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Use Special Characters in Windows

Sometimes you might be working on an online form or other application where you need to insert a special character. The Character Map feature in Windows is an often overlooked feature that can help you add special characters to your work.

To access the Character Map in Vista or Windows 7, click on Start and enter character map into the search box and hit Enter.

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Now choose the font which matches what you’re working in, select the special character you want to use.

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Then just paste the character into your document, online form, or whatever app you need to use it in.

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If you want to navigate to it via the Start Menu, go to Start \ All Programs \ Accessories \ System Tools \ Character Map.

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Another way to quickly pull it up is to enter charmap or charmap.exe into the run line.

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This “oldie but goodie” feature should help out those new to Windows, and perhaps some users who have forgotten about it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/3/10

Comments (5)

  1. Enzer Milliard

    I’ve been using this since XP SP1 came out (maybe even before). I don’t use it too often nowadays, but I always liked how on the bottom right it showed you what to press to get the symbol, so for your case hold the alt key then on the numpad press 0174 (doesn’t work on the other number keys). My favorite is dagger † which is alt 0134. Sadly it’s broken so you can’t keystroke them all in. But you can make smily faces like this :Þ and :þ with 0222 and 0254 respectively.

    On a side note it says U+0021 on the left for the exclamation mark, does that mean unicode character 22 (assuming that characters start at 0) or is it another combination of key presses?

  2. Heaven Heaven

    If you use characters often or at least can remember them, you can always just type in the code directly, like Alt+0248. As Enzer WIlliard says, you have to use the numeric keypad, so on a laptop without a numeric keypad, you can do Alt+Fn+0248.

  3. TS

    Thanks Heaven Heaven. I’ve only seen people refer to the num pad, this was the first time I saw a trick for laptops.

  4. Edward

    How do you show the character map that shows the RIGHT character for Alt+168 = ¿ ?
    Most folks have learned that Alt+168 = ¿. Now it looks like we have to “relearn” to use Alt+0191 = ¿ ?
    Think that is due to using either ASCII or UTF, not sure. Anyone know? Is there a registry or setup value to use the “right” character map?

    Yesterday used an app in Facebook that exports your contacts in to a xls file. All the names with Spanish characters and even other language accent marks were converted into 2 character symbols. Had to Search and Replace with the “right” code with Alt-168, etc.

    It also happened with app I use to snag names and info off of Outlook and net…Contact Capture. The app stopped at the first “foreign” character it ran into. Here is an example. The letter should be Alt+161 (or Alt+0237) í. Instead there is this: Rodrigo A. Díaz. Came from an email in Outlook 2007.

    Thanks.

  5. Edward

    ps
    Just realized that the à (Alt+0195) is really the equivalent of í. So yeah, it looks like a mapping issue.

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