MacOS Keyboard Viewer

From time to time I need to add a special character to some text. Usually, I will fumble around with different key combinations on the keyboard until I remember the Keyboard Viewer which resides in the Keyboard Preference Pane in System Preferences. Once I have that open, I am pretty much good to go in finding that special character I need.

Keyboard Viewer

You may not need the Keyboard Viewer virtual keyboard much, but when you do it can be a pain to locate. So, it is probably best to allow the Keyboard Viewer icon to reside in you menu bar. To turn on Keyboard Viewer go into the Keyboard Pref Pane:

Keyboard Preferences

Check the box “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar” and you are good to go. The Keyboard Viewer shows up like this in your menu bar:

Keyboard Menu

When you select “Show Keyboard Viewer” the virtual keyboard pops up on your Mac display:

Virutual Keyboard

Now comes the fun part. If you hold down the Option ⌥ Key several special characters will be displayed:

Special Characters

Look them over carefully. There are bunches of characters to choose from. If you do not see the character you need then try holding down the Option ⌥ Key + Shift ⇧ Key which will show some different things:

Characters Continued

I think the total possible characters in the Keyboard Viewer should pretty much meet most people’s needs. There is one more thing here. If you elect to show the Keyboard Viewer in the menu bar it will also display a link for Emoji & Symbols:


There are all kinds of Symbols in here that may help with your search if you cannot find what you are looking for in the Keyboard Viewer.


The next time you need a special character in your writing workflow, head on over to the Keyboard Viewer. It is much easier to let the Keyboard Viewer figure it out instead of trying a hit and miss approach on your keyboard.