compose yourself!

Just one of the things that I really, really hate about Windows is its lack of a sane way of entering accented characters. People are forced to do is remember arcane character codes, like Alt+0235 to get ë. I’m sorry, but I don’t get why one should need to remember these numbers.

Suns have a Compose key, that works conceptually a little like backspacing on a manual typewriter. To get e-umlaut, you type Compose + (either together, or one after the other) then e. It’s a system thing, and it works in all applications. A table of compose key sequences shows the huge range of special characters you can access in this way. Most Linux machines support this too; I have right Alt bound as the Compose key.

I need the same facility for Windows. An MS tech staff blog entry basically hints that it can’t be done. But it is being done, admittedly half-heartedly, by MS-Word; if you search for accent in the Help, you can find Insert an international character by using a shortcut key. Word has done this for years, so why isn’t it in the OS?

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