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Leaving the Stone Age behind when it comes to typing foreign accents and characters

Many foreign language students, or at least those with the slightest technological inclination, would do well to learn how to change their computers' keyboard language layout in order to be able to normally type foreign characters and accents that don't exist in English. It's a little bit complicated, but you can find out exactly how to do this by googling phrases like "changing keyboard language windows" or "changing keyboard language mac." If you don't like the result, you can always change it back, or stay with the English layout (in Windows) by pressing "Alt+Shift." As a Spanish speaker, I am frustrated to see how many Spanish-speaking computer users do without accents and the "ñ" or are still stuck in the Alt+Number combinations of the computer Stone Age. You can choose not to be one of them.

June 23, 2012



For Mac users, there isn't much reason to switch to the Spanish keyboard. As Marshall mentioned, you can hold down the key needing the accent to select it, but what I find quicker is to use the option key. Option + e will put an acute (accent symbol) over the character typed next. Option + n will put a tilde ( ˜ ) over the next character. Option + u will put an umlaut over the next character ( ¨ ). Option + 1 will give you an upside-down exclamation mark, and option + shift + ? will give you and upside-down question mark.


That's a valid complaint. Here's a tip for Mac users, for whom fortunately, typing accents is actually rather simple:

Hold down the letter in question instead of just tapping it once. A menu will pop up, from which you can choose the desired umlaut.


I have enabled the extended keyboard option in windows, which uses the AltGr key + aeio or u to type the accented vowels, and creates a dead key with AltGr + ~ to create ñ.


Raymond17, daMarshall Keith.I,

Thanks for the "input" ;) I had already had dual keyboard layouts (English and Spanish) but I find it more difficult switching back and forth. Keith.I's suggestion was what I specifically was looking for. Here are some links that helped me that may help others.

Duolingo special characters using the extended keyboard layout For those of us in the USA or that use a US keyboard layout, here is a Microsoft article that explains how to use the extended keyboard layout that Duolingo user "Keith.I" suggested. It includes a link/button to a Microsoft FixIt which will make the install for you. You will then be able to use the RightAlt key (aka AltGr) plus the letter to type such letters as áéíóúñ¿¡

Microsoft Support Article: How to use the United States-International keyboard layout in Windows 7, in Windows Vista, and in Windows XP http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306560

Wikipedia: AltGr key http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AltGr_key


there is an option in our computer only. follow the steps- Start>control panel>region an language>keyboards and languages>change keyboards>add(if u do not find many of them go back to keyboards and languages>install or uninstall languages)>then just click on the plus sign before any of the language you want to add>choose the options>ok

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