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One thing I've always hated about Windows is that to type a non-English character, like é, on a US keyboard you have to hold the Alt key and type in a four digit code on your num-pad. For instance, é is generated by Alt + 0233. This is difficult to type and requires a reference sheet of codes since you'll probably never remember the numbers.

I recently discovered that Word 2013 has a nicer alternative. Typing in a é is done by Ctrl + ' and then e. This is much more intuitive and easier to type! Unfortunately, it seems limited to MS Word, so I can't use these shortcuts in Internet Explorer, for instance.

Is there any way (either with Windows or with 3rd party solutions) that I can make this Word 2013 style of typing non-English characters system-wide? I'm running Windows 7.

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Have you tried enabling US-International English keyboard layout under Control Panel (instructions are for XP, Vista, and 7)?

This should work for all programs in Windows and according to the description below it has a similar input method as Microsoft Word that you are looking for. This site gives a description:

The US-International English keyboard layout is installed as above (or see installation details) and has these features:

It uses the following intuitive methods which work with most (or all) Windows applications, while keeping the familiar QWERTY keyboard.

Press one of the five modifier keys ` ' " ~ ^ , then the letter to be modified. ( ' then a = á, " then u = ü, ' then c = ç, etc. ). Press the right alt key + another key. Example: right alt + , = ç (or ' + c)

  • This is exactly what I want! The instructions are different for Windows 7, so I've submitted an edit which includes those. Also, it seems to be for left alt on Windows 7, rather than right alt, which is fine for me since I'm accustomed to using left-option for doing non-English characters on OS X. – Thunderforge Oct 23 '13 at 15:16
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    After using it for a bit, I've decided that this layout is less than ideal because it ties up the ' key, which I type far more often than I type characters like é. This may be the best option, but I've decided to hold off on accepting an answer in case there is a better option that is less disruptive to my typing habits. – Thunderforge Oct 23 '13 at 17:46

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