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How do i type ♣ (alt+5) and ♥ (alt+259) and other characters like it on a keyboard w/o a numberpad? using the numbers 1-9-0 doesnt activate those characters. Note i want to TYPE and not use that windows program to select/copy/paste

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For some programs that use a "Rich Edit Control" (I just tested with Word 2007 and it works), this method should work, as described here:

There is a fifth related method, but it does not actually use the numeric keypad:

HexadecimalUnicode, ALT+X

Enter a Unicode value in hexadecimal (EG: Enter 00A5 for U+00A5), then press ALT+X or ALT+SHIFT+CTRL+F12 to yield ¥. Note that this shortcut does not actually use the numeric keypad. Later versions of Word or Wordpad, or anything that uses a "Rich Edit Control". (FYI: Typing ALT+SHIFT+x converts the Unicode character preceding the insertion point to the corresponding Unicode hexadecimal value.)

  • EG: 100, ALT+X yields Ā in Wordpad but does nothing in Notepad.
  • Dr. International:
    • 'This method should work in both Wordpad on Windows XP SP1 and Word 2002 and Word 2003, but it does not work in Notepad.'
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See this post: Three ways to enter Unicode characters in Windows

The three methods are

  1. Using Alt-X in Microsoft Word.
  2. Changing a registry setting to enable Alt-+ to work with more applications.
  3. Using the UnicodeInput application.
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Unicode DB IME for Windows is an amazing solution!

Advantages over UnicodeInput are text based character name search with autocomplete, and that there is no need for a numPad.

The name search is a major innovation over UnicodeInput and I cannot believe that the 2020 standard MS solutions for special characters are so clunky when this exists.

It installs as an input method, where the base language is American English.
Then simply type [ctrl shift u] for unicode input, and add ['] for name search.
More details and examples available in the documentation.

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Many laptops without separate numeric keypads nevertheless have a numeric "overlay" keypad, usually on the u-i-o-j-k-l-m-,-. keys. To use those keys as numbers, you usually have to hold down a special function key, labeled something like Fn, usually in a different color than the rest of the keyboard labels. Once you've figured out how to activate the overlay, you should be able to use it for Alt+Num shortcuts. (Emphasis on "should", not "will": on some laptops, the Alt+Num stuff will simply never work, because the implementation of the numeric keypad is buggy.)

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You can also open Character Map (Start -> Run -> CharMap) and double-click on any symbol you want. Then copy and paste.

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When you said "Strange letters" I thought you meant accents on letters for non-english languages.

While that's not what you meant, I wanted to add my answer anyway, because other people may find this helpful.

  • In the control panel, open "Regional and Language Options"
  • Click the Languages tab
  • Click the Details button
  • Click the Add... button
  • Change the Keyboard Layout to United States-International.

This gives you the option of changing to the US - International layout, which makes creating accents much easier: typing 'e for example, will give you an é. Typing `e will give you è, ^e will give you ê, etc. There's no futzing around with the unicode/alt-254 thing.

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If only a certain number of symbols are important to you, but you find yourself using them all the time, you might consider replacing your keyboard layout with a custom built one, using MSKLC.

  1. Download and start the program.
  2. Load your current keyboard layout.
  3. Edit the keyboard to put the characters you want in places you can remember them. I find AltGr combinations rather useful. With dead keys you can put dozens of extra characters in.
  4. Save the keyboard layout.
  5. Install the new keyboard layout.
  6. Set the new keyboard layout as your standard input method and disable the old one.
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There are some good character maps in the Windows store too. Some are capable of saving common characters and they can be copied with a button.

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  • The question specified "typing" the character and not using a program to paste it. – Bort Mar 14 '17 at 14:08
  • I agree. Thank you for pointing that out to me, I consider the intent helpful. I put this answer down as an alternate that readers may consider doable. – Todd Partridge Mar 19 '17 at 13:34

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