How To Type Symbols On Your Mac

There are a lot of symbols that you may want to enter while you are using your Mac. Not all symbols and characters appear on the Apple keyboard. Even though they are not on your keyboard, it does not mean that they don’t exist. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to find the symbol you need. This article explains how you can easily enter symbols into a document, email, or text message.

There are basically two ways:

  1. You can use keyboard combinations (shortcuts).
  2. You can also use the Keyboard Character Viewer.

You can also customize your shortcut symbols.

See also: USB Keyboard Not Working On Your Mac?

Foreign characters

Here are some of the most common foreign characters.

Symbol Description Shortcut
¡ Upside-down exclamation mark Option+1
¿ Upside-down question – inverted- mark Shift+Option+?
Ç,ç French C cedilla Shift+Option+C (caps)
Option+C (lowercase)
ß German Sharp/Double S Option+S
Ø,ø Nordic O slash Shift+Option+O (caps)
Option+O (lowercase)
Å,å Nordic A ring Shift+Option+A (caps)
Option+A (lowercase)
« » Spanish/French quotation marks Option+\
Ú Latin uppercase U with acute Shift+Option+;
Ô Latin uppercase O with circumflex Option + Shift + j
Ò Latin uppercase O with grave Option + Shift + l
Ï Latin uppercase I with diaeresis Option + Shift + f
 Latin uppercase A with circumflex Option + Shift + m
ı Latin lowercase dotless I Option + Shift + b
Æ,æ Latin  Æ Option + Shift + ‘ (caps)
Option + ‘(lowercase)

Currency symbols

Here is how you can enter currency symbols.

Symbol Description Shortcut
¢ Cent Option+4
£ UK Pound Option+3
¥ Japanese Yen Option+Y
Euro Shift+Option+2
ƒ Dutch Florin Option+F
$ US Dollar Shift+4

Copyright and trademark symbols

Here is how you can enter the trademark and copyright symbols on your Mac.

Symbol Description Shortcut
© Copyright symbol Option+G
® Registered Option+R
Trademark Option+2
Apple symbol Option+Shift+k

Punctuation marks

Here is how you can enter the punctuation marks on your Mac.

Symbol Description Shortcut
Left double quotation mark Option+[
Right double quotation mark Option+Shift+[
Left single quotation mark Option+]
Right single quotation mark Option+Shift+]
Double low quotation mark Option+Shift+w
Bullet – dot Option+8
Paragraph symbol Option+7
§ Section Option+6
En-dash Option+-
Em-dash Shift+Option+-

Mathematical symbols

Are you a mathematician? Then following shortcuts are for you.

Symbol Description Shortcut
# Number sign Option+3
÷ Division Option+?
Less than or equal to Option+<
Greater than or equal to Option+>
^ Circumflex Option+i
Square root Option+v
Not equal to Option+=
Almost equal to Option+x
± Plus-minus Option+Shift+=
Infinity Option+5
ø Empty set Option+o
Summation or Sigma Option+w
ƒ Function Option+f
Integral Option+b
Partial differential Option+d
Per Mil (1/1000) Shift+Option+R
µ Micro Option+m
Ω Ohm or omega sign Option+z
Product Pi Symbol Shift+Option+p
Δ Delta/Difference Option+j
π Pi symbol Option+p
° The degree symbol Shift+Option+8
¬ Not sign Option + l
Diamond or lozenge Option + Shift + v

See also: Keyboard Double Space Problem

Using the Keyboard Character Viewer

macOS has a rather useful built-in utility called the Keyboard Viewer. You can use this tool to have access to nearly all Unicode & special characters. There are two ways to use this tool:

  1. Use its shortcut to open it: Press Control–Command–Space bar. This will open a popup that lets you enter all kinds of emojis and symbols. You can open this popup anytime you want. When you are done, you can click the (x) icon to close it. Character Viewer
  2. You can also add this option in your menu bar for easy access. You will need to activate it. Here is how:
    1. Click the Apple menu and System Preferences.
    2. Click Keyboard.
    3. Check the “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar” box. Keyboard viewer
    4. Now you will see the Keyboard Viewer in the menu bar.Keyboard viewer in menu bar to enter symbols
    5. Click the icon, and then click Show Emoji and Symbols. There are a lot of symbols that you can enter easily.

Creating custom Mac keyboard shortcuts symbols

You can create custom shortcuts for all keyboard symbols so that you can input easily. You may want to do this, for example, if you need to enter certain symbols very often. Here is how:

  1. Click the Apple menu and System Preferences.
  2. Click Keyboard.
  3. Click the Text tab.
  4. You can add or remove (by clicking the plus or minus sign).Custom symbols

See also: How To Show Hidden Files On Your Mac

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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1 thought on “How To Type Symbols On Your Mac”

  1. Brilliant list, but it does not help with my symbol.

    I live in French territory and am quite comfortable typing English on it even though it has big differences. For example, when I switch between French and US International with the top bar, I cannot find square brackets. Same for curly brackets and more when using Sublime Text or Brackets. The French seem to think these symbols are unnecessary, or made so many extra characters that they ran out of space for keys.

    Even if I switch to US, these symbols are not obvious using key combinations I try. On a PC it is supposed to be Alt + 91 and 93, so what is that key combination in MAC?

    How would you deal with this situation?


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