What it is: OS X offers several ways to type characters you don’t normally find on a keyboard.
Many people love physical keyboards for the tactile feel in letting them know when they’ve pressed a key. While physical keyboards can be handy, they have severe limitations when it comes to typing foreign language characters and other characters that don’t appear on a physical keyboard. With iOS, you have the option of displaying a virtual keyboard that can morph into a keyboard for typing characters in other languages or typing other characters such as currency symbols or mathematical symbols.
However with OS X, chances are good you’re stuck using a physical keyboard, so within OS X when you want to type a foreign language character with an accent mark, just press the letter key (such as the “A” key) and keep it held down until a menu pops up as shown in the picture above. Then type the number corresponding to the accent mark you want to use such as typing 1 or 4. This method lets you type common foreign language letters with accent marks no matter which program you may be using such as Microsoft Word or Keynote.
A second way to type unusual characters is to either press Control+Command+Space bar, or choose Edit > Emoji & Symbols. This displays a Characters window that displays different categories in the left pane.
By clicking on a category in the left pane such as Math Symbols or Currency Symbols, you can see a list of options on the right pane that you can double-click on. By using the Characters windows, you can insert all types of odd and strange characters into any OS X program.
By using these two tricks of OS X, you can type foreign language characters and other unusual characters using a standard physical keyboard. While physical keyboards may never be as versatile as virtual keyboards, little tricks like this can give you the option of typing characters that your physical keyboard doesn’t offer.