The wikipedia article for ə says, “In MacOS with the U.S. Extended keyboard, the letters Ə ə are made with Option+Shift+: followed by shift+A or a respectively.”

When I follow these instructions (on a Macbook Pro) I get: ÚA or Úa.

I know I can get it from the Emoji & Symbols panel, but I need a way to type it quickly.


"US Extended" is now called the "ABC Extended" keyboard. Schwa is made exactly the way that article and you describe.

The results you are getting are what happens when you are actually using a different input source, such as US or US International PC. Make sure that the "flag" menu at the top right of the screen says ABC Extended.

Note that selecting an item in System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources does not do anything, you need to have the keyboard you want shown in the menu bar, where you can also actually set them.

If you prefer to switch keyboards without using the "flag" menu, you can set a keyboard shortcut for this in System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Input Sources.

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  • If it's necessary to include the menu-bar hint, then it seems adequate to also hint at the keyboard shortcuts? – LаngLаngС Mar 1 '19 at 15:24
  • You wrote "you have to set …in… menu bar". Minimal technicality: not entirely true. But a user not aware of switching sources in menu might benefit from "SysPrefs>Kbd>ShortCuts>Input Sources" as well, where you can set a switch method also. – LаngLаngС Mar 1 '19 at 15:49
  • @TomGewecke, thanks, it works. Now, bonus points if anyone knows how to type ə on iOS? That's not so important to me, so I'm not going to open a new question, but if anyone know please reply here. :) – Quinn Comendant Mar 1 '19 at 16:56
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    @Quinn Comendant For iOS you need to either use a hardware keyboard or download an app like Unicode Pad. I think there are even apps especially for iPA. – Tom Gewecke Mar 1 '19 at 17:13

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