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I know option o comes out to ø? So I have been using that as my theta.

But I would love to know how to type Theta for a mac?

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According to keyboard viewer on my mac, there is no direct shortcut for it – AMomchilov Aug 28 '12 at 18:33
Unicode 03B8 if you can do that... θ ... – GEdgar Sep 4 '12 at 19:09
You might find this question useful to add a theta to a press-and-hold option:… – CajunLuke Sep 4 '12 at 19:47
Or this:… – Daniel Sep 19 '13 at 3:49
There is alternately unicode 03D1 like this ϑ ... – GEdgar Jan 9 '14 at 20:56

12 Answers 12

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Γο το Συστεμ Πρεφερενψεσ/Λανγθαγε & Τεχτ/Ινπθτ Σοθρψεσ, σεαρψη φορ Γρεεκ, αδδ ιτ. Νος υοθ μαυ τυπε θ φρομ κευβοαρδ.

Go to System Preferences/Language & Text/Input Sources, search for Greek, add it. Now you may type u from keyboard.

enter image description here

Or you may just use Find and replace function in Edit menu to change ø to θ afterwards.

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+1 for the transliterated Greek. I hope you don't mind I added the Latin-character version in the spoiler tag. (I had fun practicing my knowledge of Greek characters.) – CajunLuke Aug 28 '12 at 20:19
Ιτ'σ φινε! Ι ηαωε ενοθγη φθν ςηιλε τυπινγ ιτ) – iskra Aug 28 '12 at 20:21

As pointed out in this post, you can add keys to the press and hold key feature.

Edit the file "/System/Library/Input Methods/", and add the following code:

By default, there is "no Roman-Accent-t" section, I coppied mine from "Roman-Accent-s." You could add θ to any key you like (e.g: "o") by modifying the appropriate section.

            <string>t θ</string>
            <string>t θ</string>

Note: Case sensitive. "Roman-Accent-T" is NOT the same as "Roman-Accent-t"

Caution: This is a system-wide change. Edit carefully or make backups.

Now, when you press and hold 't' this appears: proof

Then click θ or press 1 to have a "θ" inserted into your document.

I did not have to relog after making edits.

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The only way I know is as follows (and I presume you are working with a US/UK keyboard):

System Preferences > Language and Text > Input Sources.

Scroll down and enable Greek (or Greek Polytonic).

Check Show Input menu in menu bar.

enter image description here

When you want to type a θ (theta), switch the menu item to greek.

enter image description here

Type u or U. Change back to your original language.

I hope this helps.

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You can set up a shortcut (like option+tab) to switch between languages, whilst avoiding an otherwise unnecessary menu item – AMomchilov Aug 28 '12 at 20:32
It's usually (and by default) cmd+space. – iskra Aug 28 '12 at 20:42
cmd+space conflicts with Spotlight... – lhf Aug 28 '12 at 21:24
@lhf Oh, yes, I forgot that inconsistency Apple introduced in 10.5 I believe. Funny thing is cmd+space was standard for keyboard input for a long time, then somewhere around 10.5 (or was it 10.4) Apple decided to use this same shortcut for Spotlight quickpane. But(!) only when you setup system as with English language initially. I've tried to setup it with Ukrainian and Russian and then Spotlight is not conflicting by default because it is not cmd+space. Have to file a bug/inconsistency report to Apple – iskra Aug 28 '12 at 22:57
you can override cmd-space - turn it off in keyboard prefs > keyboard shortcuts > spotlight. Then turn it on in prefs > keyboard shortcuts > keyboard and text – David DelMonte Aug 29 '12 at 5:06

In System Preferences, select Keyboard, then again select Keyboard, check the "Show Keyboard and Character Viewer in menu bar" option.

Use the drop-down menu from the menu bar and select Show Character Viewer - there will be a short list that Apple thinks we will use. In the upper-left-hand corner there is a sprocket with a drop-down menu: select Customize List. Scroll down to European Alphabetic Scripts, click the arrow down to open that list, select the Greek check box, then choose Done.

Greek will now be displayed in the list on the left. Select Greek in the list, highlight the theta character in the center, choose your variation, then scroll down and you will find Font Variations of the selected character.

After you have decided which variation you would like to use click Add To Favorites. A new list name will show up under Recently Used called Favorites. When this is selected it will only show the favorites you have added.

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@Dan J thanks for the edit I was hurried in my answer and had to leave. – rclyde Aug 29 '12 at 3:52
This is difficult to do everytime you want to type a θ. My solution, you only need to set up once.. – David DelMonte Aug 29 '12 at 5:08
@David DelMonte the above only has to be set up one time, all you do is open the character pallet (after set up) double click character close pallet, if you want, the pallet will float above all windows so if used often one could even keep the pallet open shoved out of the way. I think it is less clicks than changing the keyboard and changing it back each time. – rclyde Aug 29 '12 at 14:38
While I don't think character viewer is useful sustained use of special chars, it's always on for me as it is super handy for entering the occasional special character. – ephsmith Aug 30 '12 at 23:18

If you are using Lion or Mountain Lion then just press and hold the 'o' key and a list of o's with accents will appear with a number underneath. Then just type the number for the character you want or click on it. Just like the iPhone works.


You can also use the procedure from this other question to add a theta character to the press-and-hold menu. You would pick a character to add Theta and edit the corresponding file:

/System/Library/Input Methods/

This does not work on OS X 10.11 without disabling SIP as the System Library is now restricted from modifications - even as root.

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None of those options appear to be a theta... – Dan J Sep 4 '12 at 19:01
This is the best solution! You must read the whole answer, and follow the instructions in the linked answer. – whitehat101 Sep 19 '13 at 3:04

It looks like no one has mentioned the Special Characters window.

  1. Press ++Space bar to bring up the Special Characters window.
  2. Type theta into the search bar.
  3. Your theta should be there: theta in Special Characters
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Thank you. This should be the accepted answer... – lawnsea Mar 24 at 19:52

You can achieve this another way: You can add your own substitutions using Apple's symbol and text substitution in the text tab of Language and Text of System Preferences. I found it very simple and straightforward.

Just as a test, I chose to substitute "o-" with "θ". You can use anything you want to substitute with anything you want. It's the same system that substitutes a typed 1/2 for ½.

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If you are using Microsoft word you can use auto correct to make the ø symbol into the theta symbol. using the toolbar at the top of your screen click 'insert' and then 'symbol' proceed to select the symbol that you want and then click 'AutoCorrect...' and you can make Word automatically change ø to theta.

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in ms word, go to word preferences then equations then math autocorrect. There will be a list of recognized functions and the key combinations for lots of different symbols. At the top of the screen there is an option to use math autocorrect rules outside of math regions, select this.

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Please don't add a new answer to clarify an existing answer — to improve another answer, edit it instead. – grgarside Mar 2 '14 at 12:19

Ι use command and v on the keyboard. Sorry this is so late. I'm not sure how much help it will be.

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For Mac Excell 2008:

Go to Toolbox -> Object Pallete -> Symbols (scroll down to Greek letters)

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hold in alt(or option) and shift, then press O (the letter)

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That is NOT a theta. – Tom Gewecke May 15 '13 at 17:08

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