Regardless of whether you're new to macOS or using a new keyboard, you might be struggling to find special characters and symbols. For this post, we show you how to use the Character Viewer and Keyboard Viewer to type characters such as a Euro sign on the Mac. This includes other currency signs, such as the Yen or Cent, and also special characters and symbols too.
Also read: How to Use Automator in macOS
How to Change Your macOS Keyboard Layout
You can always switch to a different keyboard layout via your Mac's System Preferences. For example, you could decide to switch to the UK keyboard layout to access some special characters.
To change your layout, first navigate to the “System Preferences -> Keyboard" screen.
From here, select the “Input Sources” tab.
On this screen, make sure you select the “Show input icon in menu bar” checkbox.
To browse all of the available keyboard layouts, select the “+” icon on the left side. From the pop-up dialog, select the keyboard layout you want to use, then click “Add.”
You can rinse and repeat here to add multiple keyboard layouts to your list.
If you take a look at the menu bar drop-down, you'll be able to switch between all of the available keyboard layouts, with a flag indicator for your preferred language.
How to Type a Euro Sign and Other Currency Symbols on Mac
There are several currency characters that are supported by the macOS keyboard that aren't displayed on the physical keys. You'll often find that pound sterling and dollar signs are available, but you'll need to hunt for the rest. If you see question mark boxes where a symbol should be, it's because the font you're using doesn't support that particular symbol.
If you need to change your font to one that supports the symbols you need, try Font Book. You can free type the symbols, then scroll through fonts to find something suitable.
Let's run through how to type various common symbols on both US and UK keyboards:
- €: Euro: for US keyboards, you can type a Euro (€) sign on Mac using Alt/Option + Shift + 2. For UK keyboards, use the Alt/Option + 2 shortcut.
- £: British Pound Sterling: US keyboards can use Alt/Option + 3, while UK keyboards will use Shift + 3.
- $ and ¢: Dollars and Cents. You can type a dollar sign using the Shift + 4 keyboard shortcut. If you want to type the cent (¢) symbol, use Alt/Option + 4
- ¥: Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan/Renminbi. Type the “¥” symbol, using the Option + Y keyboard shortcut on all keyboards.
Again, it's worth noting that this will depend on your exact keyboard layout and language, but for standard QWERTY keyboards using a variation of English, this is likely correct.
How to Use the Keyboard Viewer to Help You Find Special Characters
The Mac includes a number of accessibility features, one of which is the Keyboard Viewer. For our purposes, we can use this to find special characters on the keyboard without trial and error.
To open this, head to the Input menu in the menu bar and click "Show Keyboard Viewer."
This will bring up an overlay of your current keyboard:
From here, hold a key, and the display will change to show you what other modifiers and keys are available:
The nice thing about the Keyboard Viewer is that you'll also see the "dead keys" - those keys that you won't be able to press using a specific modifier.
How to Add More Special Characters Using the Character Viewer
If you need to use a currency symbol that isn't supported by a keyboard shortcut, you can use the built-in Character Viewer. This lets you access a range of additional characters, including arrows, bullets, stars and "letter-like symbols," such as Fahrenheit, Celsius, and the trademark sign.
To launch the Character Viewer, you can select "Edit -> Emoji & Symbols" from the menu bar of any app.
As an alternative, you can set up the Function key within the "System Preferences -> Keyboard" screen to open the Character Viewer.
Both of these options will open a quick view overlay.
If you click the Input icon in the top-right corner, you can open the full Character Viewer.
Once the screen is open, the “Currency Symbols” option will open the relevant symbols:
If you click on the symbol you want to insert, you'll also see all of the available font variations. To insert the character into your document, double-click a variation.
How to Use Text Expansion to Type Special Characters on Mac
One of the under-used features of macOS is the text expansion option. This is a way to type full sentences using shorthand letters and acronyms. It's 'txtspk' for your Mac. The functionality is also great for displaying symbols.
For example, open the "System Preferences -> Keyboard" panel, then select the "Text" tab.
Click the "Plus" icon at the bottom of this screen, type your shorthand in the "Replace" field, and the desired symbol in the "With" field.
From here, macOS will offer you the option of using the symbol whenever you type the trigger phrase.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there a way to save some of the symbols I use frequently?
Yes. You can save yourself some time typing symbols and add those you use most often to a "Favorites" folder.
Select the symbol as before, then click the “Add to Favorites” button on the right side. To remove a character from your Favorites folder, select the folder itself from the Character Viewer, click your desired symbol, and select "Remove From Favorites."
There's also a "Frequently Used" section on the Character Viewer.
2. Why do some macOS keyboards have different layouts?
In a nutshell, keyboard layouts can vary depending on your location. For example, UK and US keyboards have slightly different layouts despite supporting the same language, and other foreign language keyboards have myriad differences. It means not all keyboard shortcuts will work in all applications, especially third-party applications.
The keyboard shortcuts mentioned earlier in this article should work across all of Apple's own applications, but we can't guarantee they'll function the same across all third-party apps. This extends to non-Apple web browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox.
3. Can you type a Euro sign on Mac with different keyboard layouts such as Dvorak?
You certainly can, but there will often be a specific shortcut for your chosen keyboard layout.
4. Is there a way to let languages auto-switch based on the current document?
Yes, you can do this on Mac from the "Keyboard -> Input Sources" screen. Toggle on the "Automatically switch to a document's input source" option.
It's no sweat to type a Euro sign on Mac or any other symbol for that matter. Apple offers you many options and much flexibility. You can also learn how to type special characters in Windows 10 and Linux. Do you have any keyboard shortcuts or other special character tips not covered in this article? Let us know in the comments section below!
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