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Input methods for characters that are not present on keyboard

Change keyboard layout

In Windows a ‘United States-International’ keyboard layout is available. It has a QWERTY layout but also can be used to insert numerous characters used in Western European languages. These characters can be typed using both AltGr modifier and dead keys. Similar layouts are included in many Linux distributions.

All keyboard layouts shipped with Microsoft Windows link to external page.

Create a custom keyboard layout

Most frequently used characters can be mapped to certain key combinations. Normally right Alt (also called AltGr) is used as a modifier key.

In Windows NT, 2000, XP, 2003 Server and Vista a keyboard layout may include any character (unlike Windows 9x and ME, in which case only characters existing in the 8-bit system code page can be included), but some programs will not accept from keyboard any characters that are not in the system code page.

Character map

All Windows versions, many Linux distributions and MacOS include a character map. Copying to clipboard and pasting into application is tedious so here are three programs for Windows that allow single-click input:

Character maps and helpers integrated into programs

A small selection.

Other methods

It is possible to use the Wikipedia sandbox link to external page where many accented and special characters can be inserted into edit box by single click. Other Wikipedias have similar pages with possibly different characters. The same script is used by the virtual keyboard another page on this site which offers only a few characters but is easier to use thanks to size of the ‘keys’.

When a character’s position number in Unicode is known, it is possible to insert this character using this number. Some programs support one or more of the following methods:

In Windows there is a limitation that affects users of systems set to non-Western regional settings and concerns characters No 160–255. Windows is programmed in such a way that a 3-digit code (without the leading zero) will be treated as referring to the position in DOS (OEM) codepage while the code with leading zero will be treated as referring to the position in Windows (ANSI) codepage. In case of non-Western Windows it will be necessary to switch keyboard language to some Western language to be able to insert a character from the Unicode range of 160-255. In many applications there will also be conflict between a character’s hexadecimal code and keyboard accelerators making it impossible to enter a number that includes hexadecimal digits A–F (most frequently E and F). Some applications do not accept decimal numbers above 255, entering a number above this limit will result in inserting a character from position in the range of 0–255, modulo 256, e.g. in place of the character ‘g with dot above’ (ġ, character No 289) the exclamation mark (character no. 33) will be inserted instead: 289 − 256 = 33.