French/Appendices/Typing characters

French accents on computers


While French keyboards are available, some French students may need to enter accented characters on an English keyboard.

If you are on the Internet, many sites have a virtual keyboard that allows you to mouse-select the characters. Google Translate, for example, has a virtual keyboard icon for entering text in the form window.

Windows Operating System


If you are using Microsoft Windows Operating System, then you can use the Character Map application, located under:

Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Character Map (Send this application to your desktop for better ease of use)

Some word processing programs allow the user to enter accents using a key combination, while others may require an Alt code.

Accent Key combination
acute accent (accent aigu) CTRL-'
grave accent (accent grave) CTRL-`
circumflex (accent circonflexe) CTRL-SHIFT-6
diaeresis (tréma) CTRL-;
cedilla (cédille) CTRL-,

The ALT code is entered by holding down the ALT key, and enter the number (all digits given) using the keypad (only the keypad).
In most applications, you will need the numlock turned on to avoid undesirable effects.

Character Code Character Code
à 133 À 0192
â 131 Â 0194
ä 132 Ä 142
æ 145 Æ 146
œ 0156 Œ 0140
ç 135 Ç 128
é 130 É 144
ê 136 Ê 0202
è 138 È 0200
ë 137 Ë 0203
î 140 Î 0206
ï 139 Ï 0207
ô 147 Ô 0212
ù 151 Ù 0217
û 150 Û 0219
ü 129 Ü 154, 0220
« 174 » 175

Mac Operating System


If you are using the Mac Operating System, there is a simple system that can be used with the Option () key. Open the System Preferences application (found in your Applications folder by default and in the Apple menu in the upper-left corner) and navigate to "Language and Text" preferences. Under the Input Sources tab, select U. S. Extended. Now you can use the following key combinations with the Option () key to form French accents.

Accent Key combination
acute accent (accent aigu) ⌥ - e
grave accent (accent grave) ⌥ - ` (the ~ key)
circumflex (accent circonflexe) ⌥ - 6
diaeresis (tréma) ⌥ - u
cedilla (cédille) ⌥ - c

For instance: Press and hold and then press e. Now you have a floating acute accent. Press e again to put the accent over that letter and form é. In the same way ⌥ - 6, then o will give you ô, etc. These shortcuts work throughout the operating system and do not depend on the application in which they are used.

Linux Operating System


If you are using Ubuntu Linux with Gnome you select the Compose key from System: Preferences: Keyboard then Layouts: Layout Options: Compose key position. You can select one of Right Alt key, Left Win-key, Right Win-key, Menu key, Right Ctrl key or Caps Lock key (for a USA keyboard layout). The Keyboard preferences dialog has an area you can use to test the settings. See below for how to use the Compose key. Ubuntu with a different window manager, such as KDE should have a similar keyboard preferences utility.

If you are using Unix or a derivative operating system (such as Linux) with XFree86, you can define a compose key by opening a terminal window and typing:

'To use the Windows menu key (between the right Windows key and right Ctrl key:

xmodmap -e "keysym Menu = Multi_key"

'To use the right Windows key:

xmodmap -e "keysym R_Meta = Multi_key"

'To use the right Alt key:'

xmodmap -e "keysym Alt_Gr = Multi_key"

To use the Compose key, press and release the Compose key, then type two characters. Combinations useful for typing in French follow:

à Compose + a + `
â Compose + a + ^
ä Compose + a + "
ç Compose + c + ,
è Compose + e + `
é Compose + e + '
ê Compose + e + ^
ë Compose + e + "
É Compose + E + '
î Compose + i + ^
ï Compose + i + "
ô Compose + o + ^
ö Compose + o + "
ù Compose + u + `
û Compose + u + ^
ü Compose + u + "