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Ireland

Putting Accents on Characters on Mac

Accents, everyone has one but some characters have more than one, and writing them on a Mac can be hard unless you know how.

I really only need one type of accent, the “sine fada” in Irish that goes over the vowels. They look like this: á, é, ó, ú and í.

For a long time I used Option-key using an Irish keyboard map I got off Justin Mason years ago. I haven’t used it for some time now and every now and again I wonder if there’s a better way of doing it using the standard keyboard maps on a Mac.

Turns out there is.

This page explains how to use the accent menu, but you can also use “dead keys” to type accents.

The accent menu is dead simple. Press the key down for a little longer than usual and a menu will appear with the accents required. Press the corresponding number and your accented character appears!

The dead key approach is probably faster however. Use the keyboard viewer to see your keyboard layout. I have a large split Microsoft keyboard and I’m using the British PC layout now so when I hit the Option key the accents are highlighted.

If I want to type “I like to eat cake” in Irish, and not “I like to eat shit”, I must use “Option-e” followed by “a” to get “á” in one word:

“Is maith liom cáca a ithe.”

I’m sure by now you’ve realised just how important accents are in daily life. It’s the difference between delicious chocolate and something that looks similar but tastes quite different. Yeah, you really needed that mental image didn’t you? Sorry. 🙂

By Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

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