This should be easy, but I cannot solve it by myself.

How can I insert accented letters in passwords?

When I go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Change Password... and in the password field for instance I hold the letter u, it won't show the list of possible accented letters, it just repeats the u.

If I use Alt+u to get the placeholder for ü (so that I can type u to get it with the umlaut), it won't show the "insert a letter now" yellow placeholder, instead I get a beep. The same goes for Alt+i, Alt+n, Alt+e, only beeps and no possibility to enter an accented letter.

Moreover, if I enable the "Show emoji and symbols" as in the picture below, I am able to insert symbols in the hint, but in the password it is completely prohibited.

The same goes with "Show keyboard viewer" and try to insert with Alt+e|u|i|n to be able to finally enter euin to get the symbols éüîñ, I get a beep. The only accent that sort of works is the backtick Alt+backtick, but it inserts the backtick itself without prompting for the letter to be accented.

Emoji and symbols palette

Input source: US English
OS X version: El Capitan 10.11.3 (15D21)

Is there a way?

PS. By the way, when changing passwords, can I tell my Mac to stop asking this? "Would you like to change the password for “username”, or begin using your iCloud password to log in and unlock this Mac?"

  • 2
    Please remove your P.S. and add a second question. StackExchange works best if you ask one question per question...! – klanomath Feb 16 '16 at 14:09
  • My input source is US English. – senseiwa Feb 16 '16 at 15:00
  • I am using El Capitan, version 10.11.3 (15D21). Unfortunately I don't have an older version to test... – senseiwa Feb 16 '16 at 16:47
  • Updated answer. Entering Alt+e|u|i|n|` is not sufficient to enter an accented character! – klanomath Feb 17 '16 at 11:25
  • Yes, I know, I am sorry I didn't explain it clearly. I hope now it's clear that I want to enter ü, using Alt+u and then u. Thanks for pointing that out! :) – senseiwa Feb 17 '16 at 12:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Perhaps not a fully security bullet proof solution but definitely the simplest and quickest one.

  1. Open any location where you can type in normal text
  2. Type your password including the special characters
  3. Select password, Cmd-C for copy
  4. Go to the password dialog, Cmd-V for paste

If you want to do this in the login window, you could do the same however there are few extra steps to be taken:

  1. System Preferences / Users & Groups / Login Options
  2. Display login window as: Name and password
  3. Log out

Now you have 2 textboxes; one for the login name, one for the password. You can now use the same trick as the one I described above. Small issue though; the system doesn't show the clickable accent-options assist box though. They do work however. (for example try pressing 'e' for 2 seconds, then press '2' and the é should show up in the textbox)

  • But I couldn't log into my computer with this hack, I think. – senseiwa Feb 17 '16 at 14:33
  • Answer edited with a solution for that. I do admit it isn't a quick & simple method anymore. – EDP Feb 17 '16 at 14:47

Entering a password with a diacritic works as expected. You have to use the proper keys though:

To enter an umlaut you have to use altU
To enter an accent grave you have to use alt`
To enter an accent acute you have to use altE
To enter an accent circumflex you have to use altI
To enter a tilde you have to use altN

The above are all dead keys and have to be followed by a second key. If you enter space the diacritic itself is the "entered sign". Entering a dead key in a password field you neither get the typical yellow/orange dead key indicator nor a bullet - you get a beep only!

The back tick itself is no accent (dead key) but simply a back tick.

E.g. to enter an ü using an US English input source and an Apple keyboard with a (physical) US English layout you first have to hit altU and then U again.

In my virtual machine I get an alert sound but no bullet after entering the first key combination (the dead key ¨) and then after entering the second (single) U a new bullet. The resulting letter is the (lower caps) ü.


BTW the ¨ is no accent. Like accents it's a diacritic though.

  • Why do you consider the ¨ umlaut to not be an "accent"? – Tom Gewecke Feb 16 '16 at 17:26
  • @TomGewecke In linguistics only some diacritics are considered accents: `´ ˆ. They mark either a special syllable or vowel length, pitch or amplitude. The umlaut marks a completely different vowel. – klanomath Feb 16 '16 at 18:09
  • Thanks for the explanation. Apple is sloppy I guess, considering all diacritics to be accents. – Tom Gewecke Feb 16 '16 at 18:44
  • @TomGewecke The colloquial use or the meaning of "accents" is probably different than the scientific. But at least in the German-speaking world nobody would call the two dots "accents". Accents here are always straight or angular but they aren't dots or double-dots. The truth is: I don't even know the name (except Umlautzeichen) of the two dots in German. The diacritic ¨ itself is called trema or diæresis. – klanomath Feb 16 '16 at 19:05
  • Apple uses sloppy German too it seems: support.apple.com/de-de/HT201586 – Tom Gewecke Feb 16 '16 at 21:26

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