Typing Special Characters in Mac OS

Note: There are two ways to type special characters. The standard way is to add an international keyboard; the alternative method allows you to type special characters with shortcuts on the default keyboard.


Adding an International Keyboard

  1. Go to the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner and click System Preferences.
  2. Click on Keyboard.
  3. Under the Input Sources tab, click on the button in the lower left-hand corner.
  4. Type the desired language in the search bar in the lower left-hand corner. Then, select it on the right panel and then click Add.
  5. Optional step: You can turn on the Keyboard Viewer to familiarize yourself with the language’s keyboard.
    1. On the same window, go to the Keyboard tab. Check the box next to Show Keyboard, Emoji, & Symbol Viewers in menu bar.
      B. To turn on the Keyboard Viewer, go to your menu bar and click the flag icon and select Show Keyboard Viewer.


  6. To change your input keyboard, click on the flag icon on the top right-hand corner of the menu bar. Select the desired language and a check will appear to confirm the keyboard change.
  7. This is the layout of the current selected (Spanish) keyboard:
  8. To input other special characters (like the upside-down exclamation point or question mark in Spanish), hold down the Shift key. 
  9. To input characters with accents on an international keyboard, press the corresponding accent key and then the alphabet. So, to type ó, hit the left square bracket key ([) on your keyboard and then the character o.
    1. To input a character with the ¨ accent, hold down the Shift key. So, to type ü, Hold down the Shift key then hit the right square bracket key (]) on your keyboard. Then, press the character u.

Typing Accents Without Changing Keyboards

  1. To input a special character, hold down the character key for about one second. A bubble will appear. (You can let go of the key once the bubble shows up.)

  2. Choose the appropriate character by simply pressing the corresponding number. For example, to enter the a character with an accent above it, hold down on the a character key until the bubble appears, then press 2 on your keyboard.
    1. a–> á
  3. For other characters:
    1. Upside-down question mark, ¿ –> press Option + Shift + /
    2. Upside-down exclamation mark, ¡ –> press Option + 1
    3. Other special characters in various languages are available on their respective keyboards and can be achieved through similar keyboard shortcuts.