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Intermediate Level

8. Typing accented characters

Most of us in the English-speaking world do not have keyboards with characters like é and ñ. Most of the time you can type emails in Spanish and Spanish speakers will understand what you mean even without the accented characters; however, if you do want to make sure that you are not misunderstood (e.g. año = year but ano = anus) or you are somewhat of a perfectionist, you could use the following techniques to type accented characters:

  1. For PC's
  2. For Macs


A. For PC's

  1. You have to have the Num Lock key ON.
  2. You have to type the number code using the number keypad on the right of your keyboard. If you don’t have one, then this will probably not work.
  3. Hold down the Alt key and type the number for the accented character. The codes are listed below.

Alt+160 - á

Alt+181 - Á

Alt+130 - é

Alt+144 - É

Alt+161 - í

Alt+214 - Í

Alt+162 - ó

Alt+224 - Ó

Alt+163 - ú

Alt+233 - Ú

Alt+129 - ü

Alt+154 - Ü

Alt+164 - ñ

Alt+165 - Ñ

Alt+168 - ¿

Alt+173 - ¡

It does seem like typing in the Alt codes would make typing even a small email very frustrating but after a while you will start to remember most of the codes and won’t have to look them up and typing these characters will get a lot easier.

If you are in a position where you constantly need to type letters, documents, emails, etc in Spanish and you find the above codes too annoying, you will probably want to change your keyboard to an international keyboard by changing the settings in your Control Panel.

The downside to this is that your keyboard will behave a bit differently but if you are constantly in need of typing accented characters, it’s worth it and you will eventually get used to it.

If you want to change your keyboard so that you can type accented characters easily do the following:

For Windows XP:

  1. Go to the Control Panel (Start->Settings->Control Panel)
  2. Go to Regional and Language Options
  3. Click the Languages tab
  4. Click on the Details button
  5. Click the Add button (a new window is displayed)
  6. In the Keyboard layout drop down menu, select United States-International
  7. Click OK
  8. Click Apply

For Windows Vista:

  1. Go to the Control Panel (Start->Settings->Control Panel)
  2. Go to Clock, Language, Region
  3. Click on Change Keyboards and then click on the Change Keyboards button
  4. In the new window click the Add button and select  
  5. New Window: Click the Add button and pick United States-International
  6. Click OK

From the Default Input Language drop down menu, select United States International.


B. For Macs

For the accented vowels, you would press 'Option' and 'e' at the same time, release them and then press the vowel you want. It works similarly for the other accented characters.

Option + 'e', then 'a' = á

Option + 'e', then 'e' = é

Option + 'e', then 'i' = í

Option + 'e', then 'o' = ó

Option + 'e', then 'u' = ú

Option + 'e', then Shift + 'a' = Á

Option + 'e', then Shift + 'e' = É

Option + 'e', then Shift + 'i' = Í

Option + 'e', then Shift + 'o' = Ó

Option + 'e', then Shift + 'u' = Ú

Option + 'n', then 'n' = ñ

Option + 'n', then Shift + 'n' = Ñ

Option + 'u', then 'u' = ü

Option + 'u', then Shift + 'u' = Ü

Option + '1' = ¡

Shift + Option + '?' = ¿