French Accents

You need to set up your home computer keyboard to use the English – (US) international keyboard.  You are NOT adding a French keyboard.  Here are directions for both Windows Vista and Windows XP.  For Macs – go to this website and download the correct keyboard: US International Keyboard for Mac Computers

In order to use one of the international keyboard, you need to add it to Windows. Once you’ve done this, you can either set it as your default keyboard, or use alt plus shift to toggle between two or more layouts. The way to do this is slightly different for each operating system.

Windows Vista

  1. Open your Control Panel
  2. If in Classic View, click Control Panel Home in upper-left corner
  3. Under Clock, Language, and Region, click Change keyboards or other input methods
  4. Click Change keyboards
  5. Click Add
  6. Scroll down to the layout you want to add*
  7. If you don’t see a list including the keyboard you want, click + to expand
  8. Choose your layout
  9. Click OK in each dialog window.

Windows XP

  1. Open your Control Panel (via Start menu or My Computer)
  2. Double-click Regional and Language Options
  3. Click Languages
  4. Click Details
  5. Click Add
  6. Under “Input Language” pick the language you want to add*
  7. Under “Keyboard layout/IME” make your selection
  8. Click OK in each dialog window.

Once you have set it up, THEN here is how you actually type a letter to get the accent.  This will work in emails and in any document.

Typing Accents – Windows: International Keyboard – once you have set it up….

  • To type accent grave (à, è, etc), type ` (to the left of 1) then the vowel.
  • Accent aigu (é), type ‘ (single quote) then e.
  • Cédille (ç), type ‘ then c.
  • Circonflexe (ê) or (û) ,  –  hit the shift and the 6 at the same time, let up,  then type the letter e or u
  • Tréma (ö or ï or ü) – hold down the left shift key and the quotation key at same time, release, then hit vowel.  To make it capital, hold all 3 at same time
  • To type French quotation marks « » use ctrl + alt + [ and ], respectively.

Note: The minor disadvantage of the international keyboard is that when you want to type the “helping” character (e.g., single or double quotes) by itself rather than above a vowel, you have to type the symbol then hit the space bar. For example, to type c’est, type c then then hit the spacebar then type e s t. It takes a little while to get used to typing that extra space when you just want to type ‘ or ”

Troubleshooting the international keyboard
If you are plagued by strangeness such as cést when you try to type c’est, re-read the note above.



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