Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm looking for one of those +? shortcuts to type a minus sign (−) from the keyboard, without touching the mouse.

I'm looking for the minus sign (−). It should have the same width as a plus sign (+), and its Unicode code point is 8722 (x2212 in hexadecimal).

What I'm not looking for:

  • The hyphen minus (-), already on the keyboard, is not the typographically correct symbol for subtraction.
  • The em dash (—, ++-) is used to signify a break in thought and is far too wide to be confused for a minus sign.
  • The en dash (–, +-) is used for ranges of values or relationships and connections and shouldn't be used in place of a minus sign.
share|improve this question
3  
Does "Unicode hex input" as described here (apple.stackexchange.com/a/4077/1227) help? (didn't know there were so many minus signs :) – LudoMC Feb 6 '12 at 17:15
    
Why, yes it does. =) – Chris Calo Feb 8 '12 at 5:10
    
I didn't post as an answer as I didn't know how to switch the input method with keyboard only as jan.h explained below. – LudoMC Feb 10 '12 at 17:56
4  
My god... I feel like I've been using the wrong characters my whole life. – Mike Weller Nov 21 '12 at 16:46
    
@MikeWeller Also, "alt-;" creates a true ellipsis: "…" – Neil G Dec 2 '15 at 9:23

I don't know shortcut for actual minus sign in macOS. However, you can insert one using-

  1. Go to System Preferences --> Keyboard and (make sure you are on tab 'keyboard') check mark option of "Show Keyboard, Emoji, and Symbol viewers in menu bar" this will put an icon on your mac menu bar right side.enter image description here

  2. Click on that icon, will open a menu.

  3. Choose "Show Emoji & Symbols". It will open a dialog box.

  4. Choose "Math Symbols". You can insert the minus sign from here as shown below.enter image description here

Hope that helps!

share|improve this answer

Here's a really fast way to insert a minus sign (or any other sign for that matter).

Use Emoji & Symbols

You can get to Emoji & Symbols by going to the Edit Menu on the Top Menu Bar on your secreen

enter image description here

But the easier way, is to invoke the keyboard shortcut by typing ShiftCommandSpace

You will then be presented with the Emoji & Symbols search box; just type "minus" and you will be presented with all the options for "minus signs"

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I found a new, better solution, but it's also not free. You can use the popular Mac productivity utility Alfred with a workflow extension to search for and copy any unicode character.

It's the fastest solution I've found to find and insert any unicode character out there. You simply press a keyboard command to launch the Alfred prompt, type in keyword and search term, use the up/down arrows to highlight the result you want, and then press Enter to copy it to the clipboard. Here's what it looks like:

enter image description here

Installation

Here are the steps to get this set up:

  1. First, install Alfred from alfredapp.com.
  2. Next, to enable workflows, you'll have to buy the Alfred Powerpack upgrade. (If all you want is to look up Unicode characters, buying the Powerpack probably isn't worth the cost. But it does come with lots of helpful enhancements.)
  3. Then go to the unicode-symbols-search repo on Github and download the ZIP.
  4. Open the ZIP and the contained folder to find a file named Symbols Search.alfredworkflow. Open that file and Alfred should take over and install it.

Optional stuff

I make two customizations: I change the keyword for this workflow and I turn off automatic pasting.

The default keyword is uss, which means nothing to me. I change it to char.

  1. First, press the keyboard shortcut to show the Alfred prompt and then press Cmd , to open preferences.
  2. Navigate to the Workflows section and you should see Symbols Search. Double-click the left box labeled Script Filter to open its configuration.
  3. Change the keyword to char (or whatever else you want).

enter image description here

I also don't like that the default is to immediately paste the character when you press Enter. To turn that off:

  1. As above, go to Alfred Preferences > Workflows > Symbols Search.
  2. Double-click the right box labeled Copy to Clipboard to open its configuration.
  3. Uncheck the checkbox labeled Automatically paste to from most app.

enter image description here

Use it

Now let's actually use it!

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut to show the Alfred prompt. (Alfred Preferences > General)
  2. Type char minus. (Or replace char whatever keyword you chose for Symbols Search workflow.)
  3. Press the down arrow until minus sign is highlighted.
  4. Press Enter to copy to the clipboard.
  5. Go back to whatever app you want to paste the minus sign into and do it.
  6. Declare victory.

