How to do "arcane coding" symbols.

I wanted to insert the icon for “cents”, as in “my .02 cents”. Looked in F.A.Q. in User Control Panel. Can’t find where to look to learn the list of coding keystrokes to do things like that. I know that folks embed Greek and other symbols for math, other languages, etc.

Where do I find those instructions?

Thanks in advance,


Have seen the info on special coding, but the way to do it on an Apple makes no sense. " Alt + 155 " is the icon keystroke for a cents sign in Windows.

This, from Dex’s locked thread on the topic:

Apple Menu ? When I hold down both the option/alt key and the shift key, and type in 155, I get this: ⁄fifi

Hmmm. :dubious:

Aie !! On the Apple Keyboard, Option / Alt held down and then hit 4.


The instructions I quoted didn’t make sense. Fumbled over the right keystrokes. Please, for future attempts, what was meant by " KeyCaps and Apple Menu" ?

One way is to use Character Map, which should come with MS Windows. Another is to copy and paste from another source. But here it is – ¢ – for you to copy and paste.

Thank you for that, Giles. I’m on a Mac. And- considering the current hardware environment- I should say, a Mac with only Mac-OS running. :slight_smile:

Right – doesn’t the Mac OS have some kind of utility program that allows you paste special characters into an application? It’s a very useful function, and should be pretty easy to code.

But the other way, of copying from another source, should be available to Mac users. For example, you could use [Unicode/Character_reference/0000-0FFF]( reference/0000-0FFF) from Wiki Books.

That is great !!

Let’s see …

¡ ™ £ ¢ ∞ § ¶ • ª º

å ∫ ç ∂ ´ƒ © ˙ ˆ∆ ˚ ¬ µ ˜ø π œ ® ß † ¨√ ∑ ≈ ¥ Ω

That’s a good start and that’s just using the mac keyboard. Gonna go check out Giles’ link. Thank you so much for the info.

Be advised that if you do that around here, you’ll get mocked for how cheap your ideas are. One fiftieth of a cent isn’t very much. :wink:

Do you work for Verizon?

No. Why ?

They made a similar “.02 cents”-type statements, with slightly bigger consequences.

I don’t know how much you’ve figured out so far, but here’s some hints on special characters with the Mac.

Holding down Option and pressing a letter will yield a variety of characters. Holding down Option + Shift will produce even more.

The e, u, i, n and ` keys are additionally special in that they can produce combinations. If you hold down Option with one of these, then release Option, then type a key, it will produce some common accent or diacritical marks.

e=acute (á) [hold Option,type e, release, type a]
u=diaresis/umlaut (ä)
i=circumflex (â)
n=tilde (ã)

However, the Option key trick is not guaranteed to work with every font. Some simply put some other symbols there (though those that do are pretty much standardized.) It’s also dependent on the Input Source, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

How do you then determine what’s going to be written when you press a key? That’s where “Key Caps” came in. Although it’s not called Key Caps anymore, which may be why you had trouble finding it. Well that, and it’s quite well hidden. And it’s not as important, since it’s less useful than it once was. Key Caps started life as DA with a very simple and useful function. It shows a picture of your keyboard. On each key is exactly what will appear when you press that key (except for keys like Shift, Option, or Delete). When you hold Option or Shift, the view changes each time, so you can see always see what will result.

Well, you used to, anyway. In 10.5 (Leopard) Apple stupidly changed it so that you can only see the ‘standard’ mapping and a few other fonts. If you’re lucky enough to have an earlier version of the OS, you’ll still be able to see exactly what you want. Even in Leopard it can still be useful regardless if you don’t know the symbols yet.

“Key Caps” is now known as the “Keyboard Viewer”. To access it, you need to enable it in the Input Menu. (Back in the OS 9 days, it was under the Apple Menu, but that’s long ago now. If that really is what you meant by “Mac OS”, then just open it from there and forget everything else). Assuming you don’t have an unusual setup, the Input Menu is a little flag at the top right of the Menu Bar (top of the screen). If you Computer is configured for the US, it’s a tiny American flag. For now, click on it and then select “Open International”. The International Preferences will open.

If the Input Menu isn’t displayed, or for an alternate way to get to these settings — open the System Preferences (lightswitch or set of gears in the Dock, or via the Apple Menu at the upper left). The International is indicated by a UN flag.

This seems like a lot, but you only have to do this setup once. In the International Preferences, there’s three options (Language, Formats, and Input Menu). Select “Input Menu”. You should see a few options at the very top above a separator. One of these is “Keyboard Viewer”. Next to it is a Checkbox under the “On” column, and if you check it, it’ll now be visible. Just for fun, make sure that “Character Palette” is checked on as well. I’ll mention it in the next post. When you’re done, close the International window.

