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Sometimes I want to type Unicode characters (em-dash, quotes, Greek letters sometimes, superscripts etc). It can be done using character codes, but then one needs to look up / memorize them, which is… tiresome.

Is there a way to enter characters by names in Windows?

Japanese IME has something like this ― e.g. hoshi (Japanese for «star») converts to «☆» ― but for a very limited subset of Unicode.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Unicode Input by Name more or less solves the problem.

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I don't know of any tool that converts character names to characters on Windows but there are some tools that use AltGr or digraphs

See ЮNICODE Keyboard Enhancer

Key mapping

gVim has many Unicode digraphs for editing UTF-8 files

I can imagine extending UnicodeInput to do what you want.

You might be able to use a commercial text expander such as fastfox or Shortcut but use a single character as the expansion instead of a phrase.

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Not quite what I want, indeed, but interesting, thanks. – Grigory M May 21 '11 at 5:28

Is there a way to enter characters by names in Windows but for a very limited subset of Unicode?

Yes, in fact your qualification makes it a perfect candidate for hotstrings.

You can get a copy of AutoHotkey (even the portable version is sufficient) and use it to run a simple script making use of hotstrings that you can create and tailor to your needs. For example:

::hoshi::☆ ; Automatically replace “hoshi” with a star glyph
           ; or
::星::☆    ; Automatically replace the Kanji character for start with a star

; Some more examples
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There are programs such as which allow you to configure your own hotkeys. You could, in theory, create a VBS script (and assign a hotkey to it) which pops up a dialog where you type an alias and it will place the correct char code into the clipboard, which you then paste. You could create your own short list and add to it as you look up a new character code.

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I can't swear to it, but I think BabelPad might have a feature like this. If you're using Windows and don't mind limiting yourself to this particular editor (I think you wanted a more general solution), this could work for you.

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