How to type accents, emoji, and symbols on your Mac

OS X includes features that make it easy to find and type special characters.

Accented characters

To type an accented or alternate version of a character, hold a key down until its alternate characters are displayed. 

To choose one of the characters displayed, type the number that appears under the character, or click the character you want to use. If you decide you don't want to type an accented character after holding a key, type another character, or press the escape (Esc) key.

If no additional characters are available for the key you're holding, the pop-over menu doesn't appear. The menu also isn't displayed when the Key Repeat slider is set to Off in the Keyboard pane of System Preferences.

Emoji and other symbols

You can use the Character Viewer to insert smileys, dingbats, and other symbols when you’re typing.

  1. Click your document where you want the character to appear.
  2. From the Edit menu, choose Emoji & Symbols (or choose Special Characters in some versions of OS X).
  3. Search for the character you want using the search field, or click the view button   to browse different categories of characters you can use.
  4. When you find the character you want, double-click it to insert it in your text.

If this is a symbol you use often, it automatically appears in the Frequently Used list in this window. In Messages, recent characters are also displayed when you click the   button.

Repeat a character

Some keys repeat when you hold them down, depending on where you type them. Hold down the Space bar or symbol keys (like hyphen or equals) to make these characters repeat in most apps. In apps where accented characters aren't used – like Calculator, Grapher, or Terminal – letter and number keys also repeat when you hold them down.

If one or more characters isn't repeating, check the Keyboard pane of System Preferences to make sure that the Key Repeat slider isn't set to Off. If a key isn't designed to repeat in the app you’re using, copy the character to the clipboard. Then, hold Command-V to paste the character or word repeatedly.

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