My laptop has a US keyboard, and I need to write some French, with accents.

I know there's a painful way to do it with combinations of the alt key and the ascii code alt-codes, but I was wondering if there was an easier way to do it.

PS: Since the question is closed (but the answers no great) I thought I'd add this addendum. Basically, you need to set the keyboard to US International and then you can do accents using 'e or 'a; see this link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/97738 screenshot

PS: Much much better solution: http://keyxpat.com.

migrated from french.stackexchange.com Nov 16 '12 at 21:31

This question came from our site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the French language.

  • 1
    Not germane to your question since you're talking about Windows, but Apple's default behavior in iOS (and the latest version of OS X) is to show the various accent forms when you hold down a letter (e.g. "e" offers me è,é,ê,ë,ē,ė, and ę). A nice convenience feature (which I turn off because I usually need character repeat more often than accents :P) – voretaq7 Nov 16 '12 at 21:41

I've been using keyxpat for about 2 weeks now and I must say that this little piece of software is better than any other options I've tried so far.

  • Well 2 years later, I still love it; works great and I'm so used to my US keyboard that I couldn't switch to the French keyboard anyway. – frenchie Oct 13 '15 at 6:14

I see a few valid options :

  • Use dead keys, for instance, here on SU seems to describe it well for Windows 7. This seems to be the windows doc for it.

  • Copy-pasting¹

  • Using a french on-screen keyboard²

  • Remapping your keyboard to a french layout (azerty for instance)

¹ Enjoy :

àáâãäåæ ç èéêë ìíîï ðñ òóôõö ø ùúûüýþÿ

² That's just googled

  • Someone once told me they were able to get accents by using type single-quote in combination with the letter: 'e, "e, and 'a would produce the respective letters with an accent. You know anything about that? – frenchie Nov 13 '12 at 9:21
  • Yeah, that's called dead keys, incoming bullet. – Nikana Reklawyks Nov 13 '12 at 9:21

If you are on a Linux desktop, you probably have some kind of compose key enabled.

If you are on Windows, you can use a software that provides a compose key on. Examples of such softwares can be found on SuperUser. If I had to chose, I would go for AllChars.

  • I use the compose key all the time "comme ça" (c + , = ç) – Alexis Wilke Nov 24 '12 at 6:05

In MS-Words and some other MS software you get a set of ctrl and shift keys that you can use to access dead keys without having to switch to another keyboard.

I wrote this a little while ago (for my own sake):



Do US keyboards have AltGr? (I'm on a UK keyboard.) I can type áéíóú by pressing AltGr+(aeiou). And as a bonus, the Euro symbol (€) is on the 4 key. I was wondering what the AltGr key did only this morning!

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