How to Make Symbols on a Mac

How to Make Symbols on a Mac

Apple’s macOS platform is renowned for its intuitive user interface, efficient performance, and sleek design. Yet, when it comes to certain functionalities – like typing special symbols – newcomers might find themselves a tad lost. Don’t fret; making symbols on a Mac is straightforward once you know how. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you with that.

  1. Using the Keyboard Shortcuts
    Many common symbols can be typed using keyboard shortcuts. Here are some standard shortcuts:

© (Copyright): Option + G

™ (Trademark): Option + 2

° (Degree): Shift + Option + 8

  • (Bullet): Option + 8
    “ ” (Curly Quotes): Option + [ or Option + Shift + [
    — (Em dash): Option + Shift + –
    These shortcuts might take some time to memorize, but they are handy and can significantly speed up your typing process.
  1. Using the Character Viewer
    The Character Viewer is a built-in feature on Macs that offers a wide range of symbols, from currency signs to mathematical notations.

Activating the Character Viewer: Go to Apple menu → System Preferences → Keyboard. Check the box next to “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar.”

Accessing Symbols: Click on the newly visible input menu in the menu bar (looks like a flag or character) and choose “Show Character Viewer.” A window will pop up displaying an array of symbols. You can pick a category from the left sidebar and double-click on any symbol to insert it.

  1. Using the Option Key
    The Option key (labeled as ‘alt’ on some keyboards) is your gateway to a vast array of symbols.

Simply hold down the Option key and press various letters or numbers to produce different symbols. For instance, Option + E followed by a vowel will create an accented vowel (á, é, í, etc.).

For an extended selection, try holding down Option + Shift along with other keys.

  1. Custom Keyboard Shortcuts
    If there’s a specific symbol you use regularly that doesn’t have a convenient keyboard shortcut, macOS allows you to create custom ones.

Go to Apple menu → System Preferences → Keyboard → Shortcuts.

Choose “App Shortcuts” from the left sidebar, then click the “+” button.

In the dialog box, under “Menu Title,” type the exact name of the menu item for which you want to create a shortcut. Then click in the “Keyboard Shortcut” box and type your chosen key combination.

  1. Using the Keyboard Viewer
    If you’re unsure about where certain symbols are located on your keyboard:

First, ensure that the “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar” option is enabled (as mentioned in point 2).

Click on the input menu in the menu bar and choose “Show Keyboard Viewer.” You’ll see a virtual keyboard reflecting the keys on your physical one.

As you press Shift, Option, or both, the virtual keys will change to show you various symbols available.

  1. Explore Third-Party Apps
    Several third-party applications are designed to enhance your typing experience on Mac. One of the most notable is PopChar. It integrates with macOS and allows users to find and insert special characters and symbols conveniently.

Tips and Tricks

Remember Combinations: The more you use certain combinations, the more intuitive they will become. For instance, the Option key often provides a symbol variant of a key (like Option + E for é), while Option + Shift offers another variant (like Option + Shift + K for , the Apple logo).

Use Spotlight: If you know the name of a symbol, you can type it into Spotlight Search, and it will often suggest the symbol which you can copy and paste.

Emoji and Symbols Menu: In many apps, you can access a quick menu for emoji and symbols by pressing Control + Command + Space. This is especially useful for inserting emojis in your texts.

Mac’s ecosystem, once understood, provides a seamless and efficient user experience. Symbol insertion, while initially seeming complex, is no exception. Whether you’re drafting a professional document, writing a mathematical paper, or simply messaging a friend, the tools provided by macOS make it incredibly easy to convey your thoughts precisely. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to navigate the world of symbols on your Mac with ease.