Enter special characters

You can enter and view thousands of characters from most of the world's writing systems, even those not found on your keyboard. This page lists some different ways you can enter special characters.

Character map

GNOME comes with a character map application that allows you to browse all the characters in Unicode. Use the character map to find the character you want, and then copy and paste it to wherever you need it.

You can find Character Map in the Dash. For more information on the character map, see the Character Map Manual.

Compose key

A compose key is a special key that allows you to press multiple keys in a row to get a special character. For example, to type the accented letter é, you can press compose then ' then e.

Keyboards don't have specific compose keys. Instead, you can define one of the existing keys on your keyboard as a compose key.

Define a compose key

  1. Click the system menu Power cog icon and select System Settings.

  2. Open Keyboard.

  3. Select the Shortcuts tab.

  4. Select the Typing category in the left pane.

  5. Select Compose Key in the right pane.

  6. Click on Disabled and select a key from the drop-down menu. Note: The key you select will only work as a compose key, and will no longer work for its original purpose.

You can type many common characters using the compose key, for example:

  • Press compose then ' then a letter to place an acute accent over that letter, such as é.

  • Press compose then ` (back tick) then a letter to place a grave accent over that letter, such as è.

  • Press compose then " then a letter to place an umlaut over that letter, such as ë.

  • Press compose then - then a letter to place a macron over that letter, such as ē.

For more compose key sequences, see the compose key page on Wikipedia.

Code points

You can enter any Unicode character using only your keyboard with the numeric code point of the character. Every character is identified by a four-character code point. To find the code point for a character, find the character in the character map application and look in the status bar or the Character Details tab. The code point is the four characters after U+.

To enter a character by its code point, press Ctrl+Shift+U, type the four-character code point, and press Enter. If you often use characters that you can't easily access with other methods, you might find it useful to memorize the code point for those characters so you can enter them quickly.

Input sources

You can make your keyboard behave like the keyboard for another language, regardless of the letters printed on the keys. You can even switch between different input sources using an icon in the menu bar. To learn how, see Use alternative input sources.