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https://www.duolingo.com/PaschalisD

Typing french accents without duolingos help

In some point it gets very annoying to type accents only with duolingos help, especially when you are practicing on a pc. Switching 3 times between mouse and keyboard to type one word isn't very helpfull for me learning french.

I use the international us keyboard to type accents easily. Check this guide: http://french.about.com/od/writing/ss/typeaccents_2.htm

4 years ago

39 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Wrenbob
Wrenbob
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In Windows First go into Control panel Clock, Language, and region Keyboards and Languages Click on grey button change keyboards Then the add button Then choose the language you want. There will be a little icon on the right side of your computer to change from En, Fr, etc.

I use the French (Canadian) It works for Italian accents as well. Below are directions. Bonne chance! Buona fortuna!

Easy way is to add the French (Canadian) language on your computer. The French(Canadian) keyboard is very easy to use. When you want to type in French change the language to French (Canadian) http://zaveo.free.fr/english/accents.htm

This is a good link that describes in detail how to add language to your computer and what keys change. This from http://plato.acadiau.ca/courses/fren/tutor/frkeyboard/FRKEYS.htm This one shows the layout of where the french letters are and also how to bypass things. I use it always.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PaschalisD

You can also use the "on-screen keyboard" in windows to have always the keyboard map on vision.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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The other option is to memorize a few ASCII codes, so you don't have to change keyboard layout and remember how to do certain accents not written on your actual keys. You hold down the left Alt key (on a Windows keyboard, it's the key at the bottom, between the left Windows key and the space bar) and type in the number with the numpad on the right. Here are the extended ones (numbers 128 through 255) :

ASCII code table

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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This [entering ASCII codes] would seem to take so long for one letter! How does it work for you for timed exercises? And many laptop computers--mine for instance--don't have a dedicated keypad, and so another key must be held down, probably, and the numbers on the top keyboard row must be used, which would slow things down even more. It really works for you here at Duolingo? This kind of thing is fine in something like VIM (a text editor) but it is slower than using a remapped keyboard, and sometimes speed counts, here. [edited to specify what I meant by "this" in the first sentence.]

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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It's all a question of practicing it. I've got so frustrated not to find the French quote marks (« and ») on so many keyboards (including the Canadian French one, go figure !) that I've memorized it and it became second nature to me. Of course it doesn't applies to every accented letters, some are way easier to do on some keyboard layouts out there.

I mostly posted it to give an alternative. Because there are huge drawbacks to changing the keyboard layout in my opinion :
1. You have to learn where all the letters and accents are, because they won't be written on your keyboard, unless you actually buy a foreign keyboard and switch it, but that kills the purpose ;-))
2. I have had this setup before (more than one keyboard layout), and I so often switch the selected keyboard layout that most of the time, I get confused as to why the keys I press don't produce the character I expect (same speed issue than the one you pointed out with my idea)

Of course, no solution is perfect, it's now up to the preference of each. And maybe the easiest solution is to buy a keyboard with all the accented letters you're likely to use (easier when using fewer different languages) and keep only the one layout that reflects the keys drawn on the said keyboard.

As I've pointed out in another reply, the multilingual Canadian is quite good, but for Spanish.

But I do admit that I didn't really think about speed when I suggested it.

And then again, how many times people in chat told me writing was faster when cutting words and skipping punctuation, I replied : "Oh yeah ? Show me !" And ended up typing twice as fast as them with perfect syntax (including accents, cedillas and punctuation) ! It's just a question of practice and getting used to it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Khaur
Khaur
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Those are pretty much the reasons I switched away from changing the keyboard layout. But I didn't want to use the ASCII codes for several reasons, some of which have already been mentioned.

  1. Not all of the keyboards I use have a keypad. Most laptops can still access keypad keys by holding a Fn key, but that's a slanted shape and well, holding two modifiers at once can lead to unwanted actions. Especially since there is no standard on where the Fn key is located, I've used laptops where the key is left of the Ctrl key and some where it's on its right.

  2. Getting your hand on the keypad is going away from the "home row", the default position for your hands. This is eventually going to slow down your typing, and it is for the same reason that I type dots holding the Shift key rather than using the one on the keypad (I have a French keyboard).

  3. Holding one modifier and pressing three keys felt a little inefficient for a single character.

  4. Some of the characters I wanted to type (ı or ş for example) are not in the ASCII table, which means using Unicode number instead, with even more digits.

  5. Remembering arbitrary codes is not something I wanted to do because I've never been good at it.

  6. The behaviour is platform-specific (I use both Windows and Linux).

Discovering the compose key solved most of those issues for me. Since it doesn't require the keypad, 1 and 2 are gone. 3 somewhat remained, as you still need several strokes for one character. Most Latin alphabet-based letters (and a good deal of special punctuation) can be written in two characters after the compose key, so 4 is solved.

