Learn how to use Alt codes to access special characters faster
How to type Alt codes
Traditionally, Alt Codes would be easily typed on a plugin keyboard (Like a desktop computer keyboard or a USB keyboard plugged into a laptop). In this case the method is simple, locate the numeric keypad on the right hand-side of your keyboard, hold down Alt and press the digits on the keypad and wait for the symbol to appear. To try this out, open any text editing software like WordPad and hold down the Alt key. While maintaining the Alt key down type 0169 on the numeric keypad. If you did it correctly, you should see appear the Copyright symbol: ©.
If you want to know the specific Alt code for a symbol on your computer, go to the search symbol in the “Windows” or “Start” Menu or the search box next to it (depending on your Windows version) and type “Charmap”. Click on the application “Character map” and you will find a comprehensive list of all the characters available for each font. Select the one you want and at the bottom right, for example: “µ”. For this symbol, at the bottom right, you will read “Keystroke: Alt+0181”. So to enter this code directly you have to hold the Alt key and type 0181 on the keypad and your “µ” symbol should appear.
You can also search the web for sites that present with a list of Alt codes for special characters, try them to check how they work. In case you have any doubt, go back to the Character Map, if it doesn’t read “Keystroke Alt+…” it means there is no Alt code available for it.
Using your keyboard
If you have a desktop computer, or use a plugged in full size keyboard, the method will always be the same: Hold Alt and type the numbers on the numeric keypad.
If you own a laptop and your keyboard doesn’t feature a numeric keypad on the right hand side, there should be two possible ways. Try which one works on your computer.
For both methods, you will need to locate keys that hold numbers as a secondary symbol on the key. Often, the three top ones are the “7,8,9” keys, underneath, besides letters you should find “4,5,6” and again below: “1,2,3” and on the last row, above the space bar, one letter or symbol should also have the “0”.
Once you have located these you have now located the alternate “numeric keypad” for laptops that do not have a full numeric keypad on the right hand side.
How can we make use of these keys to enter Alt codes?
• 1st option: depending on your computer manufacturer, try this: Hold the Alt key and type the numbers on the keys you found as described above.
• 2nd option: depending on your computer manufacturer and if the 1st option didn’t work, try this: Locate the “fn” key on your keyboard (maybe on the bottom left). Hold down both the “fn” and “Alt” at the same time and then type your code on the numeric keys we discovered previously.
• 3rd option: Use the “Num lock” or “Scroll Lock” key on your laptop. First, locate on the top right the Scroll lock or Num lock key. Hold down “fn” and press Scroll Lock or Num Lock. Release the keys. Then press and hold down Alt and type your code on the numbers in the set of numeric keys described above. When the other 2 above methods do not work in MS Office, this one may, give it a try.
As we now use a lot of different symbols and dashes, the need to be able to type these characters faster increases. A good option would be to make a list of those you use more often, print it and pin it at your desk in front of you. This will help quicken your work.
Some known issues
• Fonts: not all symbols exist in every font. If a special character you commonly use won’t appear in the text, you may need to choose a different font to be able to type it.
• Keyboard shortcuts conflicts: If you are trying to type in some programs and these have shortcuts that make use of the Alt key, you may encounter conflicts while trying to type your Alt codes. If you are working on-line through Firefox, there is an easy way to fix this, check this quick YouTube tutorial to solve it: Click here to wacth a video explaining how to solve keyboard shortcuts conflicts in Mozilla Firefox. This is especially useful if you want to use Alt codes while using Firefox. If you use online translation resources, this will surely help you to type Alt codes without facing anymore issues.
But once your overcome the keyboard issues, you will have come a long way to enable a faster and more efficient use of characters on windows PCs.
I hope this information will prove useful to you.
Fi2 n Co