keyboard Viewer up for a while. It shows you your keyboard on-screen, and when you hold down a modifier key, it changes to show you what subsequent keypresses will do.

To turn it on, go to

System Preferences > International > Input Menu

and tick 'Keyboard Viewer' and 'Show input menu in menu bar'.

You'll then get a new 'language' icon in your menu bar. Click on it, and you can turn on the Keyboard Viewer.
posted by chrismear at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Try checking out the suggestions in this thread. I see at least 3.

Also check some of these search results. you might also try manipulating the search query. I used http://google.com/mac to do this search. If you have Mac related questions or issues, it is a great resource.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 9:55 AM on September 10, 2007

This collection of PDFs was doing the rounds a while ago.
posted by djgh at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2007

To piggyback on the question - I've had a hell of a time with Word and Helvetica. Many of the characters that show up for Arial are not visible in Helvetica (like micron symbol, for example). It's not that they don't exist, it's just that for some goddamn reason Word refuses to show them in Helvetica. If I do manage to insert them, they're in Symbol font or some such.

Anyone know why Helvetica unicode support in Word is so damn bad?
posted by caution live frogs at 2:42 PM on September 10, 2007

With keyboard viewer (thanks chrismear) and Word for Mac I have no problem typing a µ character in Helvetica. I'm guessing that Word's own character code shortcuts are broken somehow for Helvetica? The OS supplied shortcuts seem fine.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 10:29 PM on September 10, 2007

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