The day will come when you need to type a special character or symbol… and you won’t know what to do.

A ©, a £, or a ∑ will bring you to your knees.

Then… you’ll remember this post.

When It’s Not On Your Keyboard…

  • Go to the black Apple in the top left-hand corner and choose System Preferences.
  • Select Keyboard.

Apple Mac OSX System Preferences - Keyboard

  • On the Keyboard tab check Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in Menu Bar.

Apple Mac OSX Keyboard Preferences

  • Close System Preferences.
  • On the right-hand side of the Menu Bar is a new icon that looks like a box with an asterisk inside.

Apple Mac OSX Character and Keyboard Viewer Menu

  • Click the icon and you have 2 options – Show Character Viewer and Show Keyboard Viewer.
  • Choose Show Character Viewer.

The Character Viewer

Apple Mac OSX Character Map / Viewer

The Character Viewer is broken into 3 sections:

  • Sidebar – Characters are broken into 10 groups, e.g.; Arrows, Pictographs, etc.
  • Character Window – The large block in the center shows all the available characters from a selected group.
  • Font Pane – On the top right-hand side is a large view of the selected character and the Font name. You may change the Font by clicking on the symbol variations in the bottom left-hand cormer.
    Click Add To Favorites to create your own character group.
    On occasion this area may show Related Characters that may be of interest.

Using The Character Viewer

In any Application where you can enter text, open the Character Viewer, locate the character you need, and double-click it to add it to your text string.

When you finish using the Character Viewer, go to the Viewer icon in the Menu Bar and choose Hide Character Viewer.

Using The Keyboard Viewer

The Keyboard Viewer is extremely useful if you want to learn keystrokes for special characters.

Special Characters and Symbols are created using Modifier Keys. Modifier Keys are keys that can be held down to temporarily modify the normal action of another key, e.g.; Command, Shift, Function, Control, Option, Return, etc.

An example is the shortcut Option G. On its own the G key produces the character G, but press Option G and you get ©

  • Click the viewer icon on the right-hand side of the Menu Bar and select Show Keyboard Viewer.
  • A small US Keyboard appears on your screen.
  • Click this keyboard on the bottom left or right edge to make it bigger.

Apple Mac OSX - US Keyboard Viewer

  • Holding down modifier keys or modifier key combinations show the resulting character on the keyboard.

Apple Mac OSX - US Keyboard Viewer With Option Key Held Down

  • You can use the keystroke at that moment to enter a special character into a text string.
  • At the same time you can make a mental note of the keystroke combination in case you need to use it again.
  • When you finish using the Keyboard Viewer, go to the Viewer icon in the Menu Bar and choose Hide Keyboard Viewer.

That’s it™.

Have a great week.

Special thanks to Janet Lawton for suggesting this post.

No Problem Mac - 310-621-5679 Blog Ad

Live in Los Angeles County and need Mac, iPad. or iPhone help, training, support, service, repair, or just want some questions answered…

Call me at 310-621-5679. I come direct to you. That’s as stress-free as it gets.


John Carroll - No Problem Mac

Get More Answers!

Super easy tutorials for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

It's literally a no-brainer!

You have Successfully Subscribed!