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I am using the Windows Alt+Numpad method a lot on my desktop PC to enter special characters like n-dash (Alt+0150), hard space (Alt+0160), typographic quotes, bullets, etc. This method needs a numpad and a numlock key to switch the numpad to number output.

For roughly a decade I could also use this Alt+Numpad method on several old 15 inch Win-XP laptops (without a numpad) by holding down Fn+Alt and typing on a "simulated" numpad on the following keys:

789  -->  789
UIO  -->  456
JKL  -->  123
M    -->  0

On latest generation laptops I cannot find this method any more (tested on Dell XPS15z & Samsung Series 9). I searched the web for hours but all I could find are tips that seem outdated (using Fn+ScrollLock instead of Fn+Alt, etc - many modern 15 inch laptops have neither NumLock nor ScrollLock).

The Microsoft standard response (example) is to use the Character Map to pick, copy and paste special characters, but this is way to inefficient for frequent usage.

Is there any method to quickly enter special characters on modern Win laptops? Maybe some additional software? I cannot believe that there is no efficient way to do this on modern machines that cost +1500 EUR.

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migrated from Nov 12 '12 at 13:26

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Dennis, KronoS, Renan, n0pe, 8088 Mar 1 '13 at 4:01

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You best solution would be to use a keyboard mapping software that's can produce any key based other key combinations (e.g.: CTRL+ALT) or based on a key state (e.g.: SCROLL-LOCK). You may want to try Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, but third party software that can change the keyboard layout based on the SCROLL-LOCK state would be preferred since a lot of softwares uses CTRL/SHIFT/ALT combinations for menu shortcuts. – Jay Oct 28 '12 at 9:00
Any suggestions for a good mapping software? BTW: ScrollLock state is not a good approach as many modern laptops without numpad also don't have a ScrollLock key. – Jpsy Oct 28 '12 at 10:36
Try AutoHotkey ( It's highly customizable using scripts. Note that the Fn key doesn't have nor generate a key code. – Jay Oct 28 '12 at 13:23
Did you you find a decent solution? I am searching for something faster, than Alt+Digits. Something similar to Mac OS: Alt+Shift+- or Alt+- for m-n-dashes. – mezhaka Dec 4 '12 at 14:02
OMG more and more laptops ship without numpad on fn key - that's a disaster – Magnetic_dud Dec 15 '12 at 14:08
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I don't have encountered a laptop without a numpad yet, but I take your word for it.

I see a few options right now:

  1. Buy a standalone USB numpad. Careful, though, as some just send the regular number key scancodes and thus cannot be used as a numpad for this purpose.

  2. Create your own keyboard layout with MSKLC and include the characters you need, maybe as AltGr+Something.

  3. Create an AutoHotKey script to input characters on certain keystrokes or replace entered text by different characters while typing (sort of like Word's AutoCorrect).

  4. If the software you're working in uses RichEdit (this includes Word and WordPad) you can also type the hexadecimal code point value and press Alt+X (or Alt+C, depending on the application) to convert it into the appropriate character. That's how I type things like → all the time (because I do so mostly in IM programs which use RichEdit).

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