typing accented letters from on the keyboard
Is there a way to type the accented letters from the keyboard, without having to always shift to the mouse?
Yes -- if you change the language on your keyboard. A Google search should show you how to do it with your operating system.
If you're running windows, you should be able to do it easily from your control panel. Go to keyboard settings and languages or what have you, and switch to US-International. The accented letters, as well as inverted question and exclamation marks, plus scores of other glyphs become easily available.
Make sure you have the US International keyboard selected. To check, lft click on the little keyboard on the bottom toolbar and it should say United States - International. Don't mess with the Spanish keyboards. To accent vowels (á, é, etc) hit the single apostrophe key and, while holding down the single apostrophe key, hit the vowel. You can also create your own shortcuts using MS Word and set them as defaults. For example: to create ñ, I set up ctrl+alt+n. For ¿.... ctrl+alt+?. Hope this helps!
Acute accents over vowels can be done with apostrophe, and the ñ can be made by typing a ~tilde before the n, but all of these also default to right alt+letter if I'm not mistaken. If you need an umlaut, hit the double apostrophe (quote marks) then the vowel, like sö
If you have changed your keyboard into a Spanish layout, it should look a lot like this: http://www.terena.org/activities/multiling/ml-mua/test/img/kbd_spanish.gif
Unlike German, Iitalian and Nordic languages keyboards, the Spanish does not provide the accented letters,because they are not letters of the alphabet! (except, of course, ñ), so you still have to go through the combination of keys. ¿How? like this:
you press the accent, right to ñ, and then (directly) your vowel of choice, Capitals are made by first going to the accent and then shift+vowel