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How to type diacritics and other characters (Mac)

Using the English keyboard layouts on a Macintosh, it is easy to type accented letters and many other characters.  It's worthwhile memorising the combinations you need, but you may also want to print out this page to have it as a reference.

NB:  The method described below is suitable for producing documents (word processing, PDFs) only. Because of the different way these characters are represented on PCs and Macs, you shouldn't use them on the internet (e.g. in emails or on web pages), as they will appear as gobbledigook on PCs. There is a platform-neutral way to include these characters on the web, but it is complex and is not discussed here.

Dead Keys
Many of these are obtained using the “dead key” method: first press a key representing the “overstrike” mark (e.g. a grave accent), then the letter over which the mark should go (e.g. “a”). The combined letter/diacritic is then displayed. The following table shows the key combinations required for the most commonly required characters.

To produce

Press

Followed by

Grave*

à, è, ì, ò, ù

À, È, Ì, Ò, Ù

[ALT]+`

The letter

Acute

á, é, í, ó, ú, ý

Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ý

[ALT]+e

The letter

Circumflex

Â, ê, î, ô, û

Â, Ê, Î, Ô, Û

[ALT]+i

The letter

Tilde

Ã, ñ, õ

Ã, Ñ, Õ

[ALT]+n

The letter

Umlaut/ diaeresis

Ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ

Ä, Ë, Ï, Ö, Ü, Ÿ

[ALT]+u

The letter


* The "overstrike" key here is the ones that looks like a grave accent. It is positioned next to 1 on some keyboards, and next to z , p or l on other keyboards.

Other Characters

The characters below are produced by holding down the ALT key and pressing a key. In some cases the SHIFT key needs to be held down as well.

To produce

Press

å

[ALT]+a

Å

[ALT]+Shift+a

æ

[ALT]+’

Æ

[ALT]+Shift+’

œ

[ALT]+[

Œ

[ALT]+SHIFT+[

ç

[ALT]+c

Ç

[ALT]+Shift+c

ß

[ALT]+s

¿

[ALT]+/

¡

[ALT]+1

ª

[ALT]+9

°

[ALT]+0

[ALT]+@

§

[ALT]+6

[ALT]+7

· (bullet)

[ALT]+8

[ALT]+2

©

[ALT]+Shift+C

®

[ALT]+Shift+R

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