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.
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….
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.