Whether you’re new to Mac or have been using it for years, highly specialized things like shortcuts, special Mac symbols, and accented characters might result in a web investigation spiralling out of control.
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If you’ve just recently switched from Windows, you should know that Macs don’t really use alt codes to type special symbols. Instead, all of the most popular Unicode characters can be typed in right from the keyboard. Unfortunately, Apple could do a much better job of shining light at this functionality.
For example, if you want to get a copyright symbol on Windows (©), you need to type in Alt 0169 — whereas, a copyright symbol on Mac is just Option + G. Similarly, a degree symbol on Mac (º) is Option + Zero and a registered trademark symbol on Mac (™) is Option + 2.
Truth is there are many more like this and below we’ll explore different ways of how to type copyright symbol on Mac or any special characters Macs allow, where to find Apple keyboard symbols, and whether there’s an emoji keyboard on Mac.
What Are All The Mac Keyboard Symbols?
While a standard computer keyboard contains around 80 keys, you’re able — in one way or another — use it to input all of the Unicode characters, of which there are about 130,000.
To start, simply explore how all the face-value characters change when you combine them with modifier keys — Control, Option, and Command. You can even combine multiple modifiers together as well. To see all Mac keyboard shortcuts symbols clearly, however, you need to turn on the full keyboard layout.
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Display all Mac keyboard symbols
Even if you’ve been using your Mac for a while, it’s useful to look at all the possible keyboard combinations from time to time to refresh your memory and discover new ways of quickly inputting information.
Luckily, it’s easy to show all Mac key symbols at once:
- Go to System Preferences ➙ Keyboard
- Check the box next to “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar”
Now you can click on the language flag in your menu bar and choose Show Keyboard Viewer. The interactive display will appear, showing all the keyboard symbols and altering the view in real time when you use modifier keys.
Of course, even using all the modifier keys and combinations available, it’s impossible to fit all the characters in such constrained amount of space. To see all Mac key symbols, you need to select Show Emoji & Symbols option from the same language flag menu, or use a shortcut Control + Cmd + Space.
Here, you’ll see all kinds of categories on the left: Emoji, Arrows, Currency Symbols, etc. In the center are all the characters within a given category. And on the right you can pick a font variation of the same symbol.
To type in a TM symbol Macs use, for example:
- Open your word processor of choice
- Call the Mac symbols menu
- Navigate to Letterlike Symbols on the sidebar
- Double-click on ™ to paste it into your editor
How to create custom Mac keyboard shortcuts symbols
With the Show Emoji & Symbols window, you have access to nearly all Unicode characters you’ll ever need. However, if you need to use some special characters — such as a copyright symbol on Mac — rather frequently, it would be quite inconvenient to call up a menu and search for what you need every time. Of course, you can add the copyright symbol to your favorite characters, which will save you some time, but there’s a much better way.
Macs allow you to create shortcuts for all keyboard symbols to be able to easily type them in whenever you need. For example, to create a shortcut for the copyright symbol on Mac:
- Type in the © character into your editor as described above and copy it with Command + C
- Open System Preferences ➙ Keyboard
- Navigate to the Text tab
- Click the plus sign
- Paste your © symbol in the With column on the right
- Type in a desired key combination to trigger the copyright symbol on Mac in the Replace column on the left
Although this default shortcuts method works well for characters or emoji, it doesn’t effectively translate into longer strings of text or paragraphs. If you want to, for instance, create a shortcut that outputs a sales email template, you’d need to use a little nifty tool called Rocket Typist.
Rocket Typist is a full-featured text expansion app created to minimize repetition in composing any form of text-based communication. It’s essentially a small database of text snippets you’ll use over and over again.
Starting with Rocket Typist is easy: use File ➙ New to create a new snippet, specify the abbreviation, fill out as much text (sentences or even paragraphs) as you need, and then use the abbreviation to expand text in any application.
How to switch between keyboard languages quickly
Sometimes, the Mac keyboard symbols you need are only available in another language — say, they could be Cyrillic-based. To access them, you’d need to enable another keyboard layout on your Mac.
Luckily, it’s easy to do:
- Go to System Preferences ➙ Keyboard
- Navigate to Input Sources
- Click the plus sign
- Choose the language you need and press Add
Now, the second keyboard layout will be activated. Don’t forget to check the box next to “Show Input menu in menu bar” to see which layout is currently active. The standard shortcut to switch between layouts is Cmd + Space, but you can also change it to Caps Lock key in the Input Sources options.
Extra tip: typing emoji on iPhone is much easier if you add an emoji keyboard layout to your languages.
Special Characters: Type in various symbol variations
In some cases, you might just want to access a variation of the symbol that’s already on your keyboard, such as an accented letter.
One way to do this is to find the character of your choice in the Keyboard Viewer, as described above. Another way is to use a keyboard shortcut. You can get an acute accent by typing Option + E and then the letter. Similarly, circumflex is Option + I, grave accent is Option + backquote, tilde is Option + N, and umlaut is Option + U.
A quicker option though is to simply press the key of the letter you want to modify and hold it for a second until a small menu appears. Then just choose a number that corresponds to the modification you seek.
Digitize complex math expressions
If your studies or line of work require the use of complex math, you might be spending too much time crafting LaTeX and MathML expressions by hand. But as with nearly everything else nowadays, there’s an easier way.
MathKey is a Mac app specifically developed to write complex equations in academic papers and math documents. Instead of composing dozens of obscure symbols together, the app allows you to hand-write the equation using your trackpad (or mouse) and output perfect LaTeX or MathML, ready for publication.
