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Blog: How to Make International Accent Marks, and a Modern Day Fable

How to Make International Accent Marks, and a Modern Day Fable

I have been thinking about writing this blog for over five months.

Hi! I’m Christina, creator, founder and overall adventurous badass behind Wandersoul. I could tell you all about Wandersoul right now. Except I can’t. That is the thing that has stopped me from writing about tech and web design and life, both on the road and at the beach and everywhere in between, for months. My best friend even gave me this great idea to introduce myself and what this business means, and I still haven’t been able to put it into words.

So, instead it’s story time — a short paraphrased parable. One of my favorites. There’s this meme that goes around Facebook every once in a while and I think it’s worth reposting every single time. It probably shows up on my feed over 10 times in the last few years. The gist of the meme is this: a girl was telling her therapist that she always had anxiety about leaving her curling iron on when she left for work. Instead of directly attempting to cure the anxiety, the therapist suggested grabbing one of those heat safe bags and bringing her curling iron with her to work. That way, there was nothing to worry about. Several other people chime in about their similar experiences. The moral: life is weird. Sometimes you can’t do the thing you meant to do in the exact way you meant to do it. But you sure as hell can always make an effort to find another way.

So here I am, finding another way. Wandersoul is my own life adventure, and yours if you choose. But I’ll get to that another day.

Today, I am here to talk to you about how to get those pesky international accent marks over letters when working on your computer. Sure, these days Microsoft Word and Google Docs probably recognize most instances of needing to turn fiance into fiancé (or fiancée if you’re a female!) with an accent mark, but what about the times when you need to insert a special character for a headline on your website, or inside some other software which could care less that you’re sophisticated in your language use? Well I have got the answer for you!

Disclaimer: For now my tech advice is all PC based. I’ll be transitioning to a Mac soon and will be sure to update when I’ve got the answers.

First the (mostly) easy way: should you need a letter with an international accent mark or an umlaut or an ~ (how do you even spell ~?) the quickest way is to do a search on Google for the exact letter you need. The one caveat here is that depending on where you need to paste the character, the formatting might really kill your vibes. There’s nothing worse than pasting from an outside source and literally every line of text shifts in some strange way that can’t be replaced without starting over. I’m not saying it’s happened to me, but it’s definitely happened to me. Ugh.

Pros: takes very little time, works on nearly any device
Cons: the formatting might be a pain to take care of; you might not know what to search for (who knows what an umlaut really is?)

Second, the tech way: I am here to teach you about tech, aren’t I? 🙂 This one takes a bit of diving into computer settings, but if you use the symbols often it is absolutely worth it. (Note: you’ll want to have the Language Pack installed on Windows 10.)

  1. Navigate to the Time & Language Settings in your Control Panel. This can be done easily by typing “Time & Language settings” into the search bar, or opening the Control Panel and finding the correct folder.
  2. Click on “Language”.
  3. Under Preferred Language click on the Default App Language. Click on the “Options” button to open a new screen.
  4. Under Keyboards click “Add a Keyboard” and scroll to click on “United States-International”.

At this point you should have access to make letters by combining a symbol with a letter. For example ‘ + e = é. You hit them in succession, the symbol first, then the letter with nothing in between.

If you aren’t yet seeing the results above, you may need to change one more thing:

  1. Go back to Language settings and scroll to the bottom. Click on “Choose an input method to always use as default”.
  2. Select the United States-International keyboard.

Now you should most definitely have the ability to make accents and all kinds of silly letters (I’m looking at you mustache – õ) with your keyboard. If you still don’t have this ability, please contact me and I’ll see what I can do to get you sorted out soon.

Pros: you always have the symbols you need at your fingertips
Cons: until you get used to it you may still need to google the exact keys to hit for a certain letter (Pro tip: bookmark a copy of this page that spells out all the letters and symbols I know how to make); there is a learning curve around how the keys work

Overall I think that taking the time to set up the keyboard shortcuts is the best case in the long run. If you rarely use symbols you can go the other route, but always be mindful of formatting!

I hope this helps ease one small frustration for you today! I’ll be back again soon with more helpful hints to make your tech lives easier.

Until then,

Keep Wandering

Common Sense Filters, the meme: