How to Type Accented Letters in Scottish Gaelic

by | May 17, 2018

If you’re an English speaker, or more to the point, an English-language keyboard and phone user, you may have noticed a problem the first time you tried to type words in Scottish Gaelic. Gaelic has accented letters that are not found in English: à, è, ì, ò, and ù. This may be confusing to you if you’ve never typed accented letters on a keyboard before. Because English doesn’t contain accented letters for the most part, native English speakers are not always aware of how technology was designed with their language as the default.

This blog post will give you the quickest way to start typing the accented letters on a Windows computer, Mac, Android smartphone, or iPhone so that you can get your Gaelic homework done or spell that Facebook post properly!

There are other fancier solutions to this problem which require installing an international keyboard configuration on your computer, or the SwiftKey app on your phone, but this blog post won’t cover those options.

If you wish to explore these and other tech-based solutions, or go “full Gaelic” as much as possible on your computer, I recommend visiting the iGàidhlig website for advice.

Nisd, move the cat off your keyboard and let’s get right into it:

Gif of a cat sitting on someone's hands on a computer keyboard

Typing accented letters on iPhone or Android

I’ve made a screenshot video of this process. Click on the video to view it:

If you want to type in Scottish Gaelic on your iPhone or Android smartphone, here’s how to type the accented characters.

Open up any app in which you want to type. In the video I’m using the Notes app as an example, but it works in email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. Get to the keyboard view in the app.

Touch the key of the accented letter that you want to type, for example, a, and hold your finger on the key until you see a pop-up window displaying a range of accented letters. Keeping your finger in contact with the screen, slide up and over to highlight the à and then take your finger off the screen. The phone will type an à. Repeat for any other desired vowel.

To get the accented capital letters, press the SHIFT key on your phone’s keyboard and then repeat the above process.

Typing accented letters on a Mac

On a Mac, to type the lowercase accented letters à, è, ì, ò, and ù:

Press OPTION (ALT), and while holding down the OPTION key, type the ` key (it’s the key with both a grave accent ` and a tilde ~ on it, usually to the left of the numeral 1 key). Then release both keys. Now immediately type the letter you want.

How to type Gaelic accented characters on a Mac

How to type Gaelic accented characters on a Mac

To get the uppercase accented letters À, È, Ì, Ò, and Ù:

Press OPTION (ALT), and while keeping it pressed, also press the ` key. Then release both keys. Now immediately type the SHIFT key, and while holding down the SHIFT key, type the letter you want.

If you are typing Gaelic in Nova Scotia, or quoting an older Scottish text, you may need the acute-accented characters á, é, or ó. To get these characters, press OPTION (ALT), and while holding down the OPTION key, type the e key. Then release both keys. Now immediately type a, e, or o.

Typing accented letters on a Windows computer

On a Windows computer, to type the lowercase accented letters à, è, ì, ò, and ù:

Press CTRL, and while holding it down, type the ` key. Then release both keys. Now immediately type the letter you want.

How to type Gaelic accented characters on a Windows computer

How to type Gaelic accented characters on a Windows computer

To get the uppercase accented letters À, È, Ì, Ò, and Ù:

Press CTRL, and while keeping it pressed, also press the ` key. Then release both keys. Now immediately type the SHIFT key, and while holding down the SHIFT key, type the letter you want.

If you are typing Gaelic in Nova Scotia, or quoting an older Scottish text, you may need the acute-accented characters á, é, or ó. To get these characters, press CTRL, and while holding down the CTRL key, type the e key. Then release both keys. Now immediately type a, e, or o.

If this does not work, then follow the instructions here for several different versions of Windows, to activate the “United States International” keyboard on your computer: http://sites.psu.edu/symbolcodes/windows/codeint/

If this isn’t working for you, leave a comment below and we’ll try to help you sort it out!

Black cat with owner and a computer keyboard, original image by Ruca Souza, CC0.

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