My son follows an online typing course for school. This course is offert through a website. As my son advances, he needs to type characters like: è, é, ë, ü, ï.

We have not found a way to type these characters in a way it satisfies the typing course. I think the site expects you to type a sequence of characters.

For example, to type the é I think it expects an ' + e. We tried multiple ways of typing these characters but have not found a way to satisfy the course software.

These tricks did not work for me:

  • When you holddown on the e key the typingcourse software directly registers an e and it is counted as a wrong keystroke.
  • When you press the ' MacOS directly prints the character which is not the character the typingcourse software expects and it is counted as a wrong keystroke.

Is there a way to mimic the Windows way of doing the keystrokes? Preferably without any additional software installs like Keyboard Maestro of similar.

And yes, I have send an email to the supplier but have not heard anything yet.

  • macOS works in a similar way, but the keys to select the marks are different, for example, to type é you have to type Option-e to select the ´ mark and then e. For more information, see support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/…
    – jaume
    Apr 27, 2022 at 10:20
  • I did get an answer from the supplier, they recommend the method of @tetsujin as it works by default on MacOS and iOS. Apr 29, 2022 at 11:28
  • @CousinCocaine The US International PC layout is just as easily available on iOS as it is on MacOS, so there is no problem using it on both. Apr 29, 2022 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


To mimic the Windows way, go to system preferences > keyboard > input sources and use the plus button to activate the layout called "US International PC". Then select it in the "flag" menu at the top right of the screen. This layout produces é when you type ' and then e, ü when you type " and then u, ò when you type ` and then o, â when you type ^ and then a, ñ when you type ~ and then n.

character key sequence
apostrophe '
ç ' c
é ' e
ú ' u
í ' i
ó ' o
á ' a
quotation mark "
ë " e
ÿ " y
ü " u
ï " i
ö " o
ä " a
accent grave `
è ` e
ù ` u
ì ` i
ò ` o
à ` a
tilde ~
õ ~ o
ñ ~ n
ã ~ a
caret ^
ê ^ e
û ^ u
î ^ i
ô ^ o
â ^ a
  • Although this might not be the best way, this is exactly the behaviour I was looking for. Apr 27, 2022 at 13:51

This is actually much easier on Mac than it is on Windows.
The Mac uses things called 'dead keys' which windows doesn't. On an English keyboard they are all accessed using the Option key, sometimes marked Alt or just ⌥, plus the dead key.
After you press the opt/dead key combination, you then just add the letter to which it should apply.

The dead key combinations are
Opt ⌥ + e gives ´
Opt ⌥ + ` gives `
Opt ⌥ + n gives ~
Opt ⌥ + u gives ¨
Opt ⌥ + i gives ^

So you set the dead key then add the letter -

Opt ⌥ + n then n gives ñ
Opt ⌥ + ` then a gives à
Opt ⌥ + u then i gives ï

You can see all these marked in orange on the keyboard viewer

enter image description here

  • Windows does use dead keys e. g when set to Swiss locales (French, German or Italian). But Mac still offers better input for special characters thanks to the option key, e. g. French guillemets « and ». Apr 27, 2022 at 21:19
  • I've been using the US International layout for many years on Linux, Windows and Mac and dispute that dead keys are the easiest way to type acutes, graves, cedillas, tildes, circumflexes, and diaeresis. It didn't take long for hitting the spacebar when I only needed the accent character to become muscle-memory. The Alt Gr key produces most other special characters although annoyingly what you get is OS dependent. @PhilippImhof guillemets are Alt-Gr+[/] on US International on Windows. Apr 29, 2022 at 3:00
  • @WesToleman If you need a US International which has the same alt layer as Windows, you can try dropbox.com/s/wpi1kat7gmeifj3/Win%20US%20Intl.keylayout?dl=0 Apr 29, 2022 at 12:44

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