Mac Shortcuts for International Letters and Symbols

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

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

When writing, you may need to use a symbol or a letter with a diacritical mark, such as an accent (à) or a tilde (ñ). 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 A and then press 1 to type à. It works for uppercase letters as well.

These variations appear when you use the U.S. English keyboard. If you add a keyboard for another language, you may see more or different variations. To add a keyboard, go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences; then click the Keyboard icon. Click the Input Source tab and then click the add button (+) at the bottom left. Select the language you want, and then click the Add button. Select the Show Input Menu in Menu Bar check box. When you’re working in a document and want to switch to a different language, click the Input menu icon in the status bar and select the language you want to use.

Letter Variations
a à á â ä æ ã å �?
c ç ć �?
e è é ê ë ė ē ę î ï í î ì
i î ï í î 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-

To see all the key combinations, go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences and then Keyboard. Click the Input Sources tab, and then select the Show Input Menu in Menu Bar check box. Close System Preferences. An icon for the Input Menu appears on the status bar at the top of your screen. Click the Input Menu icon and choose Show Keyboard Viewer. A graphic representation of the keyboard appears on your screen. Do one of the following three actions: Hold Shift, hold Option, or hold Shift+Option. The keyboard changes to show the letter or symbol that will be typed when you now hold 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, and 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. The result is á.