Musical Notations and Mathematical Symbols. Currency, Geometrical Shapes, Special Punctuation and Braille Patterns. The list goes on and on. Symbols and Special Characters. We know what they are and we know our computer has the capability to present them, but how??
With the built in Character Palette in OS X, inserting any one of an incredible collection of these special characters is a snap, but you’ve got to know where to get them. Here’s how…..
When working in most applications, you may invoke the Character Palette by selecting Special Characters… from the Edit menu:
This will bring up the Character Palette. Notice at the top left of the window that it displays the default view, and in this case, Roman:
Clicking on the view menu present a list of options, including the option to view an incredible amount of categories by selecting All Characters:
Now that we have selected to view all categories, take a look at the category sets on the left hand side of the window:
Here I have select to expand the Symbols set to further view the Symbol categories. The categories are on the left and the symbols related to the category appear on the right:
I can continue exploring and once I find a character I wish to use, simply copy and paste it into a document, email or spreadsheet. Double clicking the character will also insert it into the current document.
If I know the name of a character I’m looking for, I can simply type the name in the search box at the bottom of the window:
Although the Character Palette is available via the Edit menu in most applications as I mentioned above, we can also make it available to us anytime. To do so, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences and click on the International icon:
Once in the International Preferences, click on the (1.) Input Menu at the top and then make sure both (2.) Character Palette and (3.) Keyboard Viewer are checked. Finally, make sure (4.) Show input menu in menu bar is also checked:
Now close out of System Preferences and notice that you now have a new icon in your Menu Bar. If your computer’s primary language is set to US English as mine is, the icon will be that of an American Flag. Clicking on this icon will show you the option for invoking both the Character Palette and the Keyboard Viewer:
Clicking on the Show Character Palette option will bring up the Character Palette, just as choosing Special Characters from an application’s Edit menu did above. In addition, we now have the option of Show Keyboard Viewer. This presents us with an onscreen keyboard that when we click it’s keys or type on our keyboard, shows us the available characters base on the keystroke we perform. For example, if we hold down the Shift Key, all of the characters will visually become uppercase, as they normally do when holding down the Shift Key.
Conclusion: Take a few minutes to explore and have fun with this. The Character Palette is an incredibly useful tool, although an unfortunately little know one.