Unicode incorporates almost 150,000 symbols, and our keyboards allow us to directly enter no more than several dozen, even with Shift and Option. Many of the remaining characters can be found in the Character Viewer, a part of macOS that is hidden by default.
This viewer allows you to search for symbols, drag or double-click them to insert symbols into your text, and bookmark them for later access.
You can open the Character Viewer (also called Emoji and Symbols) through several methods:
On a keyboard with 🌐, you can press that key to open the viewer. (If pressing 🌐 doesn’t bring up the viewer, check your settings. On macOS 12 Monterey or earlier, go to > System Preferences > Keyboard and enable the option in the Keyboard tab; in macOS 13 Ventura or later, go to > System Settings > Keyboard and choose Show emoji and symbols from the “Press the 🌐 key to” menu.)
On macOS 12 Monterey or earlier, go to > System Preferences > Keyboardchoose the Input Sources tab and check “Show input menu in menu bar” – Emoji and symbols is an option.
On macOS 13 Ventura or later, go to > System Settings > Keyboardclick Edit next to Input sources (under Text input) and enable “Show input menu in menu bar”.
When it first appears, the viewer may be in a shortened form that emphasizes emojis and displays links at the bottom. If so, click the palette icon in the upper right corner to expand it into the larger Character Viewer.
You can search for characters via the field in the upper right corner and the viewer provides matches. Let’s say you want to routinely insert 1/2, 1/4, and other fractions using compact drawn fraction symbols into a font. Look for fractionand all the fractions appear. You can then select each one that you want easy access to and click Add to Favorites under its preview on the right hand side.
After adding the first bookmark, a Bookmarks link appears in the navigation list on the left. You can then click Favorites to access the characters and symbols you have added to the list.
This article on Mac 911 answers a question submitted by Macworld reader Ellen.
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