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On my new laptop, I see the following behavior new to me. If I press, e.g., the "-key, the '"' does not appear immediately. It changes how the next character appears, so "+a becomes ä, "+space becomes ", and so on. I guess, this functionality is called composition (but for me, it does not involve the Compose key)

This behavior is present across all applications. Furthermore, I have no application runing that provides it (like AllChars). Therefore, I guess it comes from the OS, i.e., Windows itself.

Is that right? How to control it? I couldn't find any switches. It is helpful, but some special characters I cannot produce, like the German sz. How to do that?

I have

  • Windows 10 pro, Version 1803
  • an English keyboard
  • Country is Germany, Languages English (en-DE)
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Yes, this is built in to Windows, but it's selectable/configurable.

It is likely that your default keyboard layout is set to US-International, rather than English-United States. This supports applying accents to characters, so that you can properly type most Western European languages. The "dead keys" that double as accents are `, ~, ', ", and ^, applying the grave, tilde, acute, umlaut, and circumflex accents respectively. To get the actual character, follow them with space instead of a letter that they can be applied to.

You can get the ß; hold down the right Alt key (which may or may not be marked AltGr), and press s. Note that the recently-defined upper-case ß is not available, however.

(I use this keyboard layout routinely, as I need to do multilingual document processing. I'm quite familiar with it, and can give you any other special characters you might need; just list them in an edit to the question or a comment, and I'll update this answer.)

  • Thanks, that clarified things. Now that I know what to look for, I found useful sites online – Ulrich Scholz Sep 3 '18 at 6:52

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