Spanish has several accented or special characters:

áéíóúÁÉÍÓÚüÜñÑ¿¡

Is there any easy way within the question/answer editor or Markdown to type these characters for users who don't have their keyboard set up to type them? If not, is this something that could be simple and useful to add for language StackExchange sites?

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There's a nifty online tool. –  Peter Olson Nov 15 '11 at 22:08
    
@PeterOlson Bah, no Opera support! :\ –  Richard Nov 16 '11 at 23:20
    
Why is this a meta post? –  Orion Dec 14 '11 at 17:40
    
@NullUserExceptionఠ_ఠ: It started as an attempt at a feature-request to add special character support to SE Markdown for easier input on the language sites, and sort of evolved into "how do I type special characters?" –  jrdioko Dec 14 '11 at 17:42
    
It is nice you are concerned about this. Anyway, users we can easily type special characters help users who can't as we know about this. So, don't really worry about this if it's difficult for you to type them, like copy&paste one by one from other questions in Spanish. ;) –  JoulSauron Jul 20 '12 at 23:10
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6 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Outside of using the old copy-paste method, there are a couple of ways, based on your OS.

Windows

  • Use the ALT+ASCII Number:

    If you hold down ALT and type in the number 160, you get á.

    Other ALT key combinations:

    á   160     ¿   168
    é   130     ¡   173  
    í   161     ó   162     
    ú   163     ñ   164
    É   144     Ñ   165  
    
  • Setting up the keyboard

    In Windows, you can set your keyboard to "United States - International" and use the ` and ~ keys to add the accents.

    If that doesn't work, here is a website that talks about other Windows OS keyboard options.

Macintosh

  • For accented vowels: type ⌥e, followed by the vowel you want accented

  • For ñ: type ⌥n, then n

  • For Ñ: type ⌥n, then ⇧n

  • For ü: type ⌥u, then u

  • For Ü: type ⌥u, then ⇧u

  • For ¡: type ⌥1

  • For ¿: type ⇧⌥?

    Notes:

    is the option key (also called opt or alt).

    is the shift key.

    Keys grouped together on a single key above should be typed in simultaneously.

Linux

First, you must assign a compose key (how depends on which window manager you use). My favorite compose key is the Windows/Menu key. Then:

  • For accented vowels, compose, ', vowel
  • For ñ: compose, ~, n
  • For ü: compose, ", u
  • For ¿: compose, ?, ?
  • For ¡: compose, !, !
  • For «: compose, <, <
  • For »: compose, >, >
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If you have your keyboard as "United States - International" you can use the simple quote '.

Just type it, and nothing will be printed, but when you type a vowel, it will come out accented: é

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That depends on which OS you're using. –  Flimzy Nov 15 '11 at 22:03
    
Windows has such a keyboard layout option. I think Linux does too. I have no idea about Mac though. –  hippietrail Nov 16 '11 at 15:13
    
Mac has a similar layout, called U.S. International - PC –  Nathan Greenstein Nov 18 '11 at 4:08
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As joulsauron said in his answer Stack Exchange cannot do anything for this. This problem has to be dealt on your own PC. That can be done by changing the keyboard layout.

I will post ways to change the keyboard layout on different OS.

1) Linux (Ubuntu)

Click on System -> Preferences -> Keyboard

enter image description here

Then click on the Layouts tab and then click on Add

enter image description here

A new window will open. Click on the By Language tab. Select language as "Spanish, Castillian" and select whichever variant suits you best (By the way I chose Spain in the variant).

enter image description here

PS for quick changing between layouts there is a shortcut keypress Shift + Caps Lock
OR
You will also get an icon on your taskbar, use it to change quickly.

enter image description here

2) Mac

See this article on wikihow.com

3) Windows

Refer to this article on Official Microsoft Website

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I have used a Firefox addon called Barra de Español, which has some other nice features.

But this question is starting to approach a real question rather than a meta one...

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I never meta question I didn't like :) Thanks for the plugin tip. –  jasonmcclurg Nov 16 '11 at 0:49
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I'm afraid that Stack Exchange is the same for all the communities, so we cannot make things easier in the user interface to type special characters, though it would be great.

However, you could try to change the language/layout of your keyboard in your operating system, but you would have to look for a picture with the layout so you can see where are the characters you are looking for.

Here is an example for Windows Vista.

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Here's what I did:

In Windows, I added a second keyboard (Spanish (Mexico)) to the existing Keyboard. A previous answer points to an article by Microsoft on how to do this. I took the option that facilitates switching back and forth, using the Alt+Left Shift combination of keys.

I printed myself a cheat sheet that shows the layout on paper, just in case I forget where the Spanish keys are. (Heck, I don't even remember where all the keys are on the English keyboard!)

Here's an image of the cheat sheet:

Esto es el teclado español.

1a fila:      ° ! ” # $ % & / ( ) = ? ¡
                       | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 ’ ¿

2a fila:      Q W E R T Y U I O P ¨ * ]
                        q w e r t y u i o p ´ + }

3a fila:      A S D E F G H J K L Ñ [
                       a s d e f g h j k l ñ {

4a fila:      Z X C V B N M ; : _
                       z x c v b n m , . -

Arrobas (@): Ctrl+Alt+Q El acento es tecla muerta.

The cheat sheet lines up correctly in my original, but I can't make the SO website line it up right.

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