The Spanish and German alphabets each have a few characters that the English alphabet does not. Not only do you need to learn to recognize and pronounce these, but you will also need to type them. Unfortunately, there is not a single way to do this across all devices and operating systems. Select your operating system below to learn about options for typing foreign characters on your computer.
Typing accents on a Mac
The macOS has three built-in methods for typing foreign characters:
1. Press and Hold down a key to display the accent menu.
After the accent menu appears, select the desired accent mark.
Note that this menu will NOT appear if the chosen character does not have any possible accent marks.
2. Key combinations.
Use a 2-key combination to choose the symbol you want, then press the letter you want it added to. To create a ü, first press Option + u for an umlaut, then press the u again to choose the letter ü (or Shift + u for a capital Ü).
Acute ´ option e then press a vowel to enter Á É Í Ó Ú á é í ó ú
Umlaut ¨ option u then press vowel to enter Ä Ö Ü ä ö ü
Eñe ~ option n then press n to enter ñ Ñ
Eszett ß option s to enter ß
This webpage describes most of the relevant accents for Spanish and German speakers.
3. Use the Mac “System Preferences / Keyboard / Input Options” to add a Spanish/German keyboard layout.
Enable a foreign language keyboard layout
Typing accents on Windows
1. Windows 10 and 11 allow you to add foreign characters via the Emoji Keyboard.
A. Hold down the Windows key and hit the period key. Once the keyboard appears, select the Symbols option. Select the special character you desire.
2. Enable a foreign language keyboard layout.