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How to type symbols and letters with accent marks

Emoji, accent marks, and other special characters bring an element of fun and accuracy to the texting experience, but what if you’re on your PC and you want to break up plain old text with cool symbols and special characters? Assuming you’re using a QWERTY keyboard, you might not be able to find these special characters.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • Any Windows laptop or PC

  • Any MacOS laptop or computer

  • A keyboard

In this guide, we’ll show you how to insert special characters into your copy using the character map (character viewer on Mac) and keyboard shortcuts. You can also check out our guide on the best keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10 and MacOS.

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Typing symbols in Windows 10 or Windows 11

Your Windows PC has many alt-key shortcuts programmed into it that are pretty easy to type out. However, it should be noted that if you’re using Windows and you have a keyboard with a full number pad, you can only execute these keyboard shortcuts if you use the number keys on your number pad, with the number lock key turned on. Using the number keys located directly below the row of F-keys will not work, which we discovered during independent testing.

If you don’t have a keyboard with a number pad, you can use the on-screen keyboard in Windows to perform these tasks. To find the keyboard in Windows 10, roll your cursor over to the lower-right side of the screen and right-click on the taskbar. Then, click on Show Touch Keyboard button. You can then long-tap or long-hold your mouse down on any given letter to find symbols and other alternate characters.

On Windows 11, you'll need to right-click on the Taskbar and choose Taskbar settings. From there, toggle the switch for Touch keyboard to on. You can then summon the touch keyboard as needed.

Step 1: Open your word processor and locate either Alt key on your keyboard. Typically, the Alt keys are located on either side of your spacebar.

Step 2: Scan the lists below for the symbol you want to type out.

Step 3: Make sure the cursor is located in the place where you want to insert the symbol of your choice. Then enter its corresponding keyboard shortcut. For instance, holding the Alt key and pressing the 1 on your numpad will insert a smiley face (☺) in your copy.

Emoji symbols

Emoji Symbol
Alt + 1
Alt + 2
Alt + 3

IP symbols

IP Symbol
Alt + 0169 ©
Alt + 0153
Alt + 0174 ®

Math symbols

Math Symbol
Alt + 35 #
Alt + 241 ±
Alt + 0188 ¼
Alt + 0189 ½
Alt + 0190 ¾
Alt + 0247 ÷
Alt + 60 <
Alt + 62 >
Alt + 242
Alt + 243

Uppercase accented symbols

Uppercase Accented Letter Symbol
Alt + 0192 À
Alt + 0193 Á
Alt + 0194 Â
Alt + 0195 Ã
Alt + 0196 Ä
Alt + 0199 Ç
Alt + 0200 È
Alt + 0201 É
Alt + 0202 Ê
Alt + 0203 Ë
Alt + 0204 Ì
Alt + 0205 Í
Alt + 0206 ú
Alt + 0207 û
Alt + 165 Ñ
Alt + 0210 Ò
Alt + 0211 Ó
Alt + 0212 Ô
Alt + 0213 Õ
Alt + 0214 Ö
Alt + 0217 Ù
Alt + 0218 Ú
Alt + 0219 Û
Alt + 0220 Ü
Alt + 0221 Ý
Alt + 0159 Ÿ
Alt + 0142 Ž

 Lowercase accented letters

Lowercase Accented letters Symbol
Alt + 0224 à
Alt + 0225 á
Alt + 0226 â
Alt + 0227 ã
Alt + 0228 ä
Alt + 0229 å
Alt + 0230 æ
Alt +0231 ç
Alt + 0232 è
Alt + 0233 é
Alt + 0234 ê
Alt + 0235 ë
Alt + 0236 ì
Alt + 0237 í
Alt + 0238 î
Alt + 0239 ï
Alt + 164 ñ
Alt + 0242 ò
Alt + 0243 ó
Alt + 0244 ô
Alt + 0245 õ
Alt + 0246 ö
Alt + 0154 š
Alt + 0249 ù
Alt + 151 ù
Alt + 150 û
Alt + 0252 ü
Alt + 0253 ý
Alt + 0255 ÿ
Alt + 0158 ž

Currency symbols

Currency   Symbol
Alt + 0164 ¤
Alt + 155 ¢
Alt + 156 £
Alt + 157 ¥
Alt + 158
Alt + 159 ƒ
how to type symbols and accents in windows macos character map 768x656
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Using the character map on Windows

Character Map is installed onto every Microsoft operating system; it allows you to copy and paste accented letters and symbols into documents, whether you use Word, WordPad, Google Docs, or another program.

Step 1: Head to the Windows Start Menu and then type in character map to search. After that, click it to open the application. Then, click it to open the app when it appears in the search results.

Step 2: Once opened, you'll see a list of characters. Scroll through the list until you locate your desired symbol or letter. Once found, click the Select button next to the text field. Your selected symbol or letter will then appear in the text field labeled Characters to copy.

Step 3: Click Copy, then paste them in their respective places within your document.

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Image used with permission by copyright holder

Typing symbols in MacOS

It's much simpler to type out symbols on a Mac. Each Mac shortcut utilizes the Option button, which is usually between the Command and Control keys. You'll also need to press Shift for certain combinations, which could be a little tricky. You can generally find the Shift key in the row above the Option key.

Or you can simply hold down a given key on your keyboard until an alternate character (like a letter with a tilde) appears for selection. That will help you fly through the steps below.

Step 1: Launch your word processor of choice, and locate either of the Option keys on your keyboard. 

Step 2: Find the symbol you want,

Step 3: Click the exact location of your document where you want the symbol to appear, and simply enter the corresponding keyboard shortcut.

how to type symbols and accents in windows macos character viewer 768x512
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Typing symbols using the Character Viewer in MacOS

If you find yourself struggling with MacOS keyboard combinations, you can skip over the above method and manually insert special characters and symbols through the character viewer. It takes a bit longer, but it's easy and straightforward, as long as you're using the latest version of MacOS.

Step 1: Click on the area where you’d like to insert a symbol or unique character.

Step 2: Depending on your keyboard, press Fn or the Globe icon, and a window for the character viewer should pop up immediately. If it doesn’t pop up, hit the Apple button, then System Preferences > Keyboard, and then select the character viewer.

Step 3: Either look for the symbol using the search field at the top of the window or click on the icon next to the search box to manually search for your specific special character.

Finding and inserting special characters couldn't be easier to do, and you can accomplish it right from your keyboard. These shortcuts will save you time and eliminate the need to search for and copy and paste your symbol.

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Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
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