Mac tip: How do I add special characters to my documents?

July 19, 2008

apple.jpegMacs are chock full of hidden treasures that will make your computer life a lot easier. A few weeks ago I received an email from a recent Mac switcher. They wanted to know how to add special mathematics symbols to their document. With my business, I often use these special characters I have customers that live in Brazil (many of their names have special symbols included in their names) when I switched over to the Mac OS I had to find how to access this feature fairly quickly.

In Mac OS X 10.4 and Mac OS X 10.5, you’ll find the special characters tucked away in the Character Palette. The Character Palette allows you to insert characters, like mathematical symbols, letters that include accent marks, arrows, and other “dingbats” into your document. That’s not all you can also use the Character Palette to enter a variety of characters from different languages: Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean characters.

How do I add special characters to my documents in Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5?

Where is the Character Palette located?
The Character Palette can be found in the Input menu. The Input menu icon resembles a flag, and you can (usually) find it in the top right hand corner of your menu bar.

I don’t see the Input menu in my menu bar?
When I first started hunting for these special characters on my MacBook Pro I couldn’t find them however that can be easily rectified.

  • Click on the Apple symbol located in the top left hand corner

  • Open System Preferences
  • Mac-International.jpg
  • Click on International
  • Mac-input menu.jpg
  • Click the checkboxes next to Character Palette and “Show Input Menu in menu bar.”
  • Mac-special-character.jpg

    How do I add special characters to my documents?

    It’s easy to add special characters to your document if the application you are using is designed to work with the Mac OS X the steps you need to do to add the special characters to your document are simple.

2 Responses to “Mac tip: How do I add special characters to my documents?”

  1. jackjack:

    Is there something wrong with the conspicuously worded “option” key? Just press it with a letter and a logical alternative letter is printed, and this is true in any program.

    For example, press option-e and then a vowel and you’ll get something like é. Or press option-l and you get ¬. Or option-o and you get ø. Much easier than the Windows equivalent of hexadecimal code, even easier than a character window.

  2. dj:

    This is not really a reply but a related question. I am currently taking an online math course that uses a software package called Blackboard. It is windows based and it is made quite clear to use a windows platform(browser), especially when taking tests. The logic and mathematical operators that are shown in this article come up completely different when viewing them in the schools web-site with a Mac OSX system(Safari). It is the only site that I’ve had problems with that. What gives? Can that shortcoming be overcome through the Mac or is it just that particular windows software causing the character misinterpretation?

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