In a recent answer I needed to include a a possessive apostrophe in a path name within Time Machine for a command line operation. I have it saved in a text file, but what the heck is it? I don't see it on my keyboard.

"/Volumes/Seagate Backup Plus Drive/Backups.backupdb/david914’s MacBook Air/2015-08-30-221221/Macintosh HD/Users/david914/"

I first tried to look at it with python, but no luck.

These I know:

things = ["'", '"', "`"]
names = ["single quote", "double quote", "backtick"]
ascii = [ord(thing) for thing in things]

for (a, b, c) in zip(things, ascii, names):
    print "  " + a  + "  " + str(b) + "  " + c

  '  39  single quote
  "  34  double quote
  `  96  backtick

but the apostrophe in question is: --> ’ <--

and all I can get is:

>>> ord("’")
Unsupported characters in input

Then I used Excel:


and got:

Excel code for a character

Checking the opposite direction in Excel:


enter image description here

Back to python:

>>> chr(213)

Does this character appear normally on English MacBook Air keyboards? How else can I make them besides resorting to some kind of Office or Open Office product ?? What it is, anyway?

  • 1
    char 213 (decimal) or d5 (hex) is the right single quote represented in the old MacRoman character set. OS X uses Unicode, where it is U+2019. From the keyboard this is normally made via option shift ] Sep 4, 2015 at 9:56
  • Thanks @TomGewecke ! That is in fact an alternate answer - what the heck is this thing and how can I make more of them?
    – uhoh
    Sep 4, 2015 at 10:08
  • Does it not work to make them using option shift ] ? Sep 4, 2015 at 10:11
  • I meant that as a compliment @TomGewecke ! It works perfectly! I wanted to highlight the fact that in 201 characters you both explained what that character is, and gave me a way to easily make more of them. So you actually answered both parts of my question with one sentence. Great!
    – uhoh
    Sep 4, 2015 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


Section 6.2 of the Unicode Standard 7.0.0 states:

U+2019 […] is preferred where the character is to represent a punctuation mark, as for contractions: “We’ve been here before.”

The character does not appear directly on any keyboard I own.

On an British or US English keyboard you can use Option+Shift+] to type the character: == U+2019; thanks to @tom-gewecke for this key combination.

Emoji & Symbols Palette

In OS X 10.10, you can access this character from the menu item: Edit > Emoji & Symbols:

Character Palette

Control-Click on the character to copy additional information.

In earlier versions of OS X, this palette was called the Character Palette.

Smart Quotes

The character is can be automatically substituted by OS X through the Smart Quotes feature of the default text system:

Smart Quotes screenshot

Unicode is Complex

Copying and pasting a few of the candidate character information to a text file results in:

  • ' - APOSTROPHE, Unicode: U+0027, UTF-8: 27
  • ՚ - ARMENIAN APOSTROPHE, Unicode: U+055A, UTF-8: D5 9A
  • - FULLWIDTH APOSTROPHE, Unicode: U+FF07, UTF-8: EF BC 87

Ted Clancy's article Which Unicode character should represent the English apostrophe? (And why the Unicode committee is very wrong.) reveals just how involved the unicode character set can become.

  • 1
    Wow! Thank you for putting all of that in one place. I am relieved to see that my question was at least not trivial. After reading all of that, I am hesitant to use the possessive form or contractions ever again, lest I use the wrong character and Ted finds out about it! :)
    – uhoh
    Sep 4, 2015 at 9:01
  • Good to hear the answer helped. Internationalisation is a difficult problem to tackle. Sep 4, 2015 at 9:05
  • 1
    The US keyboard makes U+2019 via option shift ] Sep 4, 2015 at 9:57

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