November 30, 2011 5 Comments
Trying to figure out how to make accents on your computer may be one of the lesser challenges of language learning, but with some computers, it can be one of the most frustrating. If you write with a word processor, post to websites like Facebook and Twitter, send instant messages, and send or receive email in more than one language, getting the accents to appear in all the different kinds of text boxes can be confusing. Luckily for Mac users, there is a way to simplify the situation.
The sure way to make accents appear in any text box
There are different ways of getting accents to appear on different websites, and there are differences between websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google sites, and even the blogging website that created this post. However, in our experience, the best way to make your accents appear the way you want them is to type your text with a word processor first. Read our articles on How to make accents in a Microsoft Word document and How to make accents on a Mac. Type your text the way you want it and simply copy and paste it into the text box where you want it. We have not found a website where this does not work. (Although feel free to comment and tell us if you have!)
How to make your Mac type in more than one language
Computer manufacturers create different keyboards for different parts of the world. A keyboard in a Spanish-speaking country will have its own keys for accents (ó, é…) special characters (ñ) and punctuation (¿? and ¡!). A keyboard in a French-speaking country will have its own modifications, as will keyboards for Chinese, Russian, and many other languages. Using the correct keyboard for the language you want makes typing much simpler.
So do you have to buy a new computer keyboard for your new language? Not if you own a Mac. Here are simple instructions for how to change your computer’s keyboard layout.
1. At the top right corner of the screen the date, time, and, on a laptop, battery life are displayed. Next to that there should be a small flag graphic that indicates the computer’s default language. A computer that is set to English might show a small United States or British flag. Click on that icon and choose “Open language & text.”
2. A dialogue box with your computer’s language options appears. Scroll through the list and choose the language you want by clicking the box next to its flag.
3. Now when you click the flag graphic in the top right corner of your screen, all the languages you have chosen should appear. You can switch back and forth between them with this menu.
4. When you switch languages, it means that the character that appears might not be the same as the character on the key. To see the keyboard view for the new language, click the flag graphic again and select “show keyboard viewer.” A mini keyboard will display on the screen and it will highlight they keys you hit as you type. If you hold down the shift or alt option buttons it will show the alternate characters that are associated with these keys.
5. For example, say you want to use the Spanish keyboard. You select the Spanish language from the menu and show the keyboard viewer. It looks almost the same as an English keyboard except that there is an ñ where the semi-colon and colon would be. Two buttons are orange: the two accent keys next to the letter p. That is because in order to make an accented character you need to hit two keys. If you want to type ó, for example, you hit the key next to the letter p, and then hit the o key.
Hit the shift button to see what else the Spanish keyboard can do. The two accent keys are now the degree symbol (º) and diuresis (for making tremas – like ü). What was the apostrophe key (‘) is now quotation marks (“). The letter keys are now symbols– notice that the number 6 is now a forward slash (/).
Hit the alt option button to see your other options. You can make special characters like € and ¶. The most useful of these is @ –the “at” symbol for email addresses (called arroba in Spanish), which you can make by typing option-G.
6. When you get used to typing with the new keyboard, you can click the small red x in the corner of the keyboard viewer to hide it. If you want to see the special characters your keyboard can make, click on “Show character viewer” from the same menu.
- Anatomy of a Keyboard (ctrlaltdesign.wordpress.com)