The first time you do this isn't fast. Every other time is.

share|improve this answer

You can set up just a regular autocorrect shortcut for this as well, which I found much simpler.

First, insert a proper minus sign into a Word document somewhere using the "Insert symbol" function. Highlight that minus sign.

Go to "Tools" --> "Autocorrect". The proper minus sign you have highlighted will show up in the "replace with" field on the right; all you have to do now is type whatever shortcut you want to use on the left. I like to use letter combinations that won't show up in other contexts, but are somehow reminiscent of what I actually want to type; I chose "mnsgn" in this case.

Click "add" and then "OK". Now, whenever you type whatever your shortcut is, it will be autocorrected to a minus sign.

share|improve this answer
    
But that is ONLY for MS Word, nothing else. – Tom Gewecke Nov 19 '15 at 18:46

In word, you can create a new shortcut:

  1. Click Insert --> Symbol --> Advanced Symbol. That will open the Symbol browser.
  2. In the lower left side, click the "Autocorrect" button, which will open the autocorrect window.
  3. Under "Math Autocorrect" tab, activate "Use Math AutoCorrect rules outside of math regions"
  4. In the "Replace" box, type the code you want to use. (I have it set to "-")
  5. In the "With" box, enter the "minus" symbol. I had to "cut-and-paste" it from a text document.
  6. Click OK.

Done. Next time you type - it will be replaced by the minus sign.

Hope it helps!

share|improve this answer
    
This can also be done automagically in all OS X apps via System Prefrences -> Language & Text -> Text under "symbol and text substitution" :) – Emil Feb 17 '13 at 17:19
    
This question isn't about Microsoft Word. It's about typing a minus sign anywhere in Mac OS X. – Chris Calo Nov 19 '15 at 18:46
1  
Just noticed @emil's comment. That would be a better answer. – Chris Calo Nov 19 '15 at 18:52

It's not free, and you have to use the mouse briefly, but the fastest way to do this is with an app named Characters from the Mac App Store for $2.99. You click the icon in the Mac menu bar, search for a character, and use the arrows and Enter to copy it to the clipboard.

Screenshot of the Characters app for Mac

share|improve this answer

There's a way of entering Unicode values on the Mac: go to System Preferences, then Language & Text. In the Input Sources tab, scroll to Unicode Hex Input, check it.

Select Unicode Hex Input from the list of Input Sources in the Language & Text preference pane.

Then if you switch to Unicode Hex Input in the Mac menu bar, you can press
+2212 for the minus sign. Here's what the input switcher looks like:

Input switcher in the Mac menu bar.

If you want to switch between your input and hex input via keyboard, you have to click "Keyboard Shortcuts..." in the same window, disable "Show Spotlight Window" in the Spotlight section, and maybe activate "Select next source in Input Menu". ++space will then swap input language. (You can check this in the menu bar.)

(Alternatively, there's the low-mouse-use option via Special Characters:
Go to Edit > Special Characters...; in there, select the Unicode tab, and Code tables (or however it's called in English) at the top.
Next, scroll down the list until you see 00002200 in the Unicode column. Click it. Down below, look for the row that begins with 2210, and it should be the 3rd char.)

share|improve this answer
1  
I would suggest a language-switch keyboard shortcut that doesn't interfere with spotlight. I use alt+cmd+L personally. – Mike Weller Nov 22 '12 at 10:33

If you need to do this a lot, you might get ukelele and use it to create your own keyboard layout. That's what I did, and now I can type all kinds of mathematical symbols with ease, such as lots of integral signs (∫, ∬, ∭, ∮), ∅, ∇, ∀, ∃, ∑, ∏, ⊂, ⊆, ⊃, ⊇, not to mention arrows: →, ←, ↔, ↓, ↑ and so on. (However, you probably don't want my keyboard layout, as it is based on the Norwegian keyboard.) I admit it took me a while to put it together, but I feel it was worth the effort. Your mileage may vary, however.

share|improve this answer
    
Norwegian keyboard layouts are the best ;) – Emil Feb 17 '13 at 17:17

One option would be to create ~/Library/KeyBindings/ and save an old-style property list like this as DefaultKeyBinding.dict:

{
    "~M" = (insertText:, "−"); // opt-shift-m
}
share|improve this answer
    
How do you create a .dict file? – Vidar S. Ramdal Dec 11 '15 at 21:00

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.