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FAQ: How do I insert special characters in Word using a Mac?


Rather than using the Symbol option from the Insert menu, here is another way to insert accented characters used in languages other than English (umlauts, circumflex etc.).

For instance, to produce an ä:

  1. press and hold the option key (left of the command key, labelled alt or option)
  2. whilst holding down the option key, press and hold u
  3. whilst holding down u, release the option key and press a

To find out what is possible:

  1. select Key Caps from the Apple menu (OS 7,8 or 9) or from the Utilities folder (OS X)
  2. hold down the option key and see the Key Caps keyboard change. Notice that some characters appear with a shadow border; these are the characters which will produce various accents (e.g. u for umlaut).
  3. press the relevant 'shadow-bordered' character whilst holding down the option key (e.g. option+u)
  4. release the option key and note the Key Caps keyboard will then actually show the characters that can be typed with an umlaut (ä,ë,ï,ö,ü,ÿ)


Last updated: October 2011