Now that the Keyboard Viewer is enabled, you still have to show it (but doing so is easy via the Input Menu). Select the Input Menu, and select “Show Keyboard Viewer”. Now you’ve got a nice little diagram that lights up whenever you press a key. Hold down Option, and you can see your special characters. The diacritical marker keys will be highlighted when they will do something special.

Now, what if you want something not available that way (like ð, or ⌘, or something unique to a font?) That’s where the Character Palette comes in. More in the next post.

Weird; I thought I posted this already. Perhaps even the server got bored.

The first thing to look at is the “View” pull-down menu. It might be showing “Roman” by default, I think. If you click it, you can see three divisions. The top group will have Roman, along with Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. “All Characters” will be below that. Selecting one of these gives a display of symbols grouped by category (or by radical for the Asian characters). There will also be the “Favorites” button, where you can put characters you want to use often (click the gear symbol at the bottom left to add a symbol to Favorites).

To actually add a character to something you’re typing, you can select it, and then click the “Insert” button at the bottom. You can also drag any depiction of a character directly to the app you want it inserted into.

That’s the basic information for adding special characters. Read on for more detail.
Down at the bottom of this window, there’s a couple of items with disclosure triangles - “Character Info” and “Font Variations”. The first gives a close-up view, name or other identifying info (for the Chinese characters, you get transliteration help). Also here is the somewhat useful “related” bar.

The “Font Variation” provides access to another special function. Firstly, it can show what a character looks like in any font that has it, or in a font collection. Secondly, you can select from there, and “Insert” changes to “Insert with Font”. “Insert with font” doesn’t work in every program, though, but when it does, it will give you what’s shown in the picture.

Additionally, the “View” pull-down menu gives a few more options at the bottom. “Code Tables” view organizes by Unicode number or other encodings. “Glyph” and “PIFonts” do something similar. Both of these get rid of the “Font Variations” bar at the bottom. That’s because each will show all the symbols that are available from a font. Those are in fact called ‘glyphs’, hence the name for this view. In these views, everything is “Insert with Font”; to see a different font, select it from the top bar.

Side note: PIFonts are the ones that show up in Keyboard Viewer in OS X; they’re the kind that have variations from the standard mapping.

Okay, last post on this, I swear. There’s one bit I didn’t clear up. In my first post, I mentioned “Input Source”. I should explain that, as it’s related and gives one other special method.

First, another thing to add about the Input Menu. To make it visible (or not) in the Menu Bar, there’s a checkbox in the International Preferences, at the bottom. Turn it on if you plan to use the Character Palette often.

Going back through the International Preferences, you can see a lot of different countries listed (often with little flag icons too). If you add one of them to your Input Menu, you now have a way of changing what happens when you press the keys. This is most useful if you’re outside of the US or need to type in a language with a special script.

If you look at the Keyboard Viewer window, across the top it will say “Keyboard Viewer (U.S.)” assuming you’re set to US as input source. If you enable another input source, the Keyboard Viewer will switch to showing that, and changes what happens. It will also change what happens when you press special keys like Option.

As an example, if you switch to “British”, you won’t see too many differences, except that Shift-3 now gives £ instead of #. Option-3 gives £ under the US input, and # under the British one. (Some complain that this still isn’t consistent with actual British keyboards, though).

Or, if you enable Devanagari, you’ll see that the ‘d’ key by default is highlighted, meaning it will be used to make a special character ( ् ), which can combine in special ways, interestingly with the previous letter (e.g. you have त[ta] त + ् = त् [t], but त + ् + न = त्न [tna] in Hindi*. Meanwhile, pressing Option while in Devanagari input gives you the Latin characters.

*Maybe. What actually shows can depend on the software; your browser may not even be displaying these at all.
Finally the one possibly interesting bit about this. There’s an input source called “Unicode Hex”. What this does is something a little like the Alt Codes in Windows. Only it’s not a Microsoft setup, so it won’t use the codes from them. Instead, it uses Unicode numbers. So if you prefer, and you happen to know the Unicode hexadecimal numbers, you can type Option+(four-digit hex number) to get a Unicode symbol, using this input method.

For example, typing Option+025A = ɚ , from the IPA (which is, er, “pirate schwa”).

There’s a neat thing about the Keyboard Viewer using this input method - when you first hit Option and start typing digits, nothing shows up until the fourth digit - at which point you can see what you’ll actually end up with.

For maps of these keyboard shortcuts that you can print out and keep handy, see:
Windows table
Apple table

This is really great stuff. Thank you all so much for this. panamajack, you really delivered !