Search for anything instantly
It’s likely that you won’t retain all the information provided here. But don’t worry, the only thing you need to keep is a supercharged search that can take you right back to the answer you’re looking for.
Lacona is an intelligent search for your Mac that contextually analyzes the query and outputs a range of possible solutions, whether it’s launching a certain app, looking it up online, or performing a pre-defined action.
Any question about Mac keyboard shortcuts symbols — such as “how to type copyright symbol on Mac?” — would be met with a guiding response. And all you have to do to start Lacona is press Option + Space.
So there are a lot of things your Mac is capable of that you might have not even considered before. With regards to symbols and characters, what you see on the keyboard is just a tiny slice compared to the total amount available. Using Mac symbols properly will enrich your communication, making it clear and efficient, especially if you get used to creating snippets with Rocket Typist, transferring math equations with MathKey, and keeping everything at the tips of your fingers with Lacona.
Best of all, the apps mentioned above are available to you on a free trial through Setapp, a platform of more than 150 specific Mac apps that are designed to make your days more productive and fun. Now you’re ready to solve some equations!
Extend or mirror your Mac desktop with Sidecar
- Make sure that your Mac and iPad meet the Sidecar system requirements.
- You can use Sidecar wirelessly, but to keep your iPad charged during use, connect it directly to your Mac with the USB charge cable that came with your iPad.
- Click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar on your Mac, then choose the option to connect to your iPad. Or use Sidecar preferences to connect.
If you don't see the AirPlay icon, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Displays, then make sure that ”Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available” is selected.
- Your iPad should now show an extension of your Mac desktop. You can move windows to it and use it like any other display.
- To mirror your Mac display so that both screens show the same content, return to the AirPlay menu, which is a blue rectangle while using Sidecar. Choose the option to mirror your display. This is a great way to share your Mac screen with others.
- To end your Sidecar session, return to the AirPlay menu and choose the option to disconnect. Or click the Disconnect button in the sidebar on your iPad.
Learn more about using external displays. For example, you can use Displays preferences to arrange displays so that your iPad extends the left, right, top, or bottom of your desktop.
Move a window to your iPad display
If you hover your pointer over the full-screen button of a window, you can choose to move that window to or from your iPad display. It's faster than dragging the window, and the window is perfectly resized for your display.
The sidebar puts commonly used controls on the side of your iPad screen. It includes Command, Shift, and other modifier keys, so you can choose essential commands with your finger or Apple Pencil instead of a keyboard.
Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the sidebar or change its position.
Tap to show or hide the menu bar when viewing a window in full screen on iPad.
Command. Touch and hold to set the Command key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Option. Touch and hold to set the Option key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Control. Touch and hold to set the Control key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Shift. Touch and hold to set the Shift key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Undo the last action. Some apps support multiple undos.
Use the Touch Bar
Many apps on Mac have Touch Bar controls that make common actions even easier. With Sidecar, you get a Touch Bar on your iPad screen even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. It works just like the Touch Bar on Mac, and you can tap its controls with either your finger or Apple Pencil.
Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the Touch Bar or change its position.
If the Touch Bar doesn't appear when using an app that offers Touch Bar controls, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Mission Control, then make sure that “Displays have separate Spaces” is selected.
Use gestures for scrolling and other actions
Multi-Touch gestures on iPad remain available when using Sidecar. These gestures are particularly useful with Sidecar:
- Scroll: Swipe with two fingers.
- Copy: Pinch in with three fingers.
- Cut: Pinch in with three fingers twice.
- Paste: Pinch out with three fingers.
- Undo: Swipe left with three fingers, or double-tap with three fingers.
- Redo: Swipe right with three fingers.
Use Apple Pencil
To point, click, select, and perform tasks such as drawing, editing photos, and manipulating objects on your iPad while it's extending or mirroring your Mac display, you can use your Apple Pencil instead of your mouse or trackpad. You can also use it to write, sketch, and mark up documents while seeing the updates live on your Mac.
Sidecar also supports double-tap, which you can turn on in Sidecar preferences. Double-tap enables apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).
Use iPad apps
While using Sidecar, you can switch to an iPad app, then interact with that app on your iPad as you normally would. This suspends your Sidecar session until you switch back to the Sidecar app or disconnect Sidecar. The Sidecar app appears on your home screen only while using Sidecar.
Use Sidecar preferences
Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sidecar. These preferences are available only on computers that support Sidecar.
- Show Sidebar: Show the sidebar on the left or right side of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
- Show Touch Bar: Show the Touch Bar on the bottom or top of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
- Enable double tap on Apple Pencil: Allow apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).
- Connect to: Choose an iPad to connect to, or click Disconnect to stop using Sidecar.
Sidecar system requirements
Mac Air Keyboard Cover
Sidecar requires a compatible Mac using macOS Catalina and a compatible iPad using iPadOS 13:
Mac using macOS Catalina
- MacBook Pro introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
- iMac introduced in 2017 or later, plus iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)
- iMac Pro
- Mac mini introduced in 2018 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in 2019
iPad using iPadOS 13
- iPad Pro: all models
- iPad (6th generation) or later
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
Air Keyboard App For Mac Computer
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- Both devices must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID using two-factor authentication.
- To use Sidecar wirelessly, both devices must be within 10 meters (30 feet) of each other and have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on. Also make sure that the iPad is not sharing its cellular connection and the Mac is not sharing its Internet connection.
- To use Sidecar over USB, make sure that your iPad is set to trust your Mac.
- Resolve Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues caused by wireless interference, which can affect Sidecar performance when using Sidecar wirelessly.