Whether you’re doing some Spanish homework or exchanging jokes with your French-speaking amoureux, nailing spelling in a foreign language is pretty important if you’re trying to get your point across without looking like a dunce. Adding accents is easy now, thanks to improved keyboard controls on nearly every device. No matter what phone, laptop, or desktop you’re on, you can add accented characters pretty easily, as long as you know where to look.
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Using the on-screen keyboard to input accented letters is one easy way to nail your spelling. Look for the keyboard icon on the right-hand side of your taskbar, bring up the on-screen keyboard, and hold down (or left-click and hold) your cursor over the letter you’d like to accent. You’ll see a grid of potential accented letters you can choose from. Don’t see the keyboard icon? Right-click on your taskbar to customise it, then select the “Show touch keyboard” option.
You can also switch to the international version of the traditional US keyboard, letting you employ character combinations that bring up the accents you’re looking for. From your start menu, visit Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language. You can select English (Australia) or whatever suits you better.
Microsoft has a list of keyboard combinations to enter the right accents after you’ve switched over to the international keyboard option, so you’re free to wax poetic about your favourite scene in Amélie without compromising your grammatical prowess.
You can also hit Windows – ; (that’s the Windows key plus the semicolon key) to bring up the emoji picker window if you’ve installed the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update.
There’s more than one way to add an accent in macOS. The easiest way to throw a fancy circonflexe or accent grave to your words is to hold down the letter on your keyboard. You’ll see a small pop-up above the text field in which you’re typing, complete with a number assigned to each available character. Hit the number corresponding with the accent and you’re good to go.
You can also hold the Alt-Option key, hit your letter, and bring up an accent without a letter. That way you can throw in whichever letter you choose after picking the right accent mark. Accents are assigned to particular letters on your keyboard, but you can find the associated accents and keys here.
Adding some accents to your missives in iOS is simple. Just hold your finger on the letter you’d like to accent using your iOS device’s built-in keyboard. You’ll see a pop-up of all available accent marks and symbols you can choose from. Many of the third-party keyboards you can download from the App Store, like Google’s Gboard, also support the hold-to-accent feature.
Just like iOS, you can easily add accents to characters by holding your finger on the key you’d like to accent. You’ll see the same pop-up window, where you’ll need to slide your finger over to the character you’d like to use.
This article has been updated since its original publication.