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Easy spêcíāl chäråctėrs with OS X Lion

My kids are taking French, so periodically they need access to special characters. Time to rejoice, because with with Mac OS X Lion, inserting accents and umlauts is super easy.

In fact, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you’ve probably already done it on iOS 5.

Here’s how it works.

  • Hold down the key for the appropriate letter (e.g. A if you want ä).
  • A window of character options for that letter will pop up.

  • Click the one you want, or press the corresponding number on the number keypad.

That’s it!

This should work with all compatible software (e.g. Word, Scrivener, TextEdit, Pages, Evernote), but it only applies to letters, not characters like © or ® or ∞.

If your OS version won’t let you access the characters as described above—or you need other types of special characters—this link has a good chart of shortcuts for special characters on Mac (and PC) keyboards.

And, of course, there’s always the Special Characters menu (Edit–>Special Characters in Scrivener or Insert–>Symbol in Word).


Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    off topic

    Thank you for the “blackout” and the link. My GA senators are still at it though. SOPA and PIPA are dead until they arn’t.

    These folks have targeted Chambliss and Isakson for further mail.

    I think a much more active electorate can come into being if the internet remains open. If we loose the ablity to communicate, organize and move as quickly as we did on this issue we will loose big time.

  2. Peta


    Any idea on how to add in additional special characters that are missing from the Edit > Special Characters lists. There are number of Right arrows that do not have matching Left arrows, and yet they exist in word’s symbols lists using Wing Dings. I have purchased your book, but cannot find a way to do this.

    • Reply

      Peta: I don’t know how to add additional characters, but did you notice that many of the characters have font variations? They’re on the right panel of the Special Characters window, below the large image of the character, and below the Related Characters section. You might need to stretch the window or scroll down to see it. So if you choose the first arrow in the right arrow list, then scroll down on the right, you’ll see a bunch more similar options. Hope that helps!

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