Learning to Master Symbol Keys Can Be Fun
I write a lot of computer tips. I always try to give people useful tips - often encompassing some information that they may not know.
Over the years, I have noticed that although most of us have gotten used to the computer keyboard, many people are still stymied when they try to type a degree symbol, a cent sign or euro sign. You see, these symbols are not on the computer keyboard. So you have to know how to access them.
In Windows computers, those symbols and many more are found in what is called the "Character Map." Here's how to access and use all the symbols in the Character Map.
In Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, click the Start button, choose All Programs, then Accessories. From the list that appears, choose System Tools, and then click Character Map. If you are using Vista or Windows 7, you can simply click on Start, then type Character Map into the search box above the Start button and choose Character Map when it appears near the top of the list.
A window with a lot of symbols will appear. Find the character that you want and click on it. This may be a foreign letter, a degree symbol, a registered trademark symbol or any other symbol shown.
Click Select and then click Copy. The symbol that you want will be copied to the Windows clipboard. Then you simply go back to your e-mail program or your document, place your cursor where you want the symbol to appear, and click on Edit, then Paste. The chosen symbol will appear in your document.
If you use that symbol a lot, you can also use its shortcut key to put it in any document without opening the Character Map every time you want to use that symbol.
After you choose a symbol in the Character Map window, you will see the shortcut key is at the bottom right side of the window. It will be something like "Alt+0162," which is the shortcut for the cent sign. Once you know the shortcut key combination, you can enter it into any e-mail or document without opening the Character Map. Just place your cursor in the document where you want the symbol to appear and enter the shortcut combination.
To enter a shortcut combination like this, you must use the numeric keypad rather than the numbers above the alphabet keys. Make sure the NumLock for the numeric keypad is on. (It is a toggle key; pressing once will turn it on, pressing it again will turn it off.)
Hold down the Alt key while you enter the numbers on the numeric keypad that represent the symbol you want. For example, for the cent sign you would hold down the Alt key and enter 0162 on the numeric keypad. When you release the Alt key, the symbol will appear in your document.
If you use a certain symbol a lot, be sure to jot down that -shortcut key, memorize it, or put it on a sticky note on your computer.
If this sounds a little complicated, it is. There are, however, a few shortcut keys for common symbols that are a little easier:
Although Alt+0162 will work for the cent sign, this shortcut is easier. Just place your cursor in the document at the location that you want the cent sign and hold down the Ctrl key while pressing the / key and the c key at the same time. For the copyright symbol, press Alt and Ctrl and the c key at the same time.
For the registered trademark symbol, press Alt and Ctrl and the r key at the same time. Mac users have similar shortcut key combinations. For the cent sign, Mac users will press the Option key and the $. For the copyright symbol, they will use the Option key and the g key and for the registered trademark, they will press the Option key plus the r key.
Microsoft has made accessing features like the Character Map easier in Windows 7. If you are using Windows 7 and you use the Character Map a lot, you can -simply go through the steps to find the Character Map as stated above. Then instead of left--clicking to open it, you right-click and choose Pin to Taskbar. Then the Character Map will appear on the bottom taskbar so you can access it with a single click. It will remain on the taskbar until you decide to remove it.
Although the Character Map can be used for common symbols, you can also use it to find many other more unusual symbols. When you get to the Character Map, you just use the arrow next to the Font choices and click on Wingdings.
Actually, using these symbols can be addictive and can also be fun. Try them out, and you are sure to amaze your friends!
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp, P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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