How to type special characters and symbols on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

How to type special characters and symbols on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

Did you know there are many hidden special characters on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac keyboard? The standard keyboard only provides a few character alternatives at first glance. But you can type special characters such as accented characters (like é in café), extended punctuation (…), special symbols (°), ligatures (ae), etc., and  ©, ™, and ® symbols on your iPhone.

Besides, it allows you to access glyphs, symbols, & characters with the keyboard on iOS. So, how do you get special character symbols? Don’t worry! You don’t have to download any additional apps; just read along to know how I add custom characters to my iPhone or Mac keyboard and type special characters.

How to type special characters and symbols on iPhone or iPad

There are over 115 hidden characters and symbols on the English (US) keyboard in iOS 15 and 16 and iPadOS. You can use other symbols like emoticons on other language keyboards.

  1. Touch and hold on to the letter, number, or symbol with hidden characters while typing in Messages, Notes, Mail, and other apps.
    (Find the complete list of special characters on iPhone below)
  2. Here, you will see a pop-up picker with all the additional characters.
  3. Now, drag your finger to insert the special character.
    Note: The pop-up will vanish if you move or lift your finger.

    Type special characters and symbols on your iPhone or iPad

List of hidden special characters on your iPhone’s keyboard

Diacritics

This set of characters uses diacritics, i.e., independent characters with accent marks, and consists of 93 special characters. It will help you to write phrases like résumé, exposé, rosé, and other accented words in the English language. Usually, an uppercase letter will have the same diacritic as its lowercase.

Chraracter on iOS keyboardAvailable Diacritics
oô ö ò ó œ ø ō õ
aà á â ä æ ã å ā
sß ś š
eè é ê ë ē ė ę
yÿ
uû ü ù ú ū
Iî ï í ī į ì
zž ź ż
cç ć č
nñ ń
lł

Special symbols

There are 25 special characters hidden behind specific keys in the “123” and “#+=” keyboard options. It includes the degree sign (o), many forms of quote marks, and various dashes like the en dash (-) and em dash (—). You can also use inverted punctuation marks like some Spanish words such as ¡feliz cumpleanos! 

Character on iOS keyboardAvailable symbols
0°
– — •
/\
$€ £ ¥ ₩ ₹ ¢
&§
“” “» «
.
?¿
!¡
%
=≈ ≠
` ”

Other hidden special character on your iPhone keyboard

Till now, I have only mentioned the list of special characters you can type on the regular English (US) iPhone keyboard. But there’s more! Apple offers several iOS keyboards in other languages with many hidden symbols. Consider the emoticon buttons found on the Kana or Romaji keyboards. It has amusing text-based faces similar to emojis. Keep reading to know how you get special character symbols.

Access emoticons, glyphs, and other symbols on an iOS keyboard

You may get built-in emoticons, glyphs, and others by adding an extra keyboard. ^_^ To do so:

  1. Open Settings → General → Keyboard → Keyboards.

    Go to Keyboards from iPhone's Settings
  2. Now tap on Add New Keyboard. Then, find Japanese from the language list.
  3. From the next page, tick off both Kana and Romaji options.
  4. Finally, tap on Done to save the changes.

    Access emoticons, glyphs, and other symbols on iOS keyboard

To access the emoticons, first, change the keyboard to Japanese. If you select the Kana keyboard, you will see a “^_^” button. Click it and tap on the down arrow to get the list of emoticons. For the Romaji keyboard, first, open the numbers view by tapping on the “123″ button. Now you will see the same ^_^ button.

Interestingly, you can also type the Apple logo from these keyboards. Just write “appuru” (Japanese translation of Apple) from the Japanese Kana keyboard. It will be replaced with the Apple logo.

How to insert special characters on Mac

  1. Launch a text-editing application.
  2. Press and hold a key. If any special characters are associated with that key, it will appear in a pop-up picker.
  3. Each special character has a number mentioned below it. Tap on the number key while pressing the character key so you can enter the desired special character.
    You can also use the arrow keys to pick one character and add it using the Space key.

    How to insert special characters on Mac

Emoji

The Mac lacks an easy mechanism to write emoji characters in online browsers or non-Apple programs. Still, you can add an emoji to your text. Use the shortcut of pressing Control + Command + Space together or the Globe icon to open the emoji window. You can explore more special characters from here. Just click on the double arrow from the bottom right corner. 

Quick access tips

Who wants to open the emoji window every time and spend hours finding the desired one? No one, right? I have remembered a few shortcuts for the commonly used special characters. And all the credit goes to the ultimate Mac keyboard shortcuts guide. (Shhh! It’s the secret behind my pro typing skills :p)

SymbolsKeyboard shortcut
Degree sign °Shift + Option + 8
Pound £Option + 3
Euro Option + Shift + 2
Penny ¢Option + 4 
Copyright ©Option + G
Registered symbol ®Option + R
Trademark ™Option + 2
Check mark Option + V
Apple logoOption + Shift + K

These shortcuts may not work on some macOS keyboard languages. To change that, go to System PreferencesKeyboardInput Sources → click the plus (+) button → add a new keyboard.

You can select any, like the English U.S., British, Australian, Canadian English, Irish, etc. Once done, click the A icon or flag icon from the menu bar and choose one of these keyboards. Try clicking Option + Shift + K; it should work flawlessly.

So, that’s all, folks!

I love to type special characters, especially emoticons while texting to spice up the conversation. You can easily access glyphs, symbols, & characters with the keyboard on iOS. If you are facing any issues finding hidden special characters on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac keyboard, let me know in the comments below!

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