Character input methods for Apple devices

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Smart Punctuation

If you are proofreading on an iPad, you should be aware that iPads come with smart punctuation enabled by default. For proofreading at DP, you will need to turn it off by going to Preferences->General->Keyboard and turn off Smart Punctuation, so that straight quotes and apostrophes will not be converted into curly ones, and so that double-hyphens will not be converted into em-dashes.

Entering accented and special characters

If you are using the on-screen keyboard, simply press and hold a key to get a list of related characters from which to select. For add-on keyboards, the method may vary. Some work by having you press the Option key and the related key and selecting the appropriate character from the popup list. Others, use the same set of key combinations outlined in our Proofreading Guidelines. Still others have key combinations that they provide in the keyboard documentation.


There are several ways built into macOS to input accented and other special characters directly from the keyboard without needing to use the character picker. The Enter characters with accent marks on Mac topic in the Mac User's Manual discusses them, but we'll cover them here too.

Using Accent Menu

The accent menu allows inputting accented characters simply by holding down a letter. Doing so will pop up an accent menu above the letter showing accented variants that exist. For instance, holding down o will show a menu that allows you to enter ôöòóœøōõ, all without leaving your keyboard.

Using "Dead Keys" Shortcuts

The keyboard viewer provides an easy way to teach yourself the keystrokes for inserting many special characters. To enable the Keyboard Viewer on your menu bar check under System Preferences->Keyboard->Input Sources and make sure "Show input menu in menu bar" is checked.

To open keyboard viewer, look for the go to the Input menu in your menu bar and choose Show Keyboard Viewer. Once you've opened the Keyboard Viewer hold down the Option (alt) key on your keyboard, and watch what all the characters on the keyboard viewer window change to. The orange ones become diacritical marks on the next key you press. For instance, Option+i then o will render ô. Try holding down option and shift together too.

If there isn't a shortcut

Choose Show Emoji & Symbols from the Input menu.

You can enter pretty much any character that's in this palette. However, remember that if it isn't in the character suite for the project, you can't use it.

There are lots of ways to look for characters, but the easiest is probably to type the name of the character in the search box. The characters that you type will be entered in the "Character" section, but under "Unicode Name", you should be shown a selection of characters that are associated with that search term.

Enabling other keyboard

You can enable other keyboards in System Preferences->Keyboard->Input Sources. The ABC - Extended keyboard is the most flexible for Latin-based characters, but you can also enable keyboards for things like Greek and Japanese.

Typing Greek

If you wish to type Greek characters directly on your Mac keyboard, please see the Mac section of the Typing Greek DP wiki page.

Forbidden characters

For proofreading, the only forbidden characters are those that are not in a project's character suites. If you attempt to use a character that is not enabled for a project, you will not be allowed to save the page, without first removing those characters.

In addition, as documented in the Unicode to ASCII mapping, there are certain characters that are disabled for all projects, which will be automatically converted into another character when files are loaded into a project. If a proofreader attempts to add one of these characters, they will not be permitted to save the page.

See Also

Working with the Proofing Interface