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In OS X Lion, there is a very useful feature for people like me who need to write in multiple languages, which pops up a small menu of additional characters when you hold down a letter.

For instance, when I hold down the letter E, I get:


This is great when I'm writing in French for example. However right now I need to write something in Czech; however, the Czech letter ě (looks like the 3rd letter in the popup with the accent flipped) does not appear in the popup.

Is there a way to tell OS X to include Czech or other additional characters in those popups?

Note: I do not want to use the Czech keyboard layout; I found switching layouts for each language is somewhat unpractical.

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It should also be mentioned that someone asked this question back in September on the cocoa-dev mailing list: lists.apple.com/archives/cocoa-dev/2011/Sep/msg00098.html (Unfortunately there were no responses!) –  jtbandes Mar 21 '12 at 14:44
I wonder if this was perhaps recently added, like in 10.7.3? –  Tom Gewecke Mar 23 '12 at 14:52
@TomGewecke Yeah, I'm pretty sure the popup hasn't been there since 10.1... –  NOTjust -- user4304 May 17 '13 at 17:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 53 down vote accepted

The characters included in the popovers are defined in property lists inside the /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/ bundle.

I was able to change à to y by editing /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/Keyboard-en.plist and logging out and back in.

    <string>a y á â ä æ ã å ā</string>
    <string>a y á â ä æ ã å ā</string>

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How do you keep on finding these hidden gems? Are you an OS X engineer? ;) –  Mathias Bynens Mar 21 '12 at 14:17
Wow, lots of people have been trying to figure this out since at least last July. Thanks! –  Tom Gewecke Mar 21 '12 at 16:57
‘Input Methods’, ‘PressAndHold.app’…? It couldn’t have been any more obvious. –  Debilski Mar 28 '12 at 14:56
And it goes a little something like this.... i.stack.imgur.com/Kyx2v.png :) –  stuffe Apr 22 '12 at 18:27
I've tried to use this to add squared and cubed characters for press-and-hold on 2 and 3, but I don't know the dictionary key names for the plist. I've tried <key>2</key>, <key>Number-2</key>, and <key>Roman-Accent-2</key> but none of these worked. Is there a list of possible key-names somewhere? –  jhabbott Jun 19 at 17:15

As far as I know no one has yet found a way to add items to the popups.

You could ask Apple to do it here:


In case you are not aware, layouts can be easily switched via the shortcut Apple/command + space.

Also you can make the czech accents with the US Extended layout via Option/alt keyboard shortcuts. A list is at


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Seems there's no way to do what I want now, so I'll accept this answer. I have asked apple on the page you provided. –  houbysoft Sep 20 '11 at 23:32
There’s also bugreport.apple.com. –  Mathias Bynens Mar 21 '12 at 14:16

My solution (for Czech):

  1. Backup /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/Keyboard-en.plist file
  2. Copy /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/Keyboard-cs.plist and rename it to /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/Keyboard-en.plist
  3. Remove useless characters from new /System/Library/Input Methods/PressAndHold.app/Contents/Resources/Keyboard-en.plist
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good idea, I only switch between one other international keyboard ATM, this will make that almost unnecessary!!! (not to mention the layout has me typing with numbers all the time…) –  NOTjust -- user4304 May 17 '13 at 17:27

I know this is a little late, but I feel it's an important contribution: you can not only press-and-hold keys to input special characters; you can also input strings of text. For example, I configured my Keyboard-en.plist file so when I hold the "p" key, I can choose between my first name (which is pretty long), last name, and email address (which is also long). I feel this might be useful to some people, so this is what it looks like:

    <string>p firstname lastname email</string>
    <string>p firstname lastname email</string>
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Cool! Out of curiosity what's your first name if you don't mind sharing? Given how long it waits I'd imagine this would give me a benefit only like upwards of 10-15 chars... My names are pretty short, but it could be useful for the email. –  houbysoft Aug 3 '12 at 1:17
@houbysoft - You're right. I guess it's not that useful for my name, as mine is only 8 letters long, but for my emails which are upwards of 25 letters long each, it's very useful. –  qegal Aug 3 '12 at 1:19
btw, I just realized, do you know if something like this is possible on iOS? Given the small keyboards on iPhones for instance this could be very useful for those devices. –  houbysoft Aug 3 '12 at 1:22
@houbysoft - Well you might have heard of text expanders, which you can configure so for example when I type "addr", it will autocomplete my complete address. I just did a quick google search and it looks like there's an iOS text expander app. You can find it here: <itunes.apple.com/us/app/textexpander/id326180690?mt=8>; –  qegal Aug 3 '12 at 1:57
@OghmaOsiris - Duplicate it, save it to your Desktop, make the desired edits, then rename it to the original (ex. "Keyboard-en-duplicate.plist" -> "Keyboard-en.plist") and place delete the original file. Then place the renamed duplicate in the original directory. –  qegal Aug 28 '12 at 16:52

Using the info in this thread I answered the same question on MacRumors.

I made a custom .plist file specifically for Chinese Pinyin input. So I wanted to link to a plist that is created for Chinese phonetics. You can download it here.

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