For the most part, the combinations make sense: İ (dotted capital i) is ". + I" (or vice versa), ç is ", + c", etc. Often you can even guess the combination: when I read you were having trouble with the French quotation marks, I tried \< + \<, and it gave me «. So it's a lot easier to remember (to me at least). If you're not happy with a specific combination, you can add a new combination instead (but that's going to hurt portability).

To my knowledge, it's only built-in with Linux (maybe MacOS too), but there are small programs you can run in the background to bring the functionality to other platforms (I gave a Windows link somewhere else in this discussion).

The cherry on top is that it turned my CapsLock key from a nuisance into something useful.

Although enough practice will get you proficient whatever the input method…

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Yes, I've seen your link below somewhere and I agree this method is the best of both worlds : keyboard layouts and ASCII codes, plus the added feature to be portable across platforms and keyboard types (many, if not every, type of laptop). The one annoying thing would be the requirement to install something to be used on Windows. I've got to check if there is a portable version to put on a flash drive, then it'd be awesome !

P.S. I was about to hit Post when I noticed I did a slip of the keyboard : I wrote "the best of both words" instead of the "best of both worlds" ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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(This is addressed to both of you, Khaur and BastouXII; it's at this point in the discussion, rather than at the foot, because we seem to have run out of nested replies below here.)

I'm not trying to convince you, either. Below are just a few comments.

If it were necessary to learn to type in other languages again, I don't know that I'd do it the same way that I have. I might install the English International Keyboard for French and maybe Spanish, and learn the "homophonic" (i.e., as close to English as possible) Russian keyboard.

Learning a new keyboard layout is not difficult. It takes 2-3 weeks of daily 5-15-minute practice to master the complete keyboard, and much less time if it's a keyboard that's similar to the one you already know, as Standard French is to English. The method is just like learning to touch type in English. You don't need a new keyboard, either--you just print out the "foreign" characters on paper in rows and refer to them ad lib. However, this process can interfere w/ typing productivity on the keyboard you already know, if it is similar, while you are learning the new one.

In my note above, I mistakenly said one would need to type on the upper keyboard row (numbers and special characters) using the Fn key, on a laptop; that is of course not true; the numbers to be used are on the 789uiojklm keys, arranged sort of like a keypad.

I am definitely with Khaur in finding this alt method unwieldy enough on a laptop to use only when absolutely necessary, in spite of its very evident utility. Although I confess that if need arises for special keys not on one of the keyboards already "installed," I just flip to another window where a VIM editing session is open, use its facilities, and cut-and-paste the characters to where I want them. It's not exactly efficient! But I have most of the characters I need available on installed keyboards . . . «» being for me, too, the characters most often lacking.

The compose key method sounds good. On linux, as I recall, there's a standard way of doing keymapping that will give the same result. However, what I did there, for French, Russian, and Spanish, was install a keyboard switcher, as the keyboards already were "in my fingers."

There seems to be a way to design and install one's own alternate keyboard for Windows--it's been mentioned here in Duolingo, I think--but it's something I have not tried. It may be the compose key method Khaur mentioned.

FWIW, my next keyboarding challenge will be ancient Greek. The "standard" keyboard is "homphonic," and it is not hard to type on (or need not be), even w/ 2-3 diacritical marks on some letters. But Windows has set up the way these diacritical marks are entered in a VERY user-unfriendly way. I think it is the same on Macs. What I'll probably try is designing an alternate keyboard in Windows (as referred to above) if I can figure it out, and keymap the same keystrokes into VIM. Sounds like a lot of work--the kind of thing they call "a challenge and an opportunity." Which is why I haven't done it yet. But I'll need it this summer . . .

Interesting discussion!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Khaur
Khaur
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If that's what's holding you back, you may want to take a look at AllChars. I believe it should be able to run from a flash drive. The downside is that its compose lists are slightly different and less complete than Linux's. There are other programs but those are the only ones I tried.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Actually, it's more the lack of time and my old habits that are holding me back ! I'll start by trying the one you proposed before seeking another one ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mptmpt
mptmpt
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One lingot from me, for using VIM.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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Thanks very much! It's a marvelous text editor; that's for certain.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/prky
prky
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I have printed and posted this list using the Alt key next to my computer, and over the past few months, have managed to memorize the more frequently used accents. I actually find it faster to use these codes in timed exercises, (as long as I know the code for that accent).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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And if you want to push it to Asian, Arabic and other languages that don't use the Latin letters, you can also do it with 4 digit Unicode numbers, but then it may become less effective than just changing keyboard layout.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alphabeta
alphabeta
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I use this when I use Windows. Once you have the acute e and grave a and e down, for French, you're 90% of the way there. Using accents on capital letters is optional, too.

My only problem is that I don't have an equally easy solution for Linux yet. EDIT: Now I have. Google setting up a compose key. ò_ó !

