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I'm finding that using ASCII characters between windows and OSX is very cumbersome because it seems all the PC codes use the keypad, and the Mac doesn't.

Are there any characters, at all, that I can use one keyboard input and get the same ASCII character on both a Mac and PC?

i.e. OSX - alt+6='character 1' and PC: alt+6='character 1' same keyboard shortcut on both platforms, same result. Anything like this?

share|improve this question
How could that possibly help you with typing? Are you sure you're not asking for Keyboard Layout Creator or Ukelele? Also, ASCII ends at 0127, you're probably asking about codepage 437... – Daniel Beck Jan 20 '12 at 20:25
easy, if you're entering passwords same keyboard mapping would be great. Yeah, i only meant Alt+6 as a bland example, not a specific keystroke. Just trying to illustrate using the same shortcut on each platform for the same ASCII symbol. – hwp08 Jan 20 '12 at 20:27
You seem to be conflating concepts from several (many?) different levels of interpretation. Hardware, character set, OS level interpretation and program level interpretation. I think you need to be much more precise about what you are asking. Note, that almost all the ASCII characters use the same keystrokes on Macs and Wintel boxes, but that just the Latin alphabet, Arabic numerals a bit of punctuation and some control codes. Almost everything that you have to jump through hoops to enter is not ASCII. – dmckee Jan 20 '12 at 20:43
@dmckee Indeed point well taken. Didn't realize the depth of the question perhaps. An easy way to strengthen passwords is using characters from the ASCII set, but it's not really 'convenient' to have to constantly change between PC and Mac for those who are frequently on both systems. So in a short, uneducated way, I was just asking if there's an easy way to input ASCII characters on both PC and Mac without having to learn both systems. – hwp08 Jan 20 '12 at 22:03
Er..."a" is a character from the ASCII set as are "|", "2", "Q" and "%". Are you asking about non-printing characters? There are better ways to strengthen a password than that, and they are less prone to weird system dependencies. – dmckee Jan 20 '12 at 23:16
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It really depends on the keyboard layout (e.g. Croatian) you have selected for your system.

In my experience, US/British layouts are almost identical between Windows and OS X. The safe characters are usually those you can type on both keyboard by using no or only the Shift modifier key. Incidentally, they are always printed on the keyboard, so you can quickly figure out which are the same on both your systems.

If you don't have a physical Mac keyboard, you can always open the keyboard viewer via System Preferences » Language & Text » Input Sources » Show Input menu in menu bar and the menu's Show Keyboard Viewer item.

Mac OS X simply does not support Alt codes as part of regular keyboard layouts. There is a Unicode Hex Input keyboard layout, but it will break regular use of the Option key, e.g. to navigate words (Option-Left, Option-Shift-Right, etc., as well as the regular Option keyboard shortcuts).

On Windows, many keyboard shortcuts trigger with Altplus some other key (including menu bar items), so that's probably not a useful solution.

share|improve this answer
The option key on the Mac serves roughly the same purpose as the alt key on a Windows box (i.e. option-u, u makes ü, option-s makes ß, option-`, a makes à, etc...), though they certainly don't map precisely together. – dmckee Jan 20 '12 at 20:48
@dmckee I am unable to replicate this Alt behavior on my Windows system. Could you give me an example keyboard layout and key combination with only Alt that work? – Daniel Beck Jan 20 '12 at 20:52
I don't know the Windows way, and the "same purpose" comment was intended at a pretty high level: to get characters which don't have a simple representation on the keyboard, and as an alternate shifting key for programs that want a lot of hot-keys. – dmckee Jan 20 '12 at 20:56
@Daniel Beck, on Windows if you switch your keyboard to English-United States-International via "Region and Language" control panel, you can enter things with the right (not left) ALT key. For example, ß (alt-b), ü (alt-y), Ø (alt-L). – Peon Jan 20 '12 at 21:29
@Peon There is no "right alt key" on Windows. It's AltGr. Still, those are obviously very different between operating systems (and keyboard layouts) and don't help the OP. – Daniel Beck Jan 20 '12 at 21:49

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