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Mac Shortcuts for Foreign Letters and Symbols

Part of the Macs All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When writing, you may want to use a symbol or an accented letter. Holding down any of the letters in the following table opens a pop-up window with the variations of that letter and a number under each one. Type the number, and the variation appears in your document. For example, hold down the “a” key, and then press 1 to type “à”. It works for uppercase letters as well.

Letter Variations
a à á â ä æ ã å â
c ç ć ĉ
e è é ê ë ē ė ę
i î ï í ī į ì
l ł
n ñ ń
o ô ö ò ó œ ø ō õ
s ß ś š
u û ü ù ú ū
y ÿ
z ž ź ż

Some common symbols are quickly accessed with the following key combinations:

Combination Result
Option-2
Option-4 ¢
Option-8
Option-r ®
Option-g ©
Option-Shift-- (hyphen) — (em dash)

To see all the key combinations, choose Apple menu→System Preferences, and then choose Language & Text. Click Input Sources, and then click the check box next to Keyboard & Character Viewer. Close System Preferences. An icon for the Keyboard and Character Viewer appears in the status bar at the top of your screen. Click the Keyboard & Character Viewer icon and choose Show Keyboard Viewer. A graphic representation of the keyboard appears on your screen. Hold down the Shift, Option, or Shift-Option keys. The keyboard changes to show the letter or symbol that will be typed when you hold down Shift, Option, or Shift-Option and type a letter or number.

There are five gold option keys. If you hold down the Option key, press one of the gold keys, release the Option key, then press another letter, the accent associated with the gold key appears on the letter you typed. For example, press Option-e, and then type “a” and the result is “á”.

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