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?

  • 3
    shift + 3 ;) ..
    – Matt Ellen
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 23:04
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of How to input special characters w/o numpad?
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 6:59
  • 1
    Ah, that makes sense. I've retracted my close vote and edited the question to make its non-duplicateness clearer.
    – Ben N
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 15:20
  • 1
    é: hold down option, press e twice; ø: option o; ê : option i then e; and so on; if you use the mac's on-screen keyboard and press option the modifier keys are highlighted
    – jcollum
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 18:48
  • 1
    That's the US-English layout. It took me about 5 seconds to find how to switch my keyboard to Kurdish, for instance; it's easy.
    – jcollum
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 15:15

15 Answers 15


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.

  • Thanks, I'll check this out and let you guys know if it works... Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 21:12
  • 4
    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? Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 17:26
  • @JayImerman Search for U+20AC in the charmap (they're in order, it's almost at the very bottom) Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 17:37

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 Microsoft Word. To make it even faster, I created autocorrect entries to replace /b6 with ¶  and /a7 with §.

(I write for a judge, and I need to enter the above paragraph and 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!)

Reference: how do I insert ASCII characters without numeric key pad?

  • 5
    Maybe you could attach a real keyboard? If you write for a judge it would seem to be worth the effort. Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:56

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

  • 4
    Care to show some examples?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 11:21
  • sry, haven't used it, yet ;)
    – dns13
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 11:35
  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
  • 1
    Although I did not activate the Num Lock this solution works.
    – Vesnog
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 14:45
  • 3
    Unfortunately no Num Lock or Scroll Lock on some netbooks (such as my 2017 Dell XPS 13"). :-(
    – Simon E.
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 6:27
  • 8
    Not a general sollution - many modern laptops do not have a "hidden" numpad
    – Joren Vaes
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 13:27

For web browsers, I just wrote a user script to address this for my own evil purposes, at least in Firefox with the Greasemonkey add-on and in Chrome with the Tampermonkey add-on.

GitHub page | Direct install | License

Unknown whether the script works in other browsers with Tampermonkey, but my guess is not fully. I might hack compatibility for other browsers if someone pays me enough.

With the script installed in your browser, Alt+number row combinations should work like Alt+NumPad would on a full-size keyboard. Additionally, Alt+x will translate the hexadecimal value preceding the text caret into a Unicode value, similar to MS Office.

Extended characters begin with a zero:

  • £ works with Alt+0163
  • ° works with Alt+0176
  • ² works with Alt+0178

For values between 32 - 255 without a leading zero, glyphs are retrieved using an OEM codepage table (with generous but unconsenting help from the SheetJS project's codepage abstractions). The following examples are made with codepage=437 (en-US) defined in the user script:

  • Ω works with Alt+234 (no leading zero)
  • works with Alt+236 (no leading zero)
  • £ works with Alt+156 (no leading zero)

You can also type a hex value then hit Alt+x to perform the conversion. It works like MS Word, but with looser interpretation of the hex notation. My goal is that if you forget the proper way to activate an Alt+x sequence, just try something and it'll probably work as intended.

  • results from typing 2713 then hitting Alt+x
  • also results from typing 0x2713 then hitting Alt+x
  • also results from typing \u2713 then hitting Alt+x
  • also results from typing U+2713 then hitting Alt+x
  • also results from typing 2713, highlighting it, then hitting Alt+x

In Windows 10 with May 2019 Update, you may also hit Windows logo key + . or ; which opens the emoji panel and then click the omega sign to switch to symbols: enter image description here


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].


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.

  • worth a shot - might be the best route! Commented Oct 21, 2010 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.
    – RomanSt
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 20:18

Relativity simple method that I use:

Invoke, then use the "Ease of Access" on-screen keyboard:

  2. Click on EASE OF ACCESS
  4. The default setting MIGHT have numpad on the keyboard. but if NOT, click "options" on the on-screen keyboard itself, and then tick "turn on numeric keypad" at the top.


Keep it minimized if you plan to use letters repeatedly.


If you don't have a numeric pad, i wrote a little program for this use. This is the program: AltPiuSend

Push "Win + R" keys and digit "shell:startup", copy the program here and reboot. On startup, i register 10 hotkey: Alt + 0...9 (number in keyboard, not in numeric pad). When you push "Alt + Number" keys in the keyboard, i send Alt + the same number of the numeric pad (virtual key). It's all.

The program is written in VB .NET 2010 Express and need Microsoft Framework 4.0. If you don't have installed Microsoft Framework 4.0, search for "Microsoft Framework 4.0 download" and download it from Microsoft site.


Windows 11 using a wireless Logitech keyboard:

Hold down the fn key and the ALT key

type the code

release the fn and ALT keys.

For example, use the following to type an em dash (—):


and then release fn+ALT

  • Sadly this does not work for me on a wireless Logitech-G keyboard. Holding FN + ALT doesn't do anything... I think the FN on my model only activates the special functions on the F-keys, such as macros and media controls. So this is model specific and not all Logitech keyboards.
    – Pecacheu
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 6:30

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

  • 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
    Commented Mar 7, 2016 at 16:38

This is causing a lot of pain...here is the easiest solution for me.

  1. Head over to a website and copy the required characters you need
  2. Get an autotext filler like beeftext or anything https://beeftext.org
  3. Create keyboard shortcut with required characters
  4. Use as needed

Another solution is to simply bookmark a site or save the file as text file with the desired characters, that's for occasional use, but the keyboard shortcut with beeftext can be used daily enter image description here


Same problem on a Laptop Inspiron 13 without NumLock (even the overlayed NumPad activated by Fn is absent), running Windows 10 pro.

ONLY solution that has worked for me is the AutoHotKey Script in this post: How to input special characters w/o numpad?

Follow the instructions, you'll see a small icon in the Windows Taskbar showing that the script is running. Solved.


On a lenovo notebook without the Fn NumPad available, I managed to find the degree sign (that I was looking for) with :

CTRL + ALT + Shift + ;

Playing along with the keyboard and holding/releasing the shift key you can get characters like :


  • It might be useful to state what keyboard layout you use as the key combination you suggest doesn't work on my UK keyboard.
    – Burgi
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 15:35

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