Typing French accents/ characters in Windows


For native English speakers, typing accents can be a bit of a bother. The keyboards do not have accented letters. Naturally, there are a ton of accents in French and eventually you will want to do something during lessons other than clicking on the accented text below the panel.

There are one of two things you can do:

1) Convert your keyboard from an "American" layout to an international one.

I am not a huge fan of this as one must remember where all the keys lay. As someone who touch-types about 90 wpm... you can't teach an old dog new tricks. (You can teach them French, but not how to type differently.)

I say if you are going to change your keyboard, Google the heck out of it first. I think there are more cons than pros.

[EDIT: I should say that this does not work for me. I am far too acclimated to my method. But it seems to work well for others, so check it out. It might work fine for you.]

2) Use the character map. Click on the Start icon, then go to: Accessories, System Tools, Character Map. Look on the grid (which unfortunately does not resize) and find the character you want, say é. Click on it and it'll tell you the code, in this case ALT+0233. Hold the ALT key while entering 0233 and voilà: an "e" with an acute accent.

Or, better yet, copy and paste this list onto a doc, enlarge the font, and print it out:

À, à: ALT+0192, ALT+0224 Â, â: ALT+0194, ALT+0226 Ä, ä: ALT+0196, ALT+0228 Æ, æ: ALT+0198, ALT+0230 Ç, ç: ALT+0199, ALT+0231 È, è: ALT+0200, ALT+0232 É, é: ALT+0201, ALT+0233 Ê, ê: ALT+0202, ALT+0234 Ë, ë: ALT+0203, ALT+0235 Î, î: ALT+0206, ALT+0238 Ï, ï: ALT+0207, ALT+0239 Ô, ô: ALT+0212, ALT+0244 Ö, ö: ALT+0214, ALT+0246 Œ, œ: ALT+0140, ALT+0156 Ù, ù: ALT+0217, ALT+0249 Û, û: ALT+0219, ALT+0251 Ü, ü: ALT+0220, ALT+0252 «, »: ALT+174, ALT+175

It is really easy using the keypad and after a few rounds, you can do it by memory.

So for all you newbies to French with English language keyboard layouts, hope this helps.

February 10, 2014


I am not a huge fan of this as one must remember where all the keys lay.

That's often a problem with locale- and language-specific layouts but not really with the US International layout (which is the one you linked to instructions for). With the latter all the standard keys are in the same exact place, the only difference is a few keys become "dead keys" in order to type accents. So e.g. to type é you type ' then e. If you just want to type ' then you have to hit ' then space, which can be slightly annoying (especially for typing French), but the trade-off is that you can type é, à (` then a), ô (^ then o), etc. really fast.

February 10, 2014

I agree with you, I have a US physical keyboard and the US intl tuned on. I don't have the tiniest trouble finding where the keys are.

February 10, 2014

As an accountant, I am used to the keyboard. Memorizing a new layout won't work for me. So I made the list for anyone else out there who wants to type this way. I have been typing French for ten years using ALT+. I don't think I'll be able to change. ;-)

February 10, 2014

I don't know why this was downvoted - it's a helpful post for people studying French who don't know know how to type the accents. People can be weird.

Here, have a lingot on me.

February 11, 2014

That is helpful. My mother tongue also has a lot of accented letters, but there is a software that allows me to just change from typing english - vietnamese by just a click

Alt text

February 10, 2014

Life hack (or not): Just press Shift+Alt to switch languages. You'd know that it switched when you see the EN turn to the language you switched to :)

February 12, 2014

I thank you copieusement.

February 10, 2014

Macintosh really has the best solution for typing accents. Just hold a key down and a menu of accented letters appears. Voilà! I wish this feature was available on the PC.

February 10, 2014

just curious - do French really bother to type those accents? because in Russian for instance you can usually replace Ё with simple E and most people do. Typing И instead of Й, however, looks strange

May 4, 2014

IMO, actual French people have European keyboards so it is not an issue. But for things like SMS, etc. then the answer is no.

May 10, 2014
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