I know one can use a utility to copy special symbols (such as Windows' Character Map to find and copy "ñ"), and one can also use the numeric keypad and enter "Alt+0241" etc., but is there a non-PITA (Pain In The Ankle) way to enter the various Spanish-specific characters?

e.g., is there a way to set up "hotkeys" that map to those characters?

  • I created a quick-and-dirty software utility that allows me to use the Ctrl or Ctrl+Shift (capitalized) versions to change letters to their accented versions, or make the "?" and "!? flip upside down. It is kind of chintzy and a one-trick-pony, but if anybody wants it, I made it publicly available at 1drv.ms/1H3MvED. Note: The "copy to clipboard" button is not functitonal; you can, though, simply select and copy the contents of the multiline textbox. Jul 2, 2015 at 17:25
  • 1
    Honestly, this is much easier on a Mac. No need to remember strange things: just use ALT and the accent mark, then the letter.
    – tchrist
    Aug 1, 2015 at 14:17
  • That's how it should be; the Mac is truly better in many ways. I have had to use Windows for work for many years, though. Aug 2, 2015 at 2:29
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    See related Meta post: spanish.meta.stackexchange.com/q/10/9385 Oct 3, 2019 at 1:17

5 Answers 5


You could use the International Keyboard Layout for the U.S.A. How to set it for Windows 7, Vista or XP.

USA Standard layout USA standard keyboard layout

USA International layout USA International keyboard layout

Also you could set the spanish-spain layout or the spanish-latin-america layout.

Spanish-Spain layout Spanish-Spain keyboard layout

Spanish-Latin-America layout Spanish-Latin-America keyboard layout

  • Cool; I guess I'll have to get a template or whatever they call those overlays to remind me what's what at first. May 28, 2015 at 20:26

Another option rather than switching to a Spanish keyboard layout, is using the "English International with dead keys" layout.

The specifics vary between operating systems and even versions but importantly it does not move things around - so the legends on your keyboard still match.

On some systems pressing Right Alt + key gives you that key with an accent, e.g. Alt + e for é, or Alt + n for ñ.

On a Mac it's slightly different, and depends on version as well - snow leopard at least is Left Alt + e then the character you want for an accent, so Alt + e, a for á, Alt + n, n to get ñ etc. Mac does this 'out of the box' however you can set up a Spanish keyboard as well. I think Lion and onwards it is Right Alt instead.

This is great for occasional to moderate use, however if you want to be able to type fast - the Spanish layout is still better. I bought myself a cheap Spanish key board on eBay, but you can get stickers too.


Go to your Regional and Language Settings in Control Panel.. change keyboard language to US-International.

Once it is set to International.. all quotes (') and double quote (") will require that you either hit a space afterwards or a vowel.

To create punctuation marks (¿) and (¡), simply hold Alt and press the appropriate key.

For instance.. to create an upside-down question mark.. hold Alt and hit the question mark button.. no Shift required.

For dieresis, type a double quote ", and then the vowel to create things like Ëüï...

This tutorial should help you out http://www.studyspanish.com/accents/typing.htm

  • For ñ, type (shift `) and then n. It's the accent used in French for words like crème. For the diaeresis type double-quote and then the vowel. This is a great way of going back and forth between English and Spanish. When you want true quotes, type the quote key and then the space bar. But when you want an accented vowel, type the single-quote key and then the vowel you need. Feb 7, 2018 at 2:53
  • You can also hit Alt before n to get ñ.
    – dockeryZ
    Feb 7, 2018 at 8:13
  • Hmm, funny. I have chosen the US International keyboard. That doesn't work for me. Also, for "¿" I tried your instructions but they don't work. I have to do Control-Alt and the question mark key. Feb 7, 2018 at 11:46

To some extent, this is a matter of personal preference. Here is my preference.

I installed a second keyboard in Windows, even though I only have one physical keyboard. The exact method changes with the windows version, but it involves Control Panel, Language, and Input. The two software keyboards I ended up with are English (USA) which is the default in my location, and Español (México).

During the installation, I took the option that lets me have a hot key for alternating between the two keyboards. The default hot key is (left)Alt+Shift. I have a little indicator on the taskbar that says ENG or ESP. Whenever I want to type Spanish, I switch to the Spanish keyboard.

I created a "cheat sheet" that takes the place of a key layout diagram, to tell me where the unusual keys are. This includes accent, enye, and the upside down question mark and exclamation mark and a few other keys. It's only a matter of a few minutes to make such a cheat sheet, and you are better off making your own, using a keyboard you have installed. I have a hard copy of the cheat sheet near the keyboard.

Here, just for illustration purposes, is my 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 only reason the comments are in Spanish is my own preference.

I've been doing things this way at least as far back as Windows XP. It works for me.


Alt+0241 is the most reliable way to type the ñ. In Microsoft word you can type Ctrl + ~, release then type n. However that only works in Microsoft word.

  • I was afeard of that! What a clunky way to type in Spanish - four key presses to generate one measly character! May 28, 2015 at 18:10

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