Special characters in Mac OS X

Insert ASCII accented character

Windows users don’t despair, you need this page: Using ASCII characters in Windows programs.

Accented characters: acutes, macrons, etc

An OS X Lion gem to get you started. In almost all programs on the Mac you can enter accented characters really easily. If you wish to write café for instance all you have to do when you get to e is hold down the e key momentarily and up pops a little palette with all the accented “e” choices. Click on the one you want, or press the number key below it. In this case I click on é or press the 2 key.

How easy was that?

You can also navigate to the letter you want with the arrow keys and press Enter. In some programs—Wordpress’s editor for instance—I find that clicking with the mouse or using the arrow/Enter method doubles up the letter, so I tend to use the number key option.

For everything else

There are several other ways of inserting special characters (aka ASCII characters) into your deathless prose when using Mac OS X. One way is to use your Mac’s standard keyboard shortcuts as revealed by the Keyboard Viewer. You can use the viewer to insert characters, but for characters you use often it’s much easier to memorize their key combinations, many of which are intuitive – for instance, Opt+o gives ø.

US keyboard viewer OS X

Before you can access the Keyboard Viewer easily you need to add the Input Menu to the Menulet section of the Menu Bar at the top right of your screen. To do this: Continue reading “Special characters in Mac OS X”

The great Windows, Mac and Ubuntu shoot-out

Snow white's appleWhat about Apple’s Mac?

My hands are too big for most netbook keyboards, but I have a need for a small, easily portable laptop so recently, on a whim, I bought a 13″ Apple Macbook. I was instantly bitten by the well-documented Mac bug. Not to be confused with the Windows virus.

Disclosure of interest: I really liked my Mac.

The hardware

Apple’s hardware is outstanding. The components are designed and built to an exceptionally high standard. The Mac laptop case isn’t plastic; it’s carved out of a solid chunk of aluminium. The engineering is beautiful on all Apple products. Little things stand out, like the absolute ease of changing or swapping hard drives in a G5 or a Mac Pro, and the automatic fan speed control. Everything just works and it works beautifully.

Apple-designed components like mice and keyboards are works of art and a joy to use. I don’t like touchpads. When it’s practicable, I prefer to use a mouse when working with laptops. The touchpad on the MacBook has changed all that. It is fabulous. It’s huge, it’s sensitive, and it has easy-to-use features like no-brainer two finger scrolling. It’s almost as easy to use as a mouse – in some ways, easier.

I’m impressed with the Apple keyboard and the Mighty Mouse. Continue reading “The great Windows, Mac and Ubuntu shoot-out”