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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Typing characters with diacritics on the Mac

There I was, trying to type a Croatian phrase into Google Translate when I found myself wondering “Wait, there must be an easier way to enter characters with diacritic marks than by trying to guess the right combination of Option and letter key.”

Friends, there is. File this one under one of those tips that I’d either forgotten or never really realized, in large part because my history steeped in the classic Mac OS meant I always thought of looking these things up via Key Caps.1

Typing special characters on macOS

A quick search turned up this macOS support article, which points out that—in a move borrowed from iOS—all you have to do is press and hold a key to see every available character associated with that key. More to the point, each character has a number associated with it—hit the corresponding key, and it’ll pop it right in there for you.

Certain letters with diacritics I’ll always have hardcoded in my memory (Option-e plus a letter for accent aigu, for example, or Option-c for ç—thanks years of French homework!) but for characters I more rarely need to type, this definitely speeds up the process.

  1. Which does still exist as Keyboard Viewer, though you have to jump through the hoops of enabling the Input menu in System Preferences Keyboard or as part of the Accessibility options before you can bring it up). 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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