How do I access multilingual or symbol characters?
For occasional access the simplest way is to use an on-screen keyboard utility such as Character Map (Windows) or Character Palette (Mac OS X). These bring up a visual keyboard on screen for selecting characters.
For more extensive character input it is best to use change your language settings to allow you to use your keyboard.
On-screen character layout utility
You can insert multilingual characters, letters with accent marks and special characters such as symbols into your documents using the Character Map (Windows) or Character Palette (Mac OS X). These utilities allow you to view the characters in a selected font, then copy/paste them into your document.
Character Map (Windows)
To open Character Map, select Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map. The Character Map will then appear on screen. Simply change the font and scroll through the display of characters, then select a desired character. You can copy individual or a group of characters to the Clipboard and paste them into any program that can display them.
You can copy individual characters or a group of characters to the Clipboard and paste them into any program that can display them. Or, depending on the program you are using (such as WordPad), you can even copy characters by dragging them from Character Map directly into an open document.
For more information on the Character Map in Windows click here.
Character Palette (Mac OS X)
The Character Palette will appear in the Edit menu in any Mac OS X native application program.
1. Simply open an application, place your cursor at the desired place.
2. Select Edit > Special Characters. This will open the Character Palette.
3. Choose the type of characters you want to see from the View pop-up menu at the top of the Character Palette window.
4. Select an item in the list on the left to see the characters that are available in each category.
5. In the right column, double-click the character or symbol to insert it into your document.
Note: The Character Palette menu item is only available in applications that were specifically designed to work with Mac OS X (native applications). You can open the Character Palette using International preferences. Choose the Apple menu > System Preferences, and select International. Next, select Input Menu, then select the checkbox next to Character Palette, and then choose Show Character Palette from the input menu in the menu bar (the one that looks like a flag or character).
Note: If the character doesn't appear in your document, you may be using an application that doesn't support that character. Try a different character or try to insert it in a different application.
For more information on the Character Palette in Mac OS X, click here.
Using your keyboard to input different languages
Both Windows and Mac OS X provide tools to change the language or keyboard layout. When you enable/install additional languages it will allow you to access the multingual characters in a font, if they are available.
The Language bar enables you to easily switch between different languages for typing on the keyboard (and other input methods). The language bar will appear in the taskbar if you add a second language or keyboard layout. You can move the Language bar anywhere on your screen, minimize it to the taskbar, or make it nearly transparent. If you do not use it, you can close it. You should remove text services that you do not use, as they require computer memory and can affect performance.
To add an input locale and keyboard layout:
1. Open Regional and Language Options in Control Panel (click Start > Control Panel > Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options > Regional and Language Options)
2. Select the Languages tab, then select Details button in Text Services and input languages section.
3. In the Text Services and Input Languages screen, select Add.
3. Select the input locale and keyboard layout or Input Method Editor (IME) you want to add.
For more information on the Language bar in Windows, click here.
For information on Windows Keyboard Layouts, click here.
Mac OS X
Mac OS X allows you to write text in many languages, and to use fonts with multilingual character sets. The language you write in can be different from the language that your menus and dialogs are in, and even different from the characters on the keyboard you're using.
1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, and select International.
2. Select Input Menu, and then select the desired keyboard layout or input method by selecting its checkbox.
3. Open an application program, then select the keyboard layout or input method for the desired language from the input menu at the right side of the menu bar.
4. Start typing.
- If you don't know what keys to press, choose Show Keyboard Viewer from the input menu.
- Not all applications support all languages. If the keyboard layout or input method is dimmed (not available) in the input menu, the current application doesn't support that language.
For more information on international keyboard layout in Mac OS X, click here.
Notes on using multilingual fonts:
Once installed, the keyboards can be activated and used in most applications. Usually you have to toggle the keyboard from the default by using a toolbar or similar.
It should be noted that not all applications support proper Arabic & Hebrew text layout (right-to-left, diacritical mark placement), and a font will not fix that.