The Spanish Keyboard: How To Type Anything in Spanish
You’ve just started learning Spanish and it doesn’t seem as difficult as you feared. Unfortunately, when you go to start typing out all of your amazing knowledge, you get frustrated by your keyboard. That’s right, we’ve all been there. All those strange characters unknown in English are giving you headaches: accents, tilde, and diaeresis, but there’s a simple solution!
Here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, we’ve prepared a cheat sheet for you! No matter if you’re writing on a Mac or PC, on an iOS or Android device, after reading this post—typing in Spanish will never be a problem again.
How To Type Accents
Those pesky accents, right? First, it’s hard to learn how to use them, and then, it’s hard to type them! But don’t worry, several options exist to choose from and you are the one who will decide which one suits you the best.
One of the most basic options is to simply create your own library of Spanish accents and punctuation marks by copying these characters á, é, í, ó, ú, ¡, ¿, and then paste them on your documents whenever you need them. But that seems a little too simple—until of course, you can’t find the document where you’ve stored them for copying. Then you have to search for them again, gathering them one by one… and that’s not simple at all!
Another option is to set your keyboard layout to Spanish keyboard. But, unless you do most of your work in Spanish, that’s simply impractical. Instead, I highly recommend that you learn the keyboard shortcuts to give you quick access to Spanish accents any time you need them.
Shortcuts for Mac & PC
A shortcut is a special combination of keys defined by programmers that generate unusual characters not included in your keyboard. Although Mac and PC operating systems offer a different set of shortcuts, they include a way to write these Spanish characters without having to change the settings of your keyboard.
I’m going to take you to the process of writing Spanish characters in your keyboard step by step. At the beginning, it may be a bit annoying but once you get used to it, you won’t even notice it. To avoid any confusion, let’s do first Mac and then we’ll explore the PC shortcuts.
Spanish Keyboard: Mac
In Mac devices from 2011 to date, there is an easy method to type accents that consist of holding down the key you need longer than usual and a pop-up menu will appear with a series of options to choose from. It’s the same system used on iPhones and iPads. Sometimes, this method won’t work depending on the word processor software you are using.
If the “easy method” doesn’t end up working out for you, don’t worry. The traditional option is not too complicated. For accents, all you need to do is to press the Option key + e, and the letter you need at the same time and then release the keys.
Actually, we have created a video that explains this very process and will help you to understand it better. Also, you can simply follow this table:
|Spanish Character||Mac Code||Spanish Character||Mac Code||Spanish Character||Mac Code|
|Á||Option + e, Shift + a||á||Option + e, a||Ñ||Option + e, Shift + n|
|É||Option + e, Shift + e||é||Option + e, e||ñ||Option + e, n|
|Í||Option + e, Shift + i||í||Option + e, i||¿||Shift + Option + ?|
|Ó||Option + e, Shift + o||ó||Option + e, o||¡||Shift + Option + 1|
|Ú||Option + e, Shift + u||ú||Option + e, u|
Spanish Keyboard: PC
Perhaps the best option to type accents on Windows is to press the apostrophe key (‘) followed by the vowel you want to accent. As in the following table:
|Spanish Character||Windows Code||Spanish Character||Windows Code|
|Á||‘ + Shift + a||á||‘ + a|
|É||‘ + Shift + e||é||‘ + e|
|Í||‘ + Shift + i||í||‘ + i|
|Ó||‘ + Shift + o||ó||‘ + o|
|Ú||‘ + Shift + u||ú||‘ + u|
For other Spanish characters commonly used just follow these next table:
|Spanish Character||Windows Code|
|Ñ||˜ + Shift + n|
|ñ||˜ + n|
|¡||Alt + 1|
|¿||Alt + ?|
If this method doesn’t work on your computer, try using the right Alt key sometimes also labeled as AltGr. All you need to do to add accents with this method is to press the right Alt key at the same as the vowel. If the vowel is capitalized, then you need to press three keys at the same time: the vowel, the right Alt key, and the Shift key.