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Search for dead keys, you should find something that could help with Linux.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JayStone1

I'm using Windows 7 on a desktop. Pressing the left ALT key and typing in the ASCII code does not work for me. Suggestions?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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This is the first time I hear of it not working. Are you sure you use the number pad to the right of the keyboard and not the numbers over the letters? Do you have the numlock on? If you checked all that, maybe you have a program installed that blocks this (which I'd honestly find very strange).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JayStone1

Hi, I discovered the problem was I'm using a Logitech DiNovo Edge bluetooth keyboard. It doesn't have a numlock switch. Guess I missed the numlock requirement earlier. I had an old Dell keyboard lying around, connected that instead, and it works like a charm. Thanks!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Khaur
Khaur
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Another similar solution is using a compose key. That way you can assign a key to enter a special mode where the next few characters are going to be merged together. The combinations are fairly easy to remember, for example [compose] ' e for é, or [compose] o e for œ. It's even useful with a French keyboard layout for those missing characters like accentuated capitals or compound letters (æ/œ).

It's built-in with most Linux distributions (you just have to activate it), and you can get the functionality on Windows here. Sorry Mac users, I've got nothing for you, but surely it's out there...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

You can also buy an azerty keyboard, like we use in France ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KSmitch
KSmitch
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I downloaded a French keyboard map some time ago and after using it I about went insane. The keys seemed to be jumbled for no particularly good reason and I have to hold shift just to be able to use the period. Is that how actual French keyboards are?

Furthermore is there a way to customize the key mapping on a keyboard?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Khaur
Khaur
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Yes, the common French layout is a bit crazy. We have a key to type ù which is only in one word, but we have to use two strokes to type the much more common ê. We have µ, § and ² easily accessible, but you need to get out of your way to type accentuated capitals or compound letters...

I know I should learn another layout, but I'm so used to this one that I don't.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

Yes, they work like that, but it is perfect for our usage.
We have the problem that we have (a lot of) accents.

There is a dot on the 0 key on the right of the keyboard, under the numeric pad. (not necessarily easiest to use)
Personally I always have my little finger on the shift key.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Try the Canadian French, you may have a better time with it, especially if your normal keyboard is QWERTY.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KSmitch
KSmitch
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I'll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion. Have one whole and entire lingot.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
sloggerPlus
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This "standard French" keyboard is the one I use, having learned to type on it before ever I found Duolingo. Here it is the pits for timed exercises, because the keys that are different. in the two languages sometimes interfere when I rush, especially q/a, w/z, m/, and a few others. For timed exercises I don't generally bother with punctuation, even, but still the "flipped" keys really are a hindrance.

However, other than timed exercises it is okay--it doesn't take long for fingers to "set" themselves in the new keyboard when changing between languages, since when doing Duolingo exercises, I don't flip between keyboards but type everything on the French one.

But if starting from scratch, the International keyboard (on Windows) and some sort of specialized keymapping on Linux/UNIX OSs would make much more sense.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/905mmgo
905mmgo
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The french canadian keyboard is easy to use for French, Italian, and English, and I switch to a spanish keyboard for Spanish. It takes a couple of minutes to get used to it but in the long run, it is worth it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martijn-J

I don't see anything about the 'œ' character. How do French speakers do this? Do they just use 'oe'?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

It is not write on the keyboard, but with a combination of key it is possible to do it easily.
For me it is the key at the left of the key '1' but it can also be 'AltGr + o' with another config.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martijn-J

What layout do you use? I tried some of the French ones but still wasn't able to type the 'œ'.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martijn-J

Thank you guys for your help. But I have found another solution that fits my needs perfectly.

I found a way to create custom keyboard layouts. So I have made a custom version of the US International layout that includes the "œ". If others are interested, here is a download link. (Windows only) http://www.mediafire.com/download/ezeheya3rqdxt9q/oethel.zip

Simply unzip and run the setup. When the setup is finished the layout should be available under "English (United States)" under the name "United States-International - Oethel" or "United States-International - Custom". The "œ" will be located under 'AltGr + . ' I always use US-International so I have set this new one to be my default keyboard. No need to learn a new layout and no need to switch layouts.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

I don't have my laptop here, but i think it is 'French (french) deprecated' or 'French latin1'.
I will take a look tonight.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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The Canadian multilingual has it :

Canadian multilingual keyboard layout

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaelFr

My laptop run on linux ubuntu, and the keybord configuration is 'Français (variante)' or 'Français (variante obsolète)'

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Try Alt+0156 for small and Alt+0140 for capital. That's the left Alt key down while typing the numbers indicated on the left numpad.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Martijn-J

No numpad on my laptop :\

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Yes, old and smaller laptops don't have the physical numpad, but usually you have it overlapping your regular keyboard. Look for the numbers in a different color or written at an odd place on the rightmost keys. You access it by pressing a special function key. Some laptops also allow for a toggle instead of keeping it down (like the CAPS vs Shift keys).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aritrariter

Good idea. I usually practice french on my Android mobile, and one simply has to hold down the required letter to get all the accented versions of the letters. This is one reason I simply don't bother using the laptop for learning French.

4 years ago