I write mathematical computer code.

I frequently need Greek letters such as ø

My current workflow is terrible: hold down OPT and run my finger across the three rows of the keyboard:


... And see if I can find what I'm hunting for.

Failing that, typing 'alpha Unicode' into Google hope for some symbol I can copy and paste.

I discovered that in system settings -> keyboard -> keyboard, I can "show keyboard and character viewers in menubar".

The character viewer looks like it will come to the rescue, but ... no Greek symbols! ARGH!

What can I do?


In the top left-hand corner of the Character Viewer, there’s a gear icon. The first option is “Customise List…”.

This gives you a selectable list of all the character sets available in the sidebar. If you scroll down, you’ll find Greek as one of the options:

enter image description here

I don’t have a Mavericks machine to hand to check, but I’m fairly sure this feature existed before Yosemite.

  • 1
    Thanks, strangely this was greyed-out. But works nevertheless -- thanks! – P i Apr 17 '15 at 11:57
  • Not sure whether it's just a design decision, but all that top section is in a light grey palette until you click in Search, then it all switches to black on grey – Tetsujin Apr 17 '15 at 12:16
  • I confirm you that your answer is correct on Mountain Lion and Mavericks. – dan Apr 17 '15 at 13:41
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    The only thing I would add is that on Sierra I had to switch between the basic and advanced Character Viewer (button in the top-right corner) in order to bring up the menu. – Azeari Apr 13 '17 at 16:23

Here's the neatest trick I've found for easily getting the Greek letters when I need them. In System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts I have Select the previous input source mapped to cmd-space:

enter image description here

and then in Input Sources I have my standard keyboard and the Greek keyboard:

enter image description here

Now whenever I hit cmd-space my keyboard switches over to Γρεεκ (or vice-versa):

enter image description here

The Greek letters map to the English letters in a much more rational way than what you get with holding option and hunting/pecking. The one caveat is that cmd-space is natively mapped as a shortcut for something else, but considering that I can't even remember what that something else is it wasn't very important.


For completeness, it turns out that cmd-space is normally a shortcut that brings up a Spotlight search bar.

  • Worked perfectly! – wogsland Sep 16 '17 at 10:31
  • This hack is genius. – Paradox Jul 29 '19 at 5:49
  • You can now set it up so pressing-and-holding Caps Lock switches to a specified input source. – afeique Apr 27 '20 at 20:53

An alternative - if you know the symbol is in the Opt keys somewhere but just cant remember

Show Keyboard Viewer, then if you hold Opt it will show you the alternatives. You can either complete from the keyboard or click with the mouse to insert at the current carat

enter image description here

  • You can use the Grab utility to make screenshots there. But very few real greek characters are available via opt in any case. – Tom Gewecke Apr 17 '15 at 13:01
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    @TomGewecke I never thought of firing it up as an app. Cool. – Tetsujin Apr 17 '15 at 13:30

Tested on OSX 10.15+
View steps on imgur

First, add the input source

  1. Navigate to System Preferences > Keyboard:

    System Preferences

  2. Under the Input Sources tab, hit the "+" to add a new source:

    Add Input Source

  3. Add the desired input source, in this case, Greek:

    Desired Input Source

Next, setup shortcuts for switching

  • For the most commonly used alternative input source, it's convenient to allow switching by pressing and holding Caps Lock:

    Press and Hold Caps Lock

  • Under Keyboard > Shortcuts, the system has a default shortcut of ^Space (Ctrl-Space):

    ^Space Shortcut

  • If you keep holding Ctrl after pressing ^Space, you will get the input source selection menu:

    Input Source Selection


υσε υνιγoδειτ.νετ via unicodeit.net Online Demo

It can also be downloaded and installed on a Mac, and put into a Service so it is easily accessible within Keynote and Pages.

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