This way also works for other common Spanish characters as you’ll see in the following table that summarizes the right Alt key method:
|Spanish Character||Windows right Alt key Code||Spanish Character||Windows right Alt key Code||Spanish Character||Windows right Alt key Code|
|Á||Alt + Shift + a||á||Alt + a||Ñ||Alt + Shift + n|
|É||Alt + Shift + e||é||Alt + e||ñ||Alt + n|
|Í||Alt + Shift + i||í||Alt + i||¿||Alt + ?|
|Ó||Alt + Shift + o||ó||Alt + o||¡||Alt + 1|
|Ú||Alt + Shift + u||ú||Alt + u|
Alt Codes for PC
A third method to type Spanish accents and punctuation marks in Windows is by using character codes, also known as ASCII code. This system is a gift from a different age, as it was first published in 1963, and it may not run anymore in some devices.
This method requires an extra step and works differently depending on if you have a numeric keypad or not. Let’s explain both ways first, followed by a list of the Alt Codes.
With Numeric Keypad
First, find the Number Lock key at the top left of your numeric keypad and press it. A small light will turn on and that’s the sign that your numeric keypad is now working. Now, find the “alt” key to the left of your space bar, press it and hold it down. With the “alt” key still pressed, type the code for the needed character and release both keys at the same time. Bingo!
Without a Numeric Keypad
However, most laptops and wireless keyboards don’t include a numeric keypad these days. On these devices this method is a little bit different.
First, find the function key “fn” at the bottom left of your keyboard. Then, find the “num lock” key to the top right corner of your keyboard. Press both keys at the same time and this will turn on your Number Lock. Now, you can type the number keys located in the top horizontal row of your keyboard to use the “alt” codes as follows:
|Spanish Character||Alt Code||Spanish Character||Alt Code||Spanish Character||Alt Code|
The reason for the existence of different keyboard layouts is simple: some languages use different characters more than others. For this reason, software engineers created an international keyboard that is the global standard, but also several different keyboards designed to specifically take care of the different needs of languages. The Spanish keyboard is one of those.
This layout is also known as the US International English keyboard. It’s the recommended layout for people who use the traditional QWERTY keyboard but need some non-English characters from time to time.
This keyboard layout supports all major Western European languages and it uses the right alt key (AltGr) as a modifier for special characters, as explained before.
A keyboard layout designed with the Spanish language in mind is a great tool for Spanish-speaking countries. The Spanish keyboard eliminates the need for shortcuts and includes the letter Ñ, as well as Spanish-only punctuation marks such as the initial exclamation and question marks ¡ ¿.
Online Spanish Keyboards
Finally, another option to write those Spanish characters not available in your traditional QWERTY keyboard layout is to use an online Spanish keyboard where you can just copy and paste the characters you may need.
How to Use an Online Spanish Keyboard
These online keyboards are actually very easy to use. They’re set to work for many different languages so you just need to choose the one you need.
The way they work is very simple, the online Spanish keyboard will offer you a blank space and a series of Spanish characters from where you can choose from. This way you are able to write whatever you may need to write and then copy it and paste it on whatever software or platform you might be working on.
Writing in Spanish on mobile devices is even easier to do than on computers. It doesn’t matter if you own an iOS or an Android device, both systems allow for you to pull up a Spanish keyboard on your phone or tablet.
However, most times you won’t even need to do that. If your needs for Spanish characters are limited, all you need to do is press the needed vowel and keep it pressed until a series of options with accents and diaeresis appear. Then just choose the required character from the menu.
Alt + Spanish Lessons
If you are ready to start writing in Spanish, maybe it’s time to take the next step and start practicing with one of Homeschool Spanish Academy native Spanish-speaking teachers. Our classes are fun and flexible and will help you improve your writing and conversational skills in Spanish, as well as your grammar. Sign up now for a free trial lesson and switch your layout to Spanish keyboard!
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