How to type special characters on Windows 11 PC

Here’s the situation: You’re writing a work report, and suddenly you have to write the phrase “Jones née Berkowitz.” Or you add a phrase in Spanish and need to use the word “años”. How do you add special characters to letters with your Windows 11 PC?

Special characters (also known as diacritics) may be more common in certain languages, but there are plenty of circumstances in which English speakers may need to use them. But due to their extreme rarity in the English language, native English speakers may not have learned how to add these tags to documents, emails, or other writings. It’s not hard to add them to your Windows document, although it’s not quite as smooth a process as on a Mac, where all you have to do is hold down the appropriate key. (Actually, one day, you had to search for character code symbols.)

Here are different ways to add special characters when using a Windows 11 PC.

Use the touch keyboard

The easiest way to add diacritics to a document is to enable the Windows touch keyboard. (Thanks to Ed Bot from ZDNet To guide me through this method first.) The touch keyboard appears automatically if you’re using a Windows tablet or PC in tablet mode. If you don’t have a touch screen, you can use the keyboard icon that appears in the taskbar on the right side near the date. Don’t you see it? This is how you get:

  • Click the search icon in the toolbar and search for “touch keyboard”. or go to Settings > Time & language > Typing > Touch keyboard.
  • check Show the touch keyboard when there is no keyboard connected.

Enable the touch keyboard.

Now, when you want to use a special character:

  • Click the touch keyboard icon. (You’ll usually find it on the right side of the taskbar.)
  • The touch keyboard will appear. Long press (with your mouse button or your finger if you have a touch screen) on the letter you want to use.
  • You will now see several additional keys that show the ways you can type this letter with different symbols. Select the one you want, and it will appear in your document.
  • If you want to add an emoji or a GIF, click the emoji button. (It’s an icon with a heart located at the top left of the keyboard.)

Long press on the touch keyboard to reveal the letter with different diacritics.

Long press on the touch keyboard to reveal the letter with different diacritics.

Use emoji keyboard

Another keyboard that you can access that allows you to easily add special characters to your text is the emoji keyboard in Windows. Yes, it is mainly for adding emojis to your text, but it has other uses as well. It is easy to use.

  • Hold the Windows key and press the period key.
  • The emoji keyboard will appear. Click on the Icons tab at the top (fourth from the left).

Emoji keyboard also gives you access to special characters.

  • Scroll down until you find the character you want. You can also navigate to different types of characters using the categories (such as “general punctuation” or “currency symbols”) at the top.

Use the character map

If you want to try an older way to add special characters to Windows, you can use Character Map, which is a less polished and more complex version of the touch keyboard but offers a similar service.

To access it on your Windows 11 system:

  • Select the search icon in the taskbar, type “character” in the search field, and then select the Character Map application.
  • You will get a map that will pop up showing a set of special characters for a particular font. You can change the font by clicking on the font dropdown menu at the top.

The character map gives you access to a variety of special characters.

The character map gives you access to a variety of special characters.

  • Click the character(s) or special characters you want to use in your document, then click the Select button. They will appear in a file Characters to be copied Square.
  • Once you have selected all the characters you want, tap copy button , and then paste the character(s) into your document.

Use the American International keyboard

If you speak English, speak multiple languages ​​and use special characters a lot, you may want to try American International Keyboard, which sets your keyboard to let you add special characters more easily. (Thanks to “shiroledat” for the tip).

First, you need to add the American International Keyboard to Windows:

  • go to Settings> Time and language> Language and region.
  • Look for Preferred languages and (assuming you are an English speaker in the US) click US English). Then select the three dots on the right and choose Language options.
  • Search keyboard which (if you haven’t been there before) will likely have a single keyboard icon labeled US / QWERTY. This is the keyboard map you are using right now. Click on Add a keyboard button on the right Installed keyboards.

Find the list of installed keyboards.

Find the list of installed keyboards.

  • In the popup that appears, scroll to US International / QWERTY and click on it.

when you click

When you click on Add Keyboard, you get a list of possible keyboards.

Now, you always have the option to use either the Standard US keyboard or the US International keyboard. You can see which one is active in the lower right side of the taskbar near the date. You will read either ENG / US or ENG / INTL. Click that (or just tap Windows key + Spacebar) and the popup will let you switch from one to the other.

Your chosen keyboard will appear on the right side of the taskbar;  Select it to change the keyboard.

The current keyboard will appear on the right side of the taskbar; Select it to change the keyboard.

American International keyboard gives you two ways to add special character:

  • Use the right Alt key with the appropriate letter to get one of the most common combinations. for example, Alt + e will lead to é.
  • Tap the symbol you want to use and then tap the character you want to use it with. For example, if you first click on a file ~ then symbol n key, you’ll get it n.

Washington State University has published a handy chart showing all the symbols you can get with the American International keyboard.

Use a Unicode value

Remember a character map? If you look in the lower right corner of the character map after selecting a letter or special character, you’ll see the word keystroke followed by alternative A four-digit number. This number represents the Unicode value of the symbol, the time standard for adding characters.

If you constantly use a few special characters, it may be faster to add the character you want using your regular keyboard. There are several ways to do this; Here are the two easiest types (each with their limitations):

  • Press the Alt key and then type the four-digit Unicode value. For this to work, you must have a separate number pad on your keyboard, and the NumLock key must be enabled.
  • If you’re working with Microsoft Word, WordPad, Outlook, or another Microsoft application, you can type in a Unicode value and then type Alt-X.
  • You can also press the Control key plus a symbol and then the letter you want to highlight. for example, Ctrl + ‘ And H will lead to é Assuming you’re in a Microsoft app.

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