Foreign language students – how do I type special characters on an English keyboard?

For all you guys (and girls, and people falling somewhere in the middle) out there trying to learn a second language and type special characters, here’s a little tip that I found that allows the most convenient shortcut to umlauts and accent marks etc.

I started off using the numeric keypad, and using Alt+Numpad combinations, but for example, to type ä required me to press the keypad combination Alt+1 3 2 each time. Now… type a word like “tänään” from finnish a few times, and you’ll start to go slightly insane. To further compound my problems, my Surface Book laptop doesn’t HAVE a numeric keypad… so another solution is required.

The tip I finally found (on a Reddit forum that I can’t find again but thanks to original discoverer!), which is the most convenient for Windows users, I’ve transcribed below. Hope it helps!

In Windows, go to Control Panel > Language > Change your Language Preferences and it should list your current language settings.

Find your currently selected option and click the ”Add an input method”, and then look for “United States – International”. Save that.

Now you can type in special characters, by starting with the ” key, then typing the character that it corresponds to, e.g.

tap the ” key, then the ‘a’ key and you will get ä

tap the ‘~’ key, and then the ‘n’ key and you’ll get ñ. Etc.

If you don’t use special characters frequently keep an input method like “US” around.

To switch between the special character keyboard and the normal one, use the Wn+Space (i.e. the Windows Special key + Space at the same time).




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