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I'd like to be able to use a keyboard shortcut to type special characters (characters that can't be found on my keyboard) such as the £ (pound) symbol, which I can get on a keyboard with a number pad by typing Alt+0163. Unfortunately, on my netbook, I don't have a number pad.

How then do I get special characters, using the keyboard, without using charmap?

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shift + 3 ;) .. – Matt Ellen Oct 20 '10 at 23:04
Possible duplicate of How to input special characters w/o numpad? – Dave Jun 26 at 6:59
Hi @Dave! The other question has a specific constraint that I did not have - "without any kind of numeric keyboard (even not one accessed by FN)". This question is more open-ended and ultimately allowed for the Accepted Answer below which specifically pointed me towards an answer that would not satisfy the other question. – Ryan Shripat Jun 27 at 12:13
Possible duplicate of Typing strange letters¿ w/o numpad? – Ben N Jun 27 at 22:46
Ah, that makes sense. I've retracted my close vote and edited the question to make its non-duplicateness clearer. – Ben N Jun 28 at 15:20

11 Answers 11

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Often times, your netbook might have a function key which will change 7,8,9,U,I,O,J,K,L, and M into a number pad. You can use these to do Alt+ combinations. Alternatively, open the Character Map (Under Accessories in the start menu) to select individual characters.

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Thanks, I'll check this out and let you guys know if it works... – Ryan Shripat Oct 21 '10 at 21:12
My laptop does not have a numeric keyboard or numlock - apparently Lenovo decided it's a thing of the past? So, in hunting through CHARMAP program I can't find the Euro symbol. Any clue where it is, or how else to type the ALT keycodes without a numeric keypad? – Jay Imerman Apr 1 '14 at 17:26
@JayImerman Search for U+20AC in the charmap (they're in order, it's almost at the very bottom) – Darth Android Apr 1 '14 at 17:37

You can use some macro program like AutoHotkey to bind it to specified hotkeys.

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..interesting... – Ryan Shripat Oct 21 '10 at 21:13
Care to show some examples? – Ivo Flipse Oct 22 '10 at 11:21
sry, haven't used it, yet ;) – schöppi Oct 22 '10 at 11:35

If you have a Windows operating system [such as Vista or 7 -- I'm not sure about XP] then you can use the Character Map. I actually discovered it by accident. Before then I thought my future laptop [that I plan to purchase] would require a numeric keypad, but now I guess I won't be needing it, thanks to the Character Map [I have Windows Vista, but plan to upgrade to Windows 7].

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  1. The keypad on a laptop is located on keys

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

  1. You must engage the keypad. Find and hold the fn key and press the Num Lock key. On my laptop it is located on the Scroll Lock key. A little led bulb should light to show that the keypad function is engaged.
  2. Now you can type in the alt symbols ALT + Fn + MJ89 = ½ symbol
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Although I did not activate the Num Lock this solution works. – Vesnog May 6 '15 at 14:45

You could change your keyboard layout to United States–International. It takes a little getting used to, but not so much as I had thought. Then you would make the £ symbol by depressing 4 (not on the number pad) + Shift + Right Alt. Also, if you type diacritical marks often, this layout is especially useful.

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worth a shot - might be the best route! – Ryan Shripat Oct 21 '10 at 21:13
Or use the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (free) to make the perfect layout. It's surprisingly easy. I'd say easier than getting used to the dead keys in the US International layout. – romkyns Dec 4 '14 at 20:18

I've been searching for weeks, and I finally figured out that I can enter the UNICODE (not ascii) code for a symbol, highlight it, and press alt + x in most Microsoft programs (office suite, also google's chrome. It is definitely software-specific, but it works in word and excel. TO make it even faster, I created an "autocorrect" entry in those programs to replace /b6 with ¶, and /a7 with §. good to go.

(I write for a judge, and I need to enter the above paragraph, section symbols 75 times each day. I run Windows 8 on a Lenovo Yoga 13 netbook (first computer without numpad), and I was lost without the Alt+numpad access to ASCII set until now!)

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You could download the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator and put the symbols you use most on unused keys. I use AltGr+Q, W, E & R for the symbols I need.

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This was a cool find! – Ryan Shripat Apr 28 at 14:28

It depends on your hardware, your operating system and the application you are using.

Some notebook PCs have a way of simulating a numeric keypad by using additional meta keys (Fn, Ctrl, Alt etc)

Some operating systems support alternative keyboard layouts or input method editors. For example I have a Windows PC with a UK keyboard (and hence no problem with £) in the system notification area I have a keyboard icon from which I can choose UK or UK-extended keyboards. The extended one lets me compose additional accented characters. Maybe there is an extended keyboard for your locale that supports a key combination for £.

Finally applications such as MS Word have their own means of inputting special characters - see the application help.

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Charmap is good but if you have to use too often for the same character, it becomes tiring. In that case, you can use the following utility and put your often used characters on a custom menu in the order that you want. Then you can invoke this menu on any editor by Alt-Shift-C:

CatchChar custom menu utility

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In lenovo g40, you just go to insert then go to symbol and you select the special character you need in your document.

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Welcome to Super User! While this may answer the question, it would be a better answer if you could provide some explanation why it does so. – DavidPostill Mar 7 at 16:38

You can buy an external numeric pad as an alternative or use Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. All laptops under 15 inch i've seen have that problem.

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