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How to Type Characters with Accents on Windows

The English alphabet isn’t the only alphabet out there, and even though many foreign languages have the English alphabet integrated into them, they also have an array of different iterations of characters from the English alphabet, characters with different accents that distinguish them from their counterparts from the English alphabet. There are five different kinds of accents that characters from languages other than English can have – these are Grave, Acute, Circumflex, Tilde and Umlaut. Each of these accents belongs to a different language, from Spanish to French and a number of others.

Windows users often need to type accented characters on their computers. The easiest way to do so would be to type them on your keyboard, but what if you have an English keyboard? English keyboards almost never have accented characters on them, but it is most definitely possible to type characters with accents on a Windows computer. It should be noted that accented characters can be typed on all versions of the Windows Operating System, and that there are a number of different methods that can be used to type characters with accents on Windows. If you would like to type accented characters on a computer running on any version of Windows, the following are some of the most effective methods that you can use to do so:

Method 1: Use the Windows Character Map

Windows has a built-in Character Map with a boat load of characters from a wide array of different languages. Users can search for any character they want, find out the ASCII code for that specific character or even copy it to their clipboard and paste it wherever it is required. This Character Map also includes all the accented characters a user could possibly require. To use the Windows Character Map to type accented characters on your computer, you need to:

  1. Open the Windows Character Map. This can be achieved a number of different ways. You can open the Start Menu, search for “character map” and click on the search result titled Character Map. Alternatively, you can also press the Windows Logo key + R to open a Run dialog, type charmap into the Run dialog and press Enter to launch the Character Map
  2. Once the Character Map shows up on your screen, search through it and locate the accented character you require. Once you find the character, click on it to zoom in on it for a closer look.
  3. Click on Select, and the character will be appended to the Characters to copy: field. 
  4. Click on Copy, and the accented character you selected will be copied to your computer’s clipboard. You can then go on your merry way and simply press Ctrl + V to paste the accented character wherever it is required. 

Method 2: Type accented characters using their Alt codes

ASCII codes (or Windows Alt codes) can also be used to type accented characters on Windows computers. Every single accented character that Windows supports has its own Alt code that can be used to type it into any field that is capable of processing ASCII code and displaying accented characters. In addition, typing accented characters using their respective Alt codes is pretty easy provided that you know the Alt code for the accented character you wish to type. To type accented characters on Windows using their Alt codes, you need to:

  1. Move your mouse cursor to where you want to type the accented character.
  2. Make sure your Num Lock is turned on. Alt codes only work when typed on the number pad on your keyboard. If you’re typing an Alt code on a laptop that doesn’t have a number pad, on the other hand, typing the Alt code on the numbers located above the alphabet keys should work just fine.
  3. Press and hold the Alt key on your keyboard.
  4. With the Alt key still held, type the Alt code for the accented character you want. Here are Alt codes for every single accented character you could possibly need:You can also find the Alt code for any character in the Windows Character Map – simply locate and click on the character you want to type, and its Alt code will be displayed in the bottom-right corner of the Character Map window. 
  5. Let go of the Alt key. As soon as you do so, your desired accented character will appear on your screen.

Method 3: Type accented characters using keyboard shortcuts

Yet another way you can type accented characters on computers running on the Windows Operating System is using their keyboard shortcuts. On Windows, there exist keyboard shortcuts for all five accents characters from foreign languages can have, and typing the shortcut for a specific accent in unison with the English alphabet counterpart of the accented character you want to type results in the desired accented character being typed. Here’s how you can type accented characters using their keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard.
  2. Press and hold the ` key if you desire a character with a grave accent, the  key if you desire a character with an acute accent, the Shift and ^ keys if you desire a character with a circumflex accent, the Shift and ~ keys if you desire a character with a tilde accent, or the Shift and : keys if you desire a character with an umlaut accent.
  3. Type in the English alphabet counterpart of the accented character you want to type. Be sure to press and hold the Shift key before typing in the character if you want the end result to be a capitalized accented character.

A sample key sequence would be Ctrl ` + to type in è or Ctrl Shift ~Shift + N to type in Ñ.

Method 4: Switch to a different keyboard layout

  1. Open the Start Menu.
  2. Search for “change keyboards or other input methods.
  3. Click on the search result titled Change keyboards or other input methods.
  4. Navigate to the Keyboards and Languages tab and click on Change keyboards…
  5. Click on Add….
  6. Locate a language that includes the accented characters you require (Spanish (Mexico), for example), and click on the + next to it to expand it.
  7. Click on the + next to Keyboard to expand it.
  8. Check the checkbox next to the option that best fits your requirements by clicking on it, and then click on OK.
  9. Click on Apply and then on OK.

Once you have more than one input language or keyboard layout selected, a language selector will appear in your computer’s Notification Area. You can click on this language selector, switch to the language that uses the accented character you require, type the accented character and then switch back to your usual input language. For example, if you want to type a lowercase acute e (é), you can simply click on the language selector in your computer’s taskbar, click on Spanish (Mexico) to switch to it, press and hold the  key and then press e, and a lowercase with an acute accent will appear on your screen.


Expert Tip

How to Type Characters with Accents on